Kurt Busch Needs A Coke Zero Sugar 400 Victory To Lock Into Playoffs

Kurt Busch

 It’s difficult to believe, but the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is reaching its halfway point. It seems like just yesterday all the haulers were loading into Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for February’s season-opening 60th Daytona 500.

The haulers will enter Daytona International Speedway once again Thursday for the 18th event of the 2018 season, the Coke Zero Sugar 400. After this race, it will be 18 down, 18 more to go.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has had a successful start to the season. He is seventh in points and has three top-five finishes, nine top-10s and 12 top-15s in 17 races. He’s won two Busch Pole Awards and has led 284 laps – the most he’s led since he led 788 for the full 2015 season.

However, Busch has not yet won in 2018 and he hopes to change that this week at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.

He won the biggest race of his career in February 2017 at Daytona, the 59th Daytona 500.

With a last-lap pass of Kyle Larson in turns one and two, Busch won the “Great American Race” in his 17th attempt. In leading the only lap that mattered, Busch scored his first points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win on a restrictor-plate racetrack, giving him victories on every type of circuit the series visits – short tracks, high-banked ovals, flat tracks and road courses.

He’s also performed well in exhibition races at Daytona.

Busch won both the Advance Auto Parts Clash and the first Can-Am Duel qualifying race at Daytona in 2011. He led three laps and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line by .058 of a second to win the Clash in 2011. Five days later, he went on to lead seven laps and beat Regan Smith to win the first Can-Am Duel 150 by .065 of a second. Busch narrowly missed a clean sweep of 2011 Speedweeks by finishing fifth in the Daytona 500, which was won by rookie Trevor Bayne.

The midterm is upon us and Busch is hoping is he can pass with a big victory that would lock him into the playoffs.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What makes success in restrictor-plate racing so elusive?

“I think being in the right place at the right time is one of the toughest things to do, but you have to have that to be successful. When you have a car built by (crew chief) Billy Scott and Stewart-Haas Racing, you feel like you have the best bullet possible when you show up for your first practice session. So, I’m thankful to have Billy Scott and everyone from SHR on my side when it comes to superspeedway racing.”

While teamwork is a part of restrictor-plate racing, eventually you need to look out for yourself. At what point in the race do you do that?

“You’re looking out for yourself on lap one, but the percentage of it changes throughout the race. You want to work together as much as you can with teammates and other guys and gals that you’ve worked with in the past. But once it gets down to the final set of tires and the final fuel run, you’re really working independently. If it comes down to a late-race restart at Daytona, what goes through my mind is it isn’t going to be the last restart. So you have to be ready to roll with whatever comes your way – what drafting lane you’re in, where your teammates are and what game plan you have put together with them. There are so many different things going on that it’s kind of like a roulette wheel – when you spin and you’ve got your money laid down, you hope you have your money in enough areas to come out on top.”

You need drafting partners in order to be successful in a restrictor-plate race. How do you pick your dance partners?

“You just quickly digest if they’re around you, in front of you, behind you. Every restart things change, every lap things change, but you’re always keeping them in mind to try and work with them.”

How much of what you experienced in the Daytona 500 is applicable to the Coke Zero 400?

“A lot of it. We finished second at Talladega. That’s all you’re trying to do – putting yourself in position to win, and that’s what we want to do again in July at Daytona.”

Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 18 of 36 –  Coke Zero Sugar 400 – Daytona

 

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: 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: Tim Hussey and Larry Lush
Hometowns: Asheboro, North Carolina, and Waynesville, 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
Daytona II Notes of Interest:
· The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will mark Kurt Busch’s 630th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 35th career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona. Busch has one win, three second-place finishes, seven top-threes, 13 top-fives, 17 top-10s and has led a total of 307 laps in his 34 career, points-paying NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona. His average start is 19.6, his average finish is 17.1 and he has a lap-completion rate of 95 percent, completing 5,689 of the 5,990 laps available.

 

· Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 24 poles, 134 top-fives, 267 top-10s and 9,161 laps led in 629 starts.

 

· His most recent Cup Series win came 53 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26, 2017).

 

· His last Cup Series pole came three races ago at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. (June 8).

 

· Busch’s lone Daytona victory is arguably his biggest NASCAR victory – the 2017 Daytona 500. With a last-lap pass of Kyle Larson in turns one and two of the 2.5-mile oval, Busch won the “Great American Race” in his 17th attempt.  In leading the only lap that mattered, Busch scored his first points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win on a restrictor-plate racetrack, giving him victories on every type of circuit the Cup Series visits – short tracks, high-banked ovals, flat tracks and road courses.

 

· Prior to his Daytona 500 triumph, Busch was already a winner at Daytona. He won the July 2012 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona. He led six times for a race-high 23 laps, taking the lead from Joey Logano on the final lap. Busch has four career Xfinity Series starts at Daytona. Busch owns two non-points wins at Daytona – the 2011 Advance Auto Parts Clash and the 2011 Can-Am Duel qualifying race.

 

· The Las Vegas native has 24 career Sprint Cup poles. Busch has never won a pole at Daytona. His best start there is third for the 2011 Daytona 500.

 

· Busch’s first career start at Daytona came on Feb. 18, 2000, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. He qualified his Ford F-150 34th and then drove it to a strong second-place finish behind race-winner Mike Wallace. It remains Busch’s only Truck Series start at Daytona.

 

· Busch made three IROC Series starts at Daytona and finished second twice (2003 and 2004). He won the 2003 IROC championship by finishing second at Daytona, winning at Talladega, finishing third at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and fourth in the finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

· 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, has led 9,161 laps, and he’s 583 laps behind Buddy Baker while he is 79 laps ahead of 21st-place Denny Hamlin. Busch is fifth among active drivers in laps led.

 

· Get to the Points – With his 17th-place finish last week at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Busch is seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 560 points. He has three top-five finishes, nine top-10s and 12 top-15s in 17 races.

 

· Busch has been in the top-10 in points for 12 consecutive weeks. The last time he was in the top-10 for 12 consecutive weeks was when he was in the top-10 for the first 27 races of the 2016 season.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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