Photo by: Stewart Haas Racing
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Oct. 9, 2018) – Kurt Busch finished fifth in the spring races at Dover (Del.) International Raceway, second at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and fifth at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
If he repeats those finishes, he should easily advance to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR playoffs. And he is off to a good start. He finished fifth at Dover in last weekend’s Round of 12 opener and now heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway sixth in the standings, 21 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff.
While he would like another second-place finish at Talladega this weekend, he would love to find victory lane in Alabama.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was runner-up to Joey Logano at the 2.66-mile oval in April, and he’s finished third there four times – April 2001, 2002 and 2007, and October 2006.
He’s won a restrictor-plate race before – the Daytona 500 in February 2017 on the high banks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. And, he’s won at every other type of racetrack on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
From the shortest racetrack – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – to a road-course victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, to Daytona, Busch has found victory. He’s won on racetracks ranging in length from .526 of a mile, .533 of a mile, .75 of a mile, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, 1.99 miles, 2 miles and 2.5 miles. He’s celebrated in victory lane at the high-banked ovals and flat tracks. He even won the championship in 2004.
Busch has won at 15 of the 23 racetracks on the Cup Series schedule, but Talladega is now his focus.
Talladega is one of only two racetracks on the NASCAR circuit where restrictor plates are used. By definition, a restrictor plate is a device installed at the air intake of an engine to limit its power. The use of a restrictor plate is intended to both limit speed and increase safety with an eye toward equaling the level of competition.
Races at Talladega and its sister track at Daytona are ones literally anyone can win. Horsepower-choked engines require drivers to draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph.
The key point for Busch’s crew chief Billy Scott is to give his driver a good-handling racecar, while
Roush-Yates Engines must give Busch a Ford engine with a lot of horsepower.
And hopefully score Busch a big playoff win.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talk a little bit about racing at Talladega.
“It’s so difficult to predict Talladega. You can ride around in the back or charge up front all day and, either way, your day can end with your car on the hook. You just hope to have Lady Luck guide you to a good finish. Restrictor-plate races have turned into this pattern that it is hard to have any type of advantage over any other team. It just comes down to being in the right place at the right time.”
Restrictor-plate racing has been described as a 200-mph chess match. How would you describe it?
“That’s pretty much it. You’ve got to be able to know the draft, understand the draft, use the draft, block other guys, find holes, make holes. It’s definitely a chess game because you’re always thinking three or four steps ahead. It’s tough to get caught up when you make a mistake. You’ve got to quickly get rid of that and put together a new plan. At the end of the race, everybody is saving their best for the end. Cars are just going everywhere. The plan you thought you had, you’ve got to make a new one. You’ve got to go on the fly.”
In order to be successful in a restrictor-plate race, you need some assistance from other drivers. How do you get that assistance when every driver out there is trying to beat one another?
“Cash? I don’t know. There are certain guys you know to draft with. There are certain guys you know they’re going to be tough. There are certain guys you might see work their way up, like the Fords always come on strong. The Roush cars are always there. The Penske cars have been tough the last five, six years at the restrictor-plate races. So, you just get a gauge as the race goes on who’s been up front all day. But you’ve got to keep track of the guys who have been hanging out in the back and they’re going to show up at the end.”
Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 31 of 36 – 1000Bulbs.com 500 – Talladega
Car No.: 41 – Monster Energy/Haas Automation 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
Talladega Notes of Interest:
· The 1000Bulbs.com 500 will mark Kurt Busch’s 643rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and 36th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Busch has eight top-five finishes and 19 top-10s at the 2.66-mile oval. Additionally, the 40-year-old driver has led 158 laps, has an average starting position of 19.1, an average finish of 15.5 and has completed 95.7 percent (6,354 of 6,641) of the laps he’s contested there.
· Busch has career totals of 30 wins, 26 poles, 137 top-fives, 277 top-10s and 9,361 laps led in 642 career starts.
· His most recent Cup Series win came seven races ago in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (Aug. 18, 2018).
· His last Cup Series pole came two races ago at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval (Sept. 28, 2018).
· 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 now 20th in the laps-led standings, having led 9,361 laps. He’s 383 laps behind Buddy Baker and 210 laps ahead of 21st-place Denny Hamlin. Busch is fifth among active drivers in laps led.
· Get to the Points – Following his fifth-place finish Sunday at Dover, Busch is sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings with 3,054 points. He has one win, six top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 30 races this season.
· Busch has been in the top-10 in points for 25 consecutive weeks. The last time he was in the top-10 for 25 consecutive weeks was when he was in the top-10 for the first 27 races of the 2016 season.
· Busch’s best finish at Talladega is second April 2018. He finished third four times (April 2001, 2002, 2007 and October 2006).
· The Las Vegas native has 26 career NASCAR Cup Series poles. Busch has never won a pole at Talladega. His best start there is second in April 2018.
· In two starts in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Talladega, Busch has one top-five finish and two top-10s.
· Restrictor-Plate Winner – Busch won the 2018 Daytona 500 to earn his first-ever win on a restrictor-plate racetrack. From a road course to short tracks, from high-banked ovals to flat tracks, Busch has now won at every type of track on the circuit.