Kurt Busch Has Come Full Circle Back Home To Ford Performance

Kurt Busch

As Kurt Busch embarks on his 17th full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and his fourth with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), he has a good reason to feel right at home as the driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion, as the 2017 marks a homecoming for Busch to Ford Motor Company, the manufacturer with whom he won the 2004 Cup Series championship.

It was Busch’s first Cup Series title and Ford’s most recent. Now reunited, the goal is to once again hoist the trophy during the season-ending Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch will attempt to surpass NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte’s record for time between championships –12 seasons separated Labonte’s two titles in 1984 and 1996 – and do it with the Dearborn, Michigan-based manufacturer with whom his NASCAR Cup Series career began.

The story of Busch’s start in NASCAR is well documented. While racing in the Southwest Tour Series, his skill attracted the attention of team owner Jack Roush, who decided to host driver auditions for a team he fielded in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The auditions were informally known as “The Gong Show” and Roush invited Busch to participate. In a pivotal moment in Busch’s life, he won the audition and started competing in Ford F-150s for Roush in 2000. Since then, both Busch and Ford have gone on to experience much success. But, there’s more to be had, and to be had together.

That all starts with the 59th Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Three times a runner-up in the season-opening event, Busch is still seeking his first Harley J. Earl trophy. In fact, while he’s found victory lane at Daytona before, in 2011’s Advance Auto Parts Clash and Can-Am Duel, he’s yet to score a win in a points-paying race at either Daytona or its sister racetrack, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. While he hasn’t found victory, he’s almost always found a way to be in contention at the end. And that, in a race that is known for unpredictable racing with the high likelihood of large, multi-car accidents at any moment, is an impressive feat that cannot be overlooked.

Busch has been listed as running at the end of 30 of 31 career points-paying Cup Series starts at Daytona. While he’s seemingly mastered the art of finishing Daytona races, it’s the finishing first part he’s yet to figure out. In fact, a superspeedway win is the only kind that has eluded him during his 18-year Cup Series career. With a victory in the Daytona 500, Busch would join an elite list of drivers who have won at every type of track on the circuit: superspeedway, speedway, intermediate, short track and road course.

So, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Daytona to kick off the 2017 season, Busch hopes being reunited with Ford can help him not only to finally find his way to victory in the Daytona 500, but also to improve upon his successes of the last four seasons with SHR. While he’s made the playoffs each year with the Kannapolis, North Carolina-based team, he’s fallen short of contending for the championship late in the playoffs.

With the 16-driver Cup Series championship format, all it takes is just one win to lock a driver and team into the playoffs. Busch would like nothing more than to score that win in the 59th Daytona 500, marking his first victory in the prestigious event and placing him well on his way to reaching his season-long goal of winning his second Cup Series title.

 

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
You’re the most recent Ford NASCAR Cup Series champion. How special would it be to be able to win another for the company?
“It is a special homecoming feeling to head back to work with Ford and to have them with our power and our bodies at Stewart-Haas Racing. It really feels neat to come back to a place where I’ve seen the faces before and the way that the structure has been polished up on and the way that there’s more depth with Ford Performance. Edsel (Ford) has done an incredible job over the last decade to continue to improve. Guys like Raj Nair, Dave Pericak – the whole gang is ready and willing to help in all areas and directions and the best thing that I’ve seen already come out of things with the engineering staff at Stewart-Haas. It’s like they just opened up a whole new book of things to look at and to advance our program further from where we were.”
You can’t test like you once were able to in January. So how do you, as a driver, adjust to a change like the one that has been made at Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2017 season?
“It’s because the teams have more depth. There is more simulation. The engineering staff has gone through things at a much higher level, whereas it used to be the driver and the crew chief who would go to the track and then come back with a notebook of things. Now the notebook has been gone through by the lead engineers and they’ve prepared it as best as possible before we show up. Limited track time saves money but, at the same time, you end up spending it on personnel and hiring the key guys to make the cars safer, faster, stronger, and I know we’ve done a great job to transition with Ford because I’ve seen some of the drawings and the way that Doug Yates has the engine set up. We had to change a few of our suspension settings to adapt to the way he had his engine set up, so there might be a couple bugs here or there, but I’m not too worried about it. We’ve got really good, quality people at Stewart-Haas with Yates engines.”
Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 1 of 36 – 59th Daytona 500 – Daytona Speedweeks

Car No.: 41 – Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion

 

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: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Engine Specialist: Todd Hamm
Hometown: Kutztown, Pennsylvania

 

Spotter: Tony Raines
Hometown: Laporte, Indiana

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Rick Pigeon
Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont
Front Tire Changer: Shane Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois

Second Gas Man: Scott Barnette

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

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: J.D. Frey
Hometown: Ferndale, California

 

Mechanic: Andy Spenner
Hometown: Hoyleton, Illinois
Advance Auto Parts Clash Car – Chassis No. 965:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 965 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the Advance Auto Parts Clash. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 965 debuted in The Clash last February at Daytona, when Busch finished seventh in the attrition-filled, non-points race. It raced again at Daytona in July, when Busch was in position to challenge for his first points-paying restrictor-plate victory but was spun on the final turn of the final lap and relegated to a 23rd-place finish. It most recently raced at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October, when Busch finished fourth. Since then, the car has received chassis updates and the body has been updated for 2017. It was wind-tunnel tested in January in preparation for the Clash.
Advance Auto Parts Clash Notes of Interest:
  • Busch won both the Advance Auto Parts Clash and the first Can-Am Duel at Daytona in 2011. Busch led three laps and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line by 0.058 of a second to win the Clash in 2011. That same year, he went on to lead seven laps and beat Regan Smith to win the first Can-Am Duel 150 by 0.065 of a second. Busch narrowly missed a clean sweep of 2011 Speedweeks by finishing fifth in the Daytona 500, which was won by rookie Trevor Bayne.
  • In 13 Clash starts, Busch has one win, two top-five finishes and five top-10s.Busch has started from the pole twice in his 13 starts – his first Clash in 2002 and again in 2008. He has led five races for a total of 24 laps.
  • Exhibition Wins Not Limited to The Clash – Busch’s success in NASCAR exhibition races extends beyond the Clash. The Las Vegas native also has a win in the 2010 NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Busch 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 wreck late in the race to win the $1 million grand prize.
Daytona 500 Car – Chassis No. 1017:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 1017 in the 59th Daytona 500. Built new for 2017, Chassis No. 1017 will see its first laps of competition in the Daytona 500.

 

Daytona International Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 28 wins, 21 poles, 125 top-five finishes and 243 top-10s in 576 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts. His most recent Cup Series 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. Busch has won at least one race in 13 of his 16 full-time seasons in Cup Series competition.
  • The 59th running of the Daytona 500 will mark Busch’s 32nd career Cup Series start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Busch has 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 290 laps, has an average starting position of 20.5, an average finish of 17th, and has completed 94.8 percent (5,138 of 5,420) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Busch has three runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 but is still seeking his first Harley J. Earl Trophy. 

2003 – Second to Michael Waltrip when the race ended under caution due to rain.

2005 – Second to Jeff Gordon by 0.158 of a second.

2008 – Pushed Team Penske teammate Ryan Newman to the win in the 50th Daytona 500.

  • Daytona is one of 10 racetracks on the 23 on the Cup Series circuit where Busch has never captured a pole. In 31 races at the 2.5- mile superspeedway, Busch’s best starting position is third, where he took the green flag for the 2011 Daytona 500.
  • One Trophy Missing from the Shelf – Busch’s 28 Cup Series victories have come on 14 different racetracks. From a road course to short tracks, from high-banked ovals to flat tracks, Busch has won at every type of track on the circuit with the exception of one – a superspeedway. Busch did earn a 2012 NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Daytona.
  • Restrictor-plate Averages – In his 63 Cup Series starts at restrictor-plate racetracks – Daytona and Talladega – Busch has accumulated 19 top-five finishes and 33 top-10s. He has led 440 laps in those races and has completed 10,942 of 11,494 possible laps.
  • A Breakdown of Career Totals: Despite only driving Fords for a little over five of his 17 seasons in the Cup Series, Busch has experienced a decent percentage of his success while driving blue-oval-branded racecars.

14 – Number of wins while driving a Ford, accounting for half of his Cup Series wins.

43 Number of top-five finishes while driving a Ford, 34.4 percent of his career total.

79 Number of top-10 finishes while driving a Ford, 32.5 percent of his career total.

184 Number of Cup Series starts while driving a Ford, 31.9 percent of his career total.

3,477 Number of laps led for Busch while driving a Ford, 39.2 percent of his career total.

 

  • Welcome Aboard – Five new crew members join the Tony Gibson-led Haas Automation/Monster Energy crew 2017 season. Scott Barnette, J.D. Frey, Todd Hamm, Matthew Kennedy and Tony Raines join Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and the No. 41 team. Barnette will serve as the second gas man, Frey as a mechanic, Hamm as the engine tuner, Kennedy as the third engineer and Raines as the spotter.
  • SHR at Daytona – In 46 overall starts at Daytona, SHR-prepared racecars have earnedtwo poles (Tony Stewart in July 2009 and Danica Patrick in February 2013), two wins (Stewart in July 2009 and 2012) 10 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 262 laps, and have completed 92.1 percent of the laps contested (7,443 of 8,083).

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

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