RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kurt Busch had shown all kinds of promise with his new Furniture Row Racing team, finishing in the top five in consecutive races and climbing to the cusp of being in the coveted top 12 of NASCAR's Sprint Cup standings.
He arrived at Martinsville Speedway last week 13th in points, a pretty impressive showing for a single-car team in the age of multicar powerhouses — not to mention a team based in Colorado, far from NASCAR's unofficial Charlotte, N.C., hub.
Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, was doing well at Martinsville on Sunday, too, until a bad fuel pump and then a brake issue caused his day to end in a fiery crash. The car that had been seventh was suddenly relegated to 37th place.
"I was juggling a bunch of stuff," he said, having overcome a flat tire that put him two laps down, a fuel pump that he and his team knew could be a problem later in the race and a spin. And "then it all came unraveled."
It was the kind of incident that has gotten the hot-headed Busch in trouble in the past. He has blasted his team over the radio or taken out his frustrations on other drivers or reporters.
All of this is part of the reason he says the single-car team works well for him.
"Just more of a family atmosphere, the ease of communication," he said of Barney Visser's team. "Everybody, it seems, is all on the same page and you don't have to worry about it. ... It's easier to keep your arms around everybody."
The family atmosphere also simplifies things, he said.
"The corporate side of it can get so vicious," he said, having driven for the multicar teams owned by Jack Roush and Roger Penske. At Furniture Row, "the owner is the sponsor, there's less people involved, and you don't have a group of people checking surveys and things and blowing things out of proportion because of one week where things didn't go right."