Bristol Update: Kurt Busch first of Chase contenders to stumble

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A strong opening stint for Kurt Busch tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway has quickly turned into a nightmare scenario for himself and his Chase hopes.

“The Outlaw” took the lead from pole sitter Denny Hamlin at Lap 23 but around Lap 80, he suddenly fell from first to fifth before he went to pit road under green flag conditions for a loose wheel on his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.

A slow, 18.9 second stop was then followed by a pit road speeding penalty, forcing Busch to do a drive-thru run through the pits. That put him multiple laps down but things were not done going sour as he was forced to pit a second time due to more wheel issues.

Finally, the FRR team opted to bring Busch behind the wall to replace a wheel hub. By the time Busch returned to action, he had tumbled all the way to 41st at 26 laps off the pace.

The winless Busch had gone into tonight’s race ninth in the Sprint Cup standings, but now it appears that his shot to make NASCAR’s postseason has sustained a potentially lethal setback.