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Kurt Busch glad team shenanigans couldn’t possibly involve him

NASCAR Chicago Auto Racing
Nam Y. Huh - AP
Kurt Busch greets fans during drivers' introduction before the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Sunday.

Kurt Busch had a unique perspective on the mess that engulfed NASCAR last week.

As penalties were handed down and rules were changed to prevent teams from artificially altering the outcome of races, Busch sat back and just watched.

“I was a pig in mud,” said Busch, who drives for Furniture Row Racing. “For me, it was a great blessing to know that I can’t be tied into any team shenanigans because we have just the (one) car. (Fellow driver) Ryan Newman came up to me and said, ‘Doesn’t it feel good to be on the outside and not have any problems with this? To not have any negative focus on you?’”

Busch, it must be noted, will leave Furniture Row next season for the multi-car Stewart-Haas Racing. But he’s been in that situation before and knows how to deal with having two or more teammates on the track at the same time.

Busch, who is sixth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings after finishing fourth at Chicago on Sunday, remembers 2005 when he was one of five Jack Roush Racing (now Roush Fenway Racing) drivers in the Chase.

“The whole communication thing with your teammates is you’ll do what you can to help,” Busch said. “That’s what we did in 2005. We’d work together six days a week and go racing on the seventh. It was every car for himself, in my mind.”

The new rules implemented by NASCAR last weekend – in response to race manipulation by Michael Waltrip Racing at Richmond two weeks ago – include no more deal-making, giving up a position for a teammate or “artificially altering” the finish of a race.

Chicago winner and Chase leader Matt Kenseth pretty much agreed with Busch that the new rules were no hindrance to him at Chicago.

“I can’t think of one instance in my career that I would have done anything (NASCAR) didn’t like,” Kenseth said. “They don’t want to be up at night having to write rules like that. It seemed pretty silly to me.

“When they drop green (flag), it’s one against 42, I’ve always felt. I’ve always wanted to put forth your best effort and finish as high as you can and race hard. There’s nothing there that would change what I’ve been doing.”

Making the Chase was hard enough on Busch and his team, which was seeded ninth entering the Chase.

He said that after qualifying for the Chase at Richmond – the season’s final regular-season race – he couldn’t move for nearly two days.

“I felt the same kind of fatigue in my body that Monday after Richmond than I did when I won the championship (in 2004),” he said. “I had flu-like symptoms. My body was sore and I was down for 36 hours. I had to fight it off.”

Busch said he called crew chief Todd Berrier at the team’s shop in Colorado to remind him off how difficult winning a championship can be.

“The battle to get in the Chase was as much of a battle as you’d put forth in the Chase,” Busch said. “We had a good strong 10 weeks before, why can’t we give another 10 (weeks) now? We can make it to (the season-finale at Homestead, Fla.) and just die. Warn our families. But our Chase started several weeks ago. We’re just plugging away.

“It takes a nice, steady run. But there’s a cost.”

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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