Photo by: Stewart Haas Racing
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 25, 2018) – Ashton Kutcher said it best during the popular film released to widespread acclaim in December 2000 – “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
Standing with Seann William Scott, who was playing the character Chester Greenburg, they didn’t know where their car was parked. And Kutcher, who was playing Jesse Montgomery III, said simply, “Dude, where’s my car?”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), might be saying, “Dude, where my oval?” as the NASCAR Monster Cup Series head to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway this weekend.
Busch has competed in 36 point-paying races on the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte, as well as 19 non-points races. But the 55 races he’s competed in on the 1.5-mile oval won’t help him as this week, he will drive on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Charlotte “roval.”
And this isn’t Sonoma Raceway in northern California or Watkins Glen International in the state of New York. It’s half oval and half road course. Thus, the hybrid term roval.
Think back to the 1971 Questor Grand Prix conducted at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. It used parts of the oval and road course at the track. But don’t expect Jackie Stewart or Mario Andretti – the latter who won the Questor Grand Prix – to be in Charlotte.
Busch has tested twice on Charlotte roval – in October 2017 and in July 2018. And like everyone else, he doesn’t know what to expect this weekend, other than to expect the unexpected.
Busch has he been good at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Busch has one pole, one win, four top-threes, seven top-fives and nine top-10s and has led a total of 198 laps in his 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Sonoma.
His only road-course win in the Cup Series came at Sonoma in 2011 and it was a dominant victory as he led a race-high 76 laps. He passed Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 13 and stayed out front for the next 19 circuits around the 1.99-mile track. He relinquished the lead twice for scheduled, green-flag pit stops and took over the top spot for the final time on lap 88, then led the final 23 laps.
He’s even had success at Sonoma in the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series, finishing third in 1998 after starting 19th and winning the 1999 race after starting third.
He hasn’t been bad at Watkins Glen, either, as he finished second there in the Truck Series in 2000. In his three NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Watkins Glen, he started first in each, won in 2006 and 2011, and finished third in 2007. In those three races, Busch led 98 of the 250 laps available – 39.2 percent
Busch has one pole, three top-five finishes and nine top-10s at Watkins Glen in Cup competition.
But the roval is new to the series competitors. And hopefully, at the end of this race, Busch can ask, “Dude, where’s victory lane?”
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Thoughts on the roval?
“There will be a lot of anxiety, a lot of unknowns and a lot of interesting, unique things that are going to come out of the road race with it being a cutoff race. It’s a very important race to have a smooth day. And, based on testing, nobody’s had a smooth day getting around that track.”
How did your tests go on the roval?
“I’ve been there twice. They changed the track layout since the last time I was there and the tire is going to be a little bit different since the last time I tested. And, now, I’ve been doing simulation work with Ford over in the simulator and making laps and trying to be as comfortable as I can heading there.”
Is it going to be a little bit crazy?
“That’s going to be a pretty big mix-up, shake-’em-up and we hope to survive that one, in all honesty. We just need to not make mistakes at that one and not get caught up in other people’s mistakes and that’s how we’ll get through this first round.”
Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 29 of 36 – Bank of America Roval 400 – Charlotte
Car No.: 41 – Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion
PR Contact: Joe Crowley, True Speed Communication (704) 875-3388 ext. 808 or Joe.Crowley@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kurt Busch
Hometown: Las Vegas
Crew Chief: Billy Scott
Hometown: Land O’ Lakes, Florida
Car Chief: Tony Cardamore
Hometown: Bristol, Virginia
Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Evan Cupples
Hometown: Hudson, Illinois
Spotter: Tony Raines
Hometown: LaPorte, Indiana
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Rick Pigeon
Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont
Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder
Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa
Windshield: Kyle Anderson (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Jewell, Iowa
Rear Tire Changer: Coleman Dollarhide
Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina
Jackman: Sean Cotten
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Dwayne Moore
Hometown: Griffin, Georgia
Road Crew Members:
Truck Driver: Tim Hussey and Larry Lush
Hometowns: Asheboro, North Carolina, and Waynesville, North Carolina
Tire Specialist: Tom Gagliano
Hometown: East Hampton, Connecticut
Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn
Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut
Engineers: Scott Bingham and William Lee
Hometowns: Lawrenceville, Georgia and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina
Mechanic: Nick McIntosh
Hometown: Harve, Montana
Mechanic: Joe Zanolini
Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania
Charlotte Notes of Interest:
· The Bank of America Roval 400 will mark Kurt Busch’s 641st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his first career NASCAR Cup Series start at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway “roval.”
· Busch has career totals of 30 wins, 25 poles, 135 top-fives, 275 top-10s and 9,354 laps led in 640 career starts.
· His most recent Cup Series win came five races ago in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (Aug. 18, 2018).
· His last Cup Series pole came nine races ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (July 20, 2018).
· Busch tested at the Charlotte roval in October 2017 and July 2018.
· 9,000 and counting – By leading 98 laps in the April race at Richmond, Busch became just the 21st driver to lead 9,000 laps in his NASCAR career. He is now 20th in the laps-led standings, having led 9,354 laps. He’s 390 laps behind Buddy Baker and 203 laps ahead of 21st-place Denny Hamlin. Busch is fifth among active drivers in laps led.
· Get to the Points – Following his 18th-place finish at Richmond, Busch is eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings with 2,071 points. He has one win, four top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 28 races this season.
· Busch has been in the top-10 in points for 23 consecutive weeks. The last time he was in the top-10 for 23 consecutive weeks was when he was in the top-10 for the first 27 races of the 2016 season.
· The Las Vegas native won the pole for the 2006 race at Watkins Glen. Busch has 25 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series poles.
· Busch’s only road-course win came at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in 2011. It was a dominant victory as he led a race-high 76 laps. He passed Hamlin for the lead on lap 13 and stayed out front for the next 19 circuits around the 1.99-mile track. He relinquished the lead twice for scheduled, green-flag pit stops and took over the top spot for the final time on lap 88, leading the final 23 laps.
· Busch swept the poles for both road-course races during the 2006 NASCAR Cup Series season. He won the pole at Sonoma in June to score his fifth career Cup Series pole and kept his quick pace at the series’ second and final road-course stop at Watkins Glen in August to earn his sixth career pole. These are the only two Cup Series poles Busch has earned on a road course.
· Busch has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Watkins Glen (2006, 2007 and 2011). He started first in each of them, won in 2006 and 2011, and finished third in 2007. In these three races, Busch led 98 of the 250 laps available (39.2 percent).
· Busch has two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts on road courses – Portland (Ore.) International Raceway and Watkins Glen. Both starts came in 2000, with Busch finishing 11th at Portland and second at Watkins Glen.
· Busch has driven in 36 Cup road-course races in his career – 18 each at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. He has one win, 10 top-fives and 19 top-10s and has led 263 laps.