Kurt Busch had spent much of the first 430 laps of Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway in or around the top-five.
It appeared that he was well on his way to a very strong finish – if not a win.
Then came Lap 434.
Just moments after a restart, the little paper clip sized bull ring went from race track to pinball machine.
While fighting for position coming out of Turn 2, Brad Keselowski got together with Matt Kenseth, who bounced off and slammed Busch into the inside retaining wall.
Both Keselowski and Busch suffered significant damage, but were eventually able to return to the track – wounded but in pursuit of as many points as they could salvage.
“We were running third with a set of fresh tires, and 70 laps to go,” Busch said. “Who knew that restart was going to get that crazy. When you are an innocent victim of collateral damage, it’s tough.”
It would not have been surprising if Busch had been livid at what happened. But this was Martinsville, where the unexpected is expected.
“We live together as a team and die together,” Busch said. “We didn’t want to die today. We gave it our best. We have had no DNF’s this year and I hope we can make a strong run in the final two races (of Round 3).”
Plus, Busch wanted to make a good impression upon the new sponsor he debuted for this race, Monster Energy, which will be one of his primary sponsors in 2016.
“We led laps today, we were up front,” Busch said. “We were in perfect position. We did our job, we just didn’t have luck on our side.”
Busch took his 34th place finish in the race and his seventh place ranking in the Chase standings after the first race of Round 3 in stride.
If anything, he’s even more inspired now.
“We are down but we’re not out,” Busch said. “We will go win Texas, go win Phoenix and get our invite (to the final round of the Chase).”