Kurt Busch used words like "excited" and "amazing" following a third-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway, but that doesn't mean he left the track pleased.
Now in position to do what many thought was impossible and take the single-car Furniture Row Racing team to the Chase, Busch wants to capitalize on the opportunity. With three races left in the regular season, he is ranked ninth, six points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne.
"I'm just in that Chase mode where we have to get in," Busch said. "You can't celebrate with a third‑place finish. You just have to feel confident and to know that you can go back next week and do it again."
Michigan, however, wasn't without adventure.
A dropped lug nut during one pit road kept him on pit road five-seconds longer than expected, erasing Busch's lead. Another slow stop later also cost him valuable track position.
These issues have hampered Furniture Row throughout the season and led Busch to venting his frustration over the radio.
"We came in 6th. F***. Came out where? Do you guys know we have a race today?" Busch said.
When the checkered flag waved with the No. 78 car scored in third, Busch would apologize. "Sorry I got so fired up, boys, but I don't want to see our window close on us," he said.
Busch would explain post-race that his angst stems from how close the standings are -- positions eight through 14 are separated by 30 points.
"A day like today, we were running 14th with 60 to go or something like that. I'm looking at Biffle ahead of us, Truex, Kahne, Keselowski," Busch said. "We wouldn't have gained any points today."
But even in spite of the adversity, the 2004 Cup champion took solace in what his team accomplished in a race where passing was a challenge and track position was imperative.
"It's great, I'm happy," Busch said. "I'm very satisfied with the effort today. There's still just three weeks to go where we could get in a little fender‑bender, some itty‑bitty thing happen the next three weeks and that will put us on the outside."