Runner-up result puts Kurt Busch, FRR in the Chase

0 Comments

After fighting and scrapping throughout the Sprint Cup regular season, Kurt Busch and his single-car Furniture Row Racing team received their just reward Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Overcoming early pit woes with a pace that never flagged on his No. 78 Chevy, Busch took home a second-place finish in the Federated Auto Parts 400 to clinch a spot in NASCAR’s post-season stretch.

Of course, the job is not yet done. As he indicated on Thursday, Busch, a former Sprint Cup champion, is not here to simply make the show, but to put a second Sprint Cup on his mantle.

Still, the glassy, emotional eyes he sported in his post-race television interview seemed to indicate that he knew the magnitude of his accomplishment tonight.

After damaging his reputation with several controversies in the past, he has won back many fans with his efforts this season for the Colorado-based FRR. Now, he and the little team that can – not could, can – will be dueling with the big boys this fall for a title.

“It’s been a journey,” Busch told ESPN. “It’s been a great ride of trying to persevere and go up against the odds, when certain things are against you that are out of your control – and sometimes, you induce things that put you in the position to have to dig hard and keep working.”

Busch took the lead for the first time at Lap 66 and once more at Lap 110, but lost it after a slow stop on pit road under yellow at Lap 136. The FRR pit crew’s problems through the regular season had been a focal point going into tonight’s race.

But after that issue, Busch quickly picked himself back up, moving up to second by the halfway point of the race. His team then gained redemption on his next stop (also under yellow), enabling their man to leapfrog early contender Brad Keselowski for the lead.

Busch would eventually give up the lead on the next green stint, but kept within the Top 5 for the remainder of the night.

And with Jeff Gordon, his main nemesis for the 10th spot in the Cup standings, having to rally from two laps down after pitting under green for a loose right-front wheel, it became more and more clear that Busch was going to pull it off.

Afterwards, Busch praised his team for a job well done.

“[Team owner] Barney Visser started this with these guys in Colorado years ago, and here we are in the Chase,” he said. “And when you get a guy like [crew chief] Todd Berrier to come in and help arrange things, cut weight out of the cars, knows his way around the garage – he’s a veteran leader.”

“…We’ve got some muscle in us. We haven’t won a race yet this year, but we’re in the Chase and we’ve got a good ten weeks ahead where we can do some great things.”

The Chase begins next weekend in Chicago, and with that, the final chapter together for Busch and FRR will begin as well. Next year, he’ll move on to what will be a four-car armada at Stewart-Haas Racing.

But thanks to their work tonight at Richmond, at least this feel-good story is going to have a few more pages.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
0 Comments

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)