Kurt Busch Is Ready For The Round Of Twelve

Kurt Busch pit stop

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is one of 12 drivers whose championship dreams continue as the field of 16 drivers eligible for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship was trimmed to 12 following Sunday’s 400-mile race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

 

For Busch, a second championship in NASCAR’s premier series is something that has eluded him for 11 seasons. It’s not that he hasn’t been in contention over the years; it’s just that he’s fallen short of his ultimate goal. While it seems like a long time in a sport in which things happen at 200 mph, NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte owns the record for time between championships, with a total of 12 seasons between his two titles. It just goes to show that Busch’s window is still very much open.

 

Heading into Saturday night’s 500-mile race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch’s focus is on scoring a strong finish to begin building a solid foundation of points in the Round of 12. That is his focus. Once his on-track obligations are complete, however, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion’s focus will shift to a championship contender of another sort, one that is experiencing an even more significant title drought –his beloved Chicago Cubs.

 

Busch was just a kid in Las Vegas when he adopted Chicago sports teams as his own, and his love for the Cubs hasn’t faded one iota through the years. His support of the Chicago sports teams stems from the fact his parents hail from the Windy City, so it’s only natural for him to support the “hometown” teams.

 

In 2000, Busch made his first visit to Wrigley Field to watch his Cubs. He readily admits that he got a tear in his eye as he sat in the bleachers and took in the electric atmosphere at the historic ballpark. Since that first visit to Wrigley, Busch has been back to watch his “Cubbies” numerous times.

 

In 2002, Busch was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch before a game. Since then, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has thrown out the first pitch several other times at Wrigley, and also has led the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.

 

The Cubs, who last won the World Series in 1908, are established as favorites to finally win another World Series this year and put an end to their long championship drought. For Busch, the joy of finally seeing his beloved team as a champion could only be surpassed by himself finally scoring another championship.

 

Having scored victories at five of the seven tracks remaining on the schedule – one apiece at Charlotte, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Phoenix International Raceway and at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and twice at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Busch can’t be counted out as a threat for the 2016 championship.

 

Busch has proven he knows what it takes to get around Charlotte, having claimed the checkered flag in the 2010 Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race. Perhaps, this weekend, he’ll be able to score a second Charlotte win and take another step toward his second Sprint Cup championship.

 

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What would it mean to win this weekend at Charlotte?

“Charlotte is always a marquee event, I believe, no matter if it’s the spring or the fall. Charlotte is the only night race in the Chase. A lot of bragging rights are on the line because all the race shops are here in Charlotte. It’s just one of those special tracks that is also one of the toughest ones to win on and we race there so often. There’s the All-Star Race and, for guys who aren’t in the All-Star race, there’s the Showdown, and we have the 600-miler, the 500-miler, a lot of laps at Charlotte. It kind of makes you feel like the old-school days that this is your home track and you want to defend it.”

 

What’s the toughest part about Charlotte?

“The toughest part is always that turn three. If you can get your car to cut properly into turn three, it seems like the racetrack just gives you extra speed. If you struggle in turn three, then that makes for a longer day.”

 

Do you have to fight the car all night at Charlotte, or do you just take one big swing at it when the sun goes down and dig from there?

“You set it up for the cooler track conditions. It is always faster in October than it is in May. Usually once the sun sets, which is early in this race, then it’s hammer down. It’s like you are running qualifying laps for the whole race.”

 

How can you run qualifying laps for 500 miles around Charlotte?

“It’s tough the way that the tires build up air pressure, the way that you are out there in traffic, but the grip level of the tires is really good at this track. The banking is high, temperatures are cool, it’s a night race, which is what leads it to the aggressive lap times. It’s not just that we are doing it on our own. It’s that the conditions are providing us that atmosphere.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 30 of 36 – Bank of America 500 – Charlotte

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

 

Teammates: Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Hunting Chevrolet SS

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rev the Vote 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. 1016
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 1016 in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Built new for 2016, Chassis 1016 saw its first laps of competition last month at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, where Busch struggled with an ill-handling racecar throughout the 400-mile race and finished 13th.

 

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 28 wins, 21 poles, 123 top-five finishes and 240 top-10s in 569 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts heading into Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. His most recent Sprint Cup win came at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June. With the win, Busch moved into a tie for 25th on the all-time series wins list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rex White.
  • The Bank of America 500 will mark Busch’s 33rd career Sprint Cup start at Charlotte.Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval.Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 623 laps, has an average starting position of 19.6, an average finish of 18.2 and has completed 91.5 percent (10,484 of 11,454) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Big Win in the 2010 Sprint All-Star Race –The Las Vegas native started from the pole, brushed the wall early, but was able to get back to the front after the final mandatory pit stop before the 10-lap shootout to the finish. He avoided a multicar accident late in the race to win the $1 million grand prize in the non-points event.
  • Previous Winner – Busch started second and led 252 of 400 laps at Charlotte en route to recording his 22nd Sprint Cup victory on May 30, 2010.Busch held off a hard-charging Jamie McMurray to score his only points-paying victory at Charlotte. He won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race the week before, becoming just the seventh driver to win both races in the same year.
  • The Las Vegas native has 21 career Sprint Cup poles. Busch has never won a pole at Charlotte. His best start there is second, where he has started three times (October 2005, and May 2010 and 2013).
  • In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte, Busch has a best finish of second in May 2006.
  • Thus Far in 2016 – Busch has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 29 starts.
  • Busch has won at all but three of the 10 Chase tracks. He is winless at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
  • Get to the Points – Joining Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick in advancing to the Round of 12 are Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Austin Dillon. All had their respective point tallies reset to 3,000.
  • SHR at Charlotte – In 42 overall starts at Charlotte, SHR-prepared Chevrolets have earned three poles, one win, six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 536 laps, and have completed 95.7 percent of the laps contested (14,551 of 15,204).
  • SHR in 2016 – 29 races into the 2016 season, SHR’s four Sprint Cup entries have recorded five wins, two poles, 26 top-five finishes and 48 top-10s. SHR Chevrolets have completed 32,607 of 33,380 laps contested and collectively have led 1,521 laps.

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

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