Coca-Cola 600: Another near-miss for Kurt Busch, who finishes third

Jeff Zelevansky

Late-race disappointment is something Kurt Busch is all too familiar with this season, and that again was the case in the Coca-Cola 600.

It's been a recurring theme throughout the 2013 NASCAR season. Kurt Busch has had a car fully capable of winning numerous times, but for one reason or another, victory finds a way to elude him.

That again was the case in the Coca-Cola 600, where Busch was comfortably in the lead and 74 laps away from snapping a losing streak that dates back to October 2011.

But as the caution and subsequent red flag came out for a multi-car incident involving Jeff Gordon, Aric Almirola and Mark Martin among others, the black cloud that has hovered over Busch as of late returned. His No. 78 car was suddenly without power, and all he could do was sit there and stew waiting for a tow truck to push him to pit road.

"We're f*****," Busch told his team. "This is my life right here. Right here. You guys see it?"

The problem was diagnosed as a faulty battery, which the 78 team promptly replaced when the race was restarted. The repairs, however, dropped Busch to 16th, and his shot to reach Victory Lane vanished.

Although he was able to rally to finish third -- his best result of the year -- the disappointment of not winning was hard to comprehend.

"I'm a little shellshocked still, trying to find the exact words because I'm always judged on my reaction instead of my actual performance," Busch said. So watch this:

"It was a great run for our Furniture Row guys. We did the best we could with 600 miles, solid pit stops. The car was a little tight here, a little loose there. All in all, brought it home third. ... That's a good points night."

Busch's frustration can be explained when you consider this was third consecutive race where he was in contention only to backslide down the running order.

At Darlington, he was dominant early but faded when he and his team couldn't keep up with the ever-changing track conditions. Last week in the All-Star Race, Busch was leading when he hit pit road for his final stop of the night, but a slow stop dropped him to fifth and he never recovered.

Don't let Busch's tone fool you, as he is aware of what his Furniture Row Racing team has accomplished this season. A single-car team with limited sponsorship isn't supposed to be able to compete with and outrun NASCAR's bigger teams, yet that is what Furniture Row has continually done throughout the season.

"To be up front, to lead laps, that's what it's all about," Busch said. "So we'll get these little hiccups polished up and continue plugging forward. That's the only thing we can do, is learn from what exactly happened. Was it a cable issue, a battery that was dead, was the alternator not charging?

"To show our strength tonight, to finish third, we'll take it. I think that's what needs to be said. The Furniture Row team was fast and we didn't quite have a perfect night and we brought it home third."

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