Kurt Busch Could Play The Role Of Spoiler At Homestead

Kurt Busch

For the second consecutive year, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finds himself out of contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. So, for the second consecutive year, he’ll head to Homestead-Miami Speedway looking to play the role of spoiler in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale by winning the race.

 

The 2004 Sprint Cup champion was eliminated from contention Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway after finishing fifth in the Round of 8 in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs. Busch entered the race essentially needing to win after finishes of 22nd at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and 20th at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth saw him enter Phoenix with a 34-point deficit.

 

So, while he may enter the final race of the 2016 season no longer eligible to win the championship, there’s still one opportunity for Busch to earn his second victory of the year. Enter this weekend’s event in Miami.

 

Since making his first Sprint Cup start at the 1.5-mile oval in 2000, Busch has one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s there. While the South Florida track hasn’t historically been one of Busch’s strongest suits, it will always have a special place for him, as it was there that he won the Sprint Cup championship in 2004.

 

Busch went into that weekend with an 18-point lead in the standings. He started on the pole and, needing only to finish ahead of four drivers – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin – Busch was able to run with the leaders for the first 90 laps until, as he was coming to pit road, the right-front wheel broke off his racecar. He miraculously missed hitting the outside pit wall by less than a foot, then was able to make his way to his pit stall and remain on the lead lap despite the setback.

 

From there, Busch moved forward through the caution-filled race and, while his two closest championship rivals Johnson and Gordon took second and third place, respectively, Busch’s fifth-place finish – his 21st top-10 of the year – was enough to win the first Chase-format championship.

 

Two years prior to scoring the championship at Homestead, Busch celebrated his lone victory there while his current teammate and car co-owner Tony Stewart celebrated winning the first of his three Cup Series championships on the frontstretch. Busch led the first 10 laps, passed Ryan Newman on lap 256, and held onto the lead in the 267-lap season finale, bringing home his fourth victory of the 2002 season.

 

Busch would like nothing more than to put one more mark in the win column before the 2016 season comes to a close. So, for the second consecutive year, Busch will attempt to play the role of spoiler this weekend in Miami, trying to steal the spotlight with a victory in the final race of the 2016 season.

 

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

“Homestead is a fast, mile-and-a-half racetrack. It’s a sister racetrack to Texas, to me. It’s an older racetrack, the worn-out asphalt is similar to Texas and, if you ran well at Texas, you’ll run well at Miami. There’s a lot that carries over from one to the other. I believe the tire codes might even be the same. Since 2004, there’s been a nostalgic feeling when I get to Homestead. Winning the championship in the first year of the Chase was a magical time for me.”

 

What’s it like for you, as a driver, to have seen Homestead change so much over the years?

“Homestead is a lot of fun to race on, both the old configuration and the current configuration with the multiple grooves of banking. With the old configuration, it was all about the bottom of the racetrack, how you could exit the corner and make the straightaways longer. It was all about the softest springs you could run because you wanted the car as low as possible. Now, with the way the cars are set up, you have to have stiffer springs to manage the banking. You have to shoot for the middle. You run the middle groove in practice. That way, you can get to the bottom and not have your car so far off on setup, and then you can go to the high groove when the tires wear out to keep your momentum up high. But then you have those crazy restarts and that is what this racetrack is perfectly designed for. That mad dash at the beginning with fresh tires, it’s the ultimate place because it puts it more in the driver’s hands.”

 

Talk a little bit about the race at Homestead from a fan’s perspective. 

“NASCAR has always been about family. A family can come and find all types of different activities around the event. Perfect weather, usually. The race ends right around nightfall, so you can get back home before it gets too late on that Sunday night and get the kids back to school on Monday.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 36 of 36 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Finale – Homestead

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 TaxACT Chevrolet SS

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Always a Racer/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. 993
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 993 in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 993 debuted at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, where Busch earned his seventh top-five finish in the annual non-points race. Since then, Chassis No. 993 has been updated and will see its first points-paying laps of the season in Sunday’s 400-mile race.

 

Homestead-Miami Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 28 wins, 21 poles, 125 top-five finishes and 243 top-10s in 575 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Finale at Homestead-Miami 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 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Finale will mark Busch’s 16th career Sprint Cup start at Homestead. Busch has two poles, one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 97 laps, has an average starting position of 13.7, an average finish of 18.5, and has completed 97.8 percent (3,521 of 4,010) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Previous Winner – Busch started from the pole and led 28 laps at Homestead en route to recording his fourth Sprint Cup victory on Nov. 17, 2002. At the age of 24 years, 3 months, 13 days, Busch became the youngest winner at the track – a record that still stands.
  • The Las Vegas native has two poles to his credit (2002, 2004) at Homestead.Busch has 21 career Sprint Cup poles.
  • Busch has made one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Homestead.He finished ninth.
  • Thus Far in 2016 – Busch has one win, two poles, nine top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 35 starts.
  • Testing, Testing – Busch and the No. 41 team spent Oct. 18 and 19 at Homestead participating in a Goodyear tire test in preparation for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Finale.
  • Get to the Points – With his fifth-place effort Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch finished the Round of 8 of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eighth in the standings, 37 points out of fourth. He was one of four drivers eliminated from championship contention following the Can-Am 500k.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Homestead – In 19 overall starts at Homestead, SHR-prepared Chevrolets have earned two wins, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 213 laps, and have completed 98.2 percent of the laps contested (4,984 of 5,073).
  • SHR in 2016 – 35 races into the 2016 season, SHR’s four Sprint Cup entries have recorded six wins, three poles, 30 top-five finishes and 56 top-10s. SHR Chevrolets have completed 40,044 of 40,930 laps contested and collectively have led 1,609 laps.

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

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