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NASCAR: Kurt Busch works his way back up the food chain

A strong season with the single-car Furniture Row Racing team has put the former Cup champion back in the Chase, and in position for a move to Stewart-Haas Racing next season.
by Scott Wright Published: November 1, 2013

— Kurt Busch isn't going to win the Sprint Cup championship this year.

But the fact that he and the No. 78 car of Furniture Row Racing are even in the Chase for the Championship is a remarkable feat.

Busch is the first driver from a single-car team to qualify for the Chase since it began in 2004, and the accomplishment comes not long after Busch's bad behavior had his career on the decline.

Busch is looking forward to Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, which begins at 2 p.m., as he tries to finish the season strong with Furniture Row. A win is one of the few accomplishments still missing from his impressive season, and TMS is a place where he has had success — including a victory in November 2009.

“It's been a successful season to make the Chase as a single-car team,” he said. “The fact that we haven't won yet isn't discouraging, because there have been so many other little wins along the way that have meant a lot to this team.

“In the Chase, we have a couple top-5 finishes, and we don't have any disastrous finishes, but we have too many mediocre finishes. That's what has us down in the running order.”

Still, where he is now is a long way from where he was two years ago. After inconsistent racing and public outbursts directed at other drivers and media members, Busch's attitude landed him in a bad place. He no longer had a big-team ride after spending the first 11 years of his career with either Roush Fenway or Penkse Racing.

Despite being a champion driver — he won the first Chase in 2004 — Busch's best option was to sign with Phoenix Racing for the 2012 season. Even that didn't work out, and he left before the year ended to hook on with another small, one-car team at Furniture Row.

This season in the No. 78 car has been a spectacle. Entering Sunday's race, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of the 33 races, with 10 top-5s.

“It's been very gratifying, and a nice sense of accomplishment to bump this team up,” Busch said of the 39 races he's run with Furniture Row, beginning last October. “I think the team was ready, and I just complemented some of the areas to put this run together.

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by Scott Wright
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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