Can Kurt Busch Go Back-To-Back?

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn as both the defending winner of the FireKeepers Casino 400 and as the most recent Sprint Cup Series race winner, having claimed the checkered flag in Monday’srain-postponed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Monday’s victory put Busch in a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rex White for 25th on the all-time series win list, and it also secured his spot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. While there’s still plenty of racing to be done between now and Nov. 20, when the championship is decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway, there’s a bit of pressure that’s relieved for the Las Vegas native. Knowing he’s headed into the postseason, Busch and his Tony Gibson-led crew can now race aggressively for additional wins.

And that all starts this weekend, when the 28-time Sprint Cup Series race winner will look to score back-to-back victories for the second time in his career. He’ll do so at a racetrack where he’s won three times.

Busch scored his first Michigan win during the track’s June race in 2003, leading 23 laps along the way. He scored his second Michigan win with more of an exclamation point by leading a race-high 92 laps on Aug. 21, 2007. In his most recent win, Busch overcame adversity by winning the rain-shortened Michigan 400 in 2015 after starting 24th in a backup racecar.

In addition to his three victories, Busch has a pair of poles, having earned the top starting spot for the track’s June races in both 2010 and 2011.

Optimism is high for the driver of the Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet, knowing that Michigan has been a strong racetrack for SHR in recent years, as well. Teammate Kevin Harvick has claimed second-place finishes in three of the four races since joining SHR in 2014.

Busch has been among the top-10 finishers in the last eight races, a career-best streak for the Las Vegas native. He’d like nothing more than to extend that streak by scoring his second victory of the season Sunday at Michigan, as another win this weekend would greatly improve his standing in the Chase field. The 16 drivers who qualify for the Chase will have their point totals reset to 2,000 and will be seeded based on bonus points – three per win – earned prior to the start of the Chase. Busch and the Haas Automation/Monster Energy team will put all their focus and determination into finding their way to victory lane once again.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Talk about racing at Michigan.

“Michigan is a sister track to Pocono. I hope we can back up our win there that we had in last year’s race. We worked our way from the back in a back-up car all the way to the front right at the right time. We got the lead and then the rain came. A lot of luck is involved in this day and age. We’ve got to have it all if we are going to position ourselves to win. Tony Gibson (crew chief) continues to give 100 percent as well as everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing to keep plugging away. It’s good that we are second in points. It feels nice.”

What is the key to getting around Michigan?

“Michigan is a tough place because of the way the cars have that grip level on fresh tires versus old tires. What I mean by that is when you put on fresh tires, your tires are cold and they don’t grab the asphalt as well. A lot of guys try to stay out at Michigan with the hot tires on and they get better restarts. Restarts at Michigan are already pretty wild with how wide the track is and how many lanes there are for options. It comes down to just trying to put yourself in the best position with the best-percentage chance on whether it’s fresh tires, or it’s staying out, or it’s making spots up on restarts.”

What is the toughest part of the track for you?

“The toughest part I think is turn three. It seems like the cars do this weird, four-wheel, light drift getting down in there. If your car is dialed in, and I’ve won there three times, it feels like turn three is the easiest corner. Turn three to me is the challenge each time I go there.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 15 of 36 – FireKeepers Casino 400 – Michigan

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


Teammates: Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS

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

DRIVER, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS

At-Track PR Contact: Rory Connellan, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 811,
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. 978
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 978 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in Sunday’sFirekeepers Casino 400. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 978 was scheduled to race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California in March, but Busch was forced to a backup car after making contact with the outside retaining wall in practice. Since then, chassis No. 978 has been updated in preparation for this weekend’s race at Michigan.


Michigan International Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 28 wins, 21 poles, 121 top-five finishes and 234 top-10s in 554 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sFireKeepers Casino 400at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. His most recent Sprint Cup win came in Monday’s rain-delayed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. With the win, Busch moved into a tie for 25th on the all-time series wins list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rex White.
  • Previous Winner – Busch has raced his way to victory lane at Michigan on three occasions. His first win came in June 2003, when he snatched the lead from Jeff Gordon with 24 laps to go en route to claiming his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. His second win came in August 2007. Busch took the lead at the halfway point and then dominated the second half, leading 92 of 203 laps. He held off the field in a green-white-checkered finish to claim his 17th Sprint Cup victory. Busch is the defending race winner at Michigan, having scored the victory when the Sprint Cup Series visited there last June. He overcame adversity, winning the rain-shortened Michigan 400 after starting 24th in a backup racecar. Busch led six laps en route to the win, which marked his 27th career Sprint Cup victory.
  • Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400will mark Busch’s 31st career Sprint Cup start at Michigan.Busch has two poles, three wins, five top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at the 2-mile oval. Additionally, the 37-year-old driver has led 448 laps, has an average starting position of 12.5, an average finish of 20.6, and has completed 87.3 percent (5,100 of 5,839) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • The Las Vegas native has two poles to his credit (June 2010, June 2011) at Michigan. Busch has 21 career Sprint Cup poles.
  • Get to the Points – With his win Monday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Busch enters Michigan second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings. More importantly, the win virtually guarantees his No. 41 team a spot in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, provided they are among the top-30 in points after the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Sept. 10, 2016.
  • Thus Far in 2016… Busch has accumulated two poles, one win, five top-five finishes and a series-leading 12 top-10s in 14 starts. Busch is also the only driver to have completed every lap this season.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Michigan – In 38 overall starts at Michigan, SHR-prepared Chevrolets have earned one pole, one win, eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 228 laps, and have completed 98.2 percent of the laps contested (7,231 of 7,360).
  • SHR in 2016 – 14 races into the 2016 season, SHR’s four Sprint Cup entries have recorded two wins, two poles, 11 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s. SHR Chevrolets have completed 17,569 of 17,856 laps contested, and collectively have led 935 laps.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.