Kurt Busch Is Turning Up The Heat In The Round Of Eight

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), turned in a solid fourth-place finish Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to secure his advancement into the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Busch’s recent performances certainly show things are heating up at the right time as he continues his pursuit of his second championship in NASCAR’s premier series.

And, as the No. 41 Chevrolet SS this weekend wears the colors of State Water Heaters, a leading manufacturer of commercial and residential water heaters, the timing couldn’t be better for Busch and his team’s anticipated heat wave on the racetrack.

State Water Heaters, based in Ashland, Tennessee, has seven water heater manufacturing plants and hundreds of distribution centers across the United States to ensure efficient service to the company’s national customer base of homeowners, wholesalers, contractors and members of the engineering community.

SHR, Busch and State Water Heaters have become champions in their respective trades thanks to their level of commitment. And this weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Busch hopes to celebrate the partnership with some shared success at a racetrack where he’s twice found his way to victory lane.

Busch won his first race at Martinsville in October 2002. It was his second Sprint Cup victory and a record-breaking one, at that, as he took the green flag from the 36th starting position – the deepest in the field a Martinsville winner had ever started. He took the lead for the first time on the 389th of 500 laps and lost it for only one lap the rest of the way. His racecar fishtailed off of turn two several times in the closing laps, allowing Johnny Benson to mount a challenge. Busch ran the final 10 laps with Benson on his bumper but was able to hold on and secure his first win at the .526-mile oval.

Fast-forward to March 2014, when victory lane seemed like an unlikely destination for Busch and the No. 41 team from SHR at the rough-and-tumble .526-mile oval. Busch had a fast racecar, but a pit-road incident came close to ruining the day. Busch’s Chevy sustained damage after drivers Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski collided during a round of pit stops under caution. After an extra trip to pit road for repairs, Busch restarted the race deep in the field – in 38th place. Thanks to a combination of smart pit work and the driver’s on-track savvy, Busch was able to work his way to the front of the field, where he and Jimmie Johnson traded the lead a handful of times over the final 30 laps. Busch took the lead for good on lap 490, holding off a bold move by Johnson out of turn four on the final lap. Busch ended an 83-race winless streak and scored his first victory for SHR.
With this year’s Chase Round of 12 in the rearview mirror and the points reset for the eight drivers still eligible for the championship, Busch heads to Martinsville this weekend looking not only for his second win of the season, but also to accomplish what he did in the opening race of the Round of 12 – to simply maximize his points position by turning in a solid performance.
While a third Martinsville win would add to the list of successes that Busch has experienced at the paperclip-shaped racetrack, it would do much more than that for the Las Vegas native’s 2016 championship hopes. A win this weekend would guarantee him a spot in the final, winner-take-all Championship Round Nov. 20 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And having scored victories at each of the remaining racetracks on the schedule –Martinsville, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Phoenix International Raceway and at Homestead – Busch certainly can’t be counted out as a threat for the 2016 championship.


KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Talk about heading to Martinsville this weekend and kicking off the Round of 8.

“If we can go to Martinsville and win that bad boy, that changes the whole Chase complexion. That’s what happened last year when Jeff Gordon won there. That gave him his shot at the championship. We’re doing our job as a team. We’ve had some luck on our side, and we’ve had good speed in our racecars.”


What is it that makes Martinsville such a special racetrack?

“I know that everybody looks forward to Martinsville to see the action at a short track. It’s very different than all the other racetracks on the circuit because of the intimate setting. Pit road, the racetrack, the fans are right on top of it and, as drivers and teams, you feel that intensity from the fans and so it’s great to have their passion. And the ability for the fans to be so close to the action at Martinsville, that’s what makes it so unique.”


Martinsville has been a good track for you. Is there a reason that the track suits you?

“It’s been a good track to me over the years. It’s one of those tough tracks, though. Short tracks, things happen. Things move quickly. I think it has to do with level of patience and technology advancements each time we race at Martinsville. Sometimes the racecar drives very differently. Some of the old patterns that we all learned as short-track racers apply, but you have to apply them in different ways.”


Talk about the evolution from a time when brakes were the most important thing to now, where it’s all about finding grip.

“Technology has advanced so far to where the brakes aren’t necessarily an issue. It used to be that brakes were the main concern. You had to make sure you saved them, that you didn’t wear them out and that you had them for the latter part of the race. Now, with newer technology, the brakes don’t seem to have as many issues, but it’s a matter of how much you can get out of the rear tires for grip, which has always been an issue at Martinsville, trying to get that traction out of the corner and down the straightaway. For me, it’s all about corner exit. It’s trying to get that traction put down and trying to turn underneath another car to complete a pass.”

State Water Heaters Racing Team Report

Round 33 of 36 – Goody’s Fast Relief 500 – Martinsville

Car No.: 41 – State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS


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

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

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation 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. 865
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 865 in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Formerly a No. 10 chassis for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Danica Patrick, Chassis No. 865 debuted in March 2014 at Martinsville, where Patrick started 10th but struggled with an ill-handling racecar and finished 32nd. Its next event was in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where she started 29th and finished 22nd. Chassis No. 865 then raced again at Martinsville in October, where Patrick started 30th and finished 34th after being involved in a massive accident on the frontstretch late in the race. Chassis No. 865 was utilized in both races at Martinsville in 2015, where Busch finished 14th in March and was in contention for the win in October when he was caught up in an incident not of his own making and was relegated to a 34th-place finish. Chassis No. 865 last raced at Martinsville in March, when Busch finished 13th.


Martinsville Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 28 wins, 21 poles, 124 top-five finishes and 242 top-10s in 572 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) 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.
  • Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 will mark Busch’s 33rd career Sprint Cup start at Martinsville. Busch has two wins, one pole, three top-five finishes and five top-10s at the .526-mile oval. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 464 laps, has an average starting position of 19.7, an average finish of 21.2, and has completed 97.2 percent (15,586 of 16,034) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Twice a Winner at Martinsville – Busch won his first race at Martinsville in October 2002. It was his second Sprint Cup victory and a record-breaking one at that as he took the green flag from the 36th starting position – the deepest in the field a Martinsville winner had ever started. His most-recent Martinsville win came in March 2014. He held off six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and eight-time Martinsville race-winner Jimmie Johnson to win the Martinsville 500.
  • The Las Vegas native has one pole to his credit (October 2006) at Martinsville.Busch has 21 career Sprint Cup poles.
  • A Place of Firsts – Busch’s March 2014 win at Martinsville was the first for Haas Automation as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series. Prior to Martinsville, Haas Automation was winless as a primary sponsor for 11 different drivers and 115 races since 2002. Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western World, is owned by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) founder and co-owner Gene Haas.
  • Thus Far in 2016 – Busch has one win, two poles, eight top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 32 starts.
  • Get to the Points – Joining Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick in advancing to the Round of 8 are Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. All had their respective point tallies reset to 4,000.
  • Busch has wins at each of the remaining Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship tracks. He has one apiece at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Phoenix International Raceway and at Homestead-Miami Speedway to go along with his pair of wins at Martinsville.
  • SHR at Martinsville – In 42 previous Sprint Cup races at Martinsville, SHR has posted one pole, three wins, six top-fives and 17 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 504 laps, and have completed 97.6 percent of the laps contested (20,552 of 21,048).
  • SHR in 2016 – 32 races into the 2016 season, SHR’s four Sprint Cup entries have recorded six wins, three poles, 28 top-five finishes and 53 top-10s. SHR Chevrolets have completed 35,600 of 36,552 laps contested, and collectively have led 1,609 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.