Photo by: Stewart Haas Racing
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 29, 2018) – Kurt Busch seems to like Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. And since he’s won there three times, for three different owners, he’s hoping he can score victory number four while driving the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Busch first won at Pocono in July 2005 driving for Roush Fenway Racing, leading 131 of 203 laps after starting second. He then dominated in August 2007 driving for Roger Penske. He started second again but led 175 of 200 laps en route to victory at the 2.5-mile track known as the “Tricky Triangle.” Both races were 500 miles in length.
In June 2016, driving for SHR, he started ninth and led 32 of 160 laps of the now 400-mile race to score his third Pocono victory.
Perhaps Busch’s success is tied to the track’s unique design. The triangular layout was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward and remains unlike any other track in the world with three different corners each modeled after a different track.
Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is modeled after the legendary Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked at six degrees, is modeled after the corners at The Milwaukee Mile.
Busch’s first-ever NASCAR victory came on July 1, 2000 at Milwaukee, when he started on the pole and led 156 of 200 laps to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Greg Biffle was third, while a young Jamie McMurray finished 31st.
Joe Ruttman, who is the brother of Troy Ruttman, the 1952 Indianapolis 500 winner, finished 24th. Troy Ruttman competed against Ward 10 times in the Indianapolis 500 during the 1950s and 1960s.
The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion will be led by crew chief Billy Scott. Both Busch and Scott hope that they can score another victory at Pocono.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve won three times at Pocono, but the 2007 win was so dominant. Can you describe that race?
“The win in 2007 with Penske Racing – that was the fastest car that I’ve ever driven. That car would turn, stick, drive down the straightaway – that car did everything. It didn’t have a single flaw. I knew how good that car was on the first lap of the race. I remember telling myself, ‘Don’t screw this up.’ I ran the rest of the race more nervous than I had in years prior. I’ve never dominated a race like that. We led 175 of 200 laps. That was, by far, the best car I have ever driven. It was a great race to show the balance of that team and the strength of where we were at that point. I think the 25 laps that we didn’t lead were from a bad pit stop at one point. My first win at Pocono in 2005 was pretty great, too. It’s fun to win at a racetrack that is so unique because of how different that track is compared to all the other oval tracks. Pocono is a little bit like Darlington in that all the corners are different, so you have to manage them the best that you can and not be perfect in one corner versus another.”
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you go to Pocono?
“How unique the place is. You drive in through the Tunnel Turn and that corner to me is one of the most unique corners of all the tracks that we go to. When you go to Pocono, the first thing you really think of is compromise – you have to juggle all three corners being different. It’s called the Tricky Triangle for a reason.”
You started your career with Ford and now you are with Ford again. How is the Ford performing as they seem to be leading the manufacturers?
“The level of commitment still feels the same. Edsel Ford is still very active. Henry Ford is very active. But the immediate group underneath them now with Ford Performance. The Ford Performance group – I see it everywhere, with all their different forms of motorsport collaborating together. Whereas Ford Racing before, maybe because I was younger and didn’t see it all, felt like it was more focused on the NASCAR program and didn’t use information from IndyCar, or Cosworth in Formula 1, or sports cars. What I see now is information channels that are able to communicate quickly and gather data from all different branches of motorsports that Ford is involved in.”
Of the three turns, which is the most important to you and why?
“It’s weird, I’ve had winning cars there a few different times and turn two always feels the best when my car has a chance to go to victory lane. But, I think turn three, if you are able to pass cars and maneuver around them, you’ve got to get a good run off turn three to be ready to pass them in turn one. All of them are important. You can’t exclude one from another.”
Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 14 of 36 – Pocono 400 – Pocono Raceway
Car No.: 41 – Monster Energy Ford Fusion
PR Contact: Joe Crowley, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388, ext. 808, 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 Cardamone
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: Shane Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
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: Larry Lush and Tim Hussey
Hometowns: Waynesville, North Carolina and Asheboro, North Carolina
Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire
Hometown: Palmyra, New York
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
Pocono 400 Race Notes of Interest:
· The Pocono 400 will mark Kurt Busch’s 626th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 34th at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Busch has two poles, three wins, 14 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Pocono. Additionally, Busch has led 538 laps, has an average starting position of 10.5, an average finish of 14.2 and has completed 95.8 percent (5,723 of 5,956) of the laps available.
· Busch has career total totals of 29 wins, 23 poles, 133 top-fives, 265 top-10s and 9,094 laps led in 625 starts.
· His most recent Cup Series win came 49 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26, 2017).
· His last Cup Series pole came seven races ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (April 6).
· Busch’s two poles at Pocono came in June 2011 and June 2015.
· Three Times a Winner – Busch has raced his way to victory lane at Pocono three times. His first win came in July 2005 when he started second and led a race-high 128 of 203 laps before claiming his 13th NASCAR Cup Series victory. His second win came in August 2007 in record-setting fashion as he led 175 of 200 laps en route to claiming his 16th NASCAR Cup Series victory. His most-recent Cup Series victory at Pocono came in June 2016, when Busch won the rain-delayed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400.
· 9,000 and counting – By leading 98 laps in the April race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Busch became just the 21st driver to lead 9,000 laps in his NASCAR career. He is currently six laps shy of 9,100.
· Get to the Points – With his eighth-place finish last week at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch is sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 429 points. He has two top-fives, seven top-10s and 10 top-15s in 13 races.
· Busch has been in the top-10 in points for eight consecutive weeks. The last time he was in the top-10 for eight consecutive weeks was at the end of the 2016 season, when he was in the top-10 for the last eight weeks.