Kurt Busch Is Gaining Ground And Closing In

Kurt Busch

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 9, 2016) – “We are good, we are doing everything right, we just have to find that last little step to be great. Tony Gibson (crew chief) really knows how to lead these guys and we are just knocking on the door in all the right areas. We just have to put it together for that total piece. We are so far the best car that hasn’t won a race and I know, if we keep this effort up, it will come to us.”

Those were the words of Kurt Busch following the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Saturday night. After equaling his season-best performance with a third-place finish, Busch and his No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) knew they were oh-so-close to scoring their first win of the 2016 season.

Even though they have yet to make it to victory lane, Busch and the No. 41 team have consistently been one that cannot be overlooked. Busch is off to one of the strongest starts of his NASCAR career, having scored more top-10 finishes through 11 races than any of his previous 15 seasons of full-time Sprint Cup competition, and he enters this weekend’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism ranked fifth in Sprint Cup points.

Since finishing a disappointing 30th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on March 20, he’s been closing in on his first win of the season. With the exception of that less-than-desired finish at Fontana as a result of contact from another driver, he hasn’t recorded a finish worse than 13th, and has five top-10 finishes in as many races. The string of steady performances has Busch sitting as the highest-ranked driver in points still seeking his first win of the season.

Heading to Dover, Busch is looking to continue his 2016 consistency. The high-banked, concrete mile oval has been a site of victory for the Las Vegas native, and while it may not be one of his strongest tracks of late – Busch’s best finish in four starts there since joining SHR is 17th – he does have reason to believe this weekend may put an end to that streak as his teammate Kevin Harvick turned in a dominant performance when the Sprint Cup Series last raced there in October. With the information sharing between the Nos. 4 and 41 teams, Busch stands to benefit from that performance this time around.

Regardless of the outcome in Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism, Busch will be keenly aware of the information that can be gleaned from this mid-May race at Dover. The series will return to the ultra-fast oval in October for the third race of the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and, as a driver who can be considered all but a lock to make the 16-driver playoffs, Busch will be learning valuable information during each lap of practice, qualifying and the 400-lap Sprint Cup feature knowing it can be applied to the first cut race of the elimination-style Chase.

This weekend, Busch hopes to continue building on his consistency and finally breaking through to victory lane for the first time this season. After all, he knows another win at Dover will solidify the No. 41 team’s 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth.

 

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What is it about Dover that makes it such a challenging racetrack, and what do you have to do be successful there?

“The tough thing about Dover is things happen so quickly. At any moment at any time, somebody can spin in front of you or you can lose control off the corners and you are going to wreck. There is no real forgiveness about Dover. That is what makes it tough. To be good there, you have to be good on corner exit. The track really rubbers in so you can see the concrete change to black as the weekend progresses. On corner exit, you get really tight or really loose. The time I won there, I could almost hold it wide open on corner exit. That is what you’ve got to have.”

Do you feel it has earned its nickname?

“It’s called the Monster Mile for a reason – the track can chew up cars and spit them out. It’s because of those tough transitions into the corners with the high banking and even the high-banked straightaways. It’s tough to do that sharp of a turn on a mile racetrack. It’s like you literally jump down into the corner and then jump back up out of the corner onto the straightaway, and so those points of the track are the toughest part – the transition from straightaway to corner. It’s a fun track to drive.”

How physically demanding of a racetrack is Dover?

“You’re just on edge there and, the speed that you have to carry on corner exit, you’re right there at the wall every corner exit and you do it 800 times with 400 laps and two corner exits. That makes it tough. This race will wear you out, for sure, and you have to pace yourself.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 12 of 36 – AAA 400 Drive for Autism – Dover

Car No.: 41 – Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet

Teammates: Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery/Autism Delaware Chevrolet SS

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS

At-Track PR Contact: Rory Connellan, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 811, Rory.Connellan@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kurt Busch
Hometown: Las Vegas
Crew Chief: Tony Gibson
Hometown: Daytona Beach, Florida
Car Chief: Chad Haney
Hometown: Fairmont, West Virginia
Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports
Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Stephen Raynor
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Spotter: Rick Carelli
Hometown: Denver
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Rick Pigeon
Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont
Front Tire Changer: Shane Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Second Gas Man: Justin Wilson
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Front Tire Carrier: Jon Bernal
Hometown: Holland, Michigan
Windshield: Jay Guarneri (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Naples, Florida
Rear Tire Changer: Coleman Dollarhide
Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina
Jackman: Sean Cotten
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Rear Tire Carrier: Dwayne Moore
Hometown: Griffin, Georgia
Road Crew Members:
Truck Driver: Todd Cable and Rocky Boggs
Hometowns: Shelby, North Carolina, and Burlington, North Carolina
Tire Specialist: Jeff Zarrella
Hometown: Southington, Connecticut
Shock Specialist: Brian Holshouser
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Engineers: Johnny Klausmeier and Mike Cook
Hometowns: Perry Hall, Maryland, and Annapolis, Maryland
Mechanic: Shawn Warren
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Mechanic: Andy Spenner
Hometown: Hoyleton, Illinois
Chassis No. 933
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 933 in Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover (Del) International Speedway. Built new for 2015, Chassis No. 933 debuted at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, when Busch finished 10th. It was next raced at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where Busch again finished 10th. Chassis No. 933 was utilized again at Charlotte in October, when Busch recorded a fifth-place finish. Chassis No. 933 made its first start of the 2016 season at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last month, when Busch scored a third-place finish.

 

Dover International Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 27 wins, 21 poles, 119 top-five finishes and 231 top-10s in 551 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autismat Dover (Del) International Speedway. His most recent Sprint Cup win came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on June 14, 2015.
  • Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism will mark Busch’s 32nd career Sprint Cup start at Dover.Busch has one win, six top-five finishes and eight top-10s at the concrete mile oval. Additionally, the 37-year-old driver has led 426 laps, has an average starting position of 11.8, an average finish of 18.6, and has completed 94.1 percent (11,673 of 12,409) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • The Las Vegas native has 21 career Sprint Cup poles. Busch has never won a pole at Dover. His best qualifying effort is second, where he has started twice – June 2008 and October 2011. 
  • Previous Winner – Busch started second and led 90 of 400 laps at Dover en route to recording his 24th Sprint Cup victory on Oct. 2, 2011.Busch grabbed the lead from Jimmie Johnson on the final restart and paced the final 42 circuits to win by .908 of a second over Johnson.
  • Streaking – Busch has scored more top-10 finishes – nine – through the first 11 races of a season than any of his 15 previous seasons of full-time Sprint Cup Series competition.
  • Busch won the Camping World Truck Series race at Dover in September 2000.Busch started from the pole and led nine laps en route to the win in his only Truck Series start at Dover.
  • Get to the Points – With his third-place finish Saturday night in the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Busch enters Dover fifth in the Sprint Cup driver standings.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Dover – In 38 overall starts at Dover, SHR-prepared Chevrolets have earned one pole, two wins, four top-five finishes and 11 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 737 laps, and have completed 98.5 percent of the laps contested (14,986 of 15,220).
  • SHR in 2016 – 11 races into the 2016 season, SHR’s four Sprint Cup entries have recorded one win, two poles, eight top-five finishes and 20 top-10s. SHR Chevrolets have completed 13,841 of 14,016 laps contested, and collectively have led 777 laps.

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

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