Kurt Busch Puts Las Vegas In The Rear View Mirror

Kurt Busch

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Growing up in Las Vegas, Kurt Busch spent the early years of his career competing at tracks along the West Coast.

And when he wasn’t behind the wheel of his race car, the driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) traveled to area tracks to take in races as a spectator. Throughout the 1990s, Busch regularly made the trek to Phoenix International Raceway just to have the chance to watch NASCAR superstars like Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison compete.

Getting the opportunity to race at the mile oval in the desert west of Phoenix – the same track where he had cheered for many of his racing heroes – was a dream come true for Busch. Racing at the track was like a home game for Busch, who also attended college for several semesters at the University of Arizona down the road in Tucson before making it in NASCAR’s big leagues.

While he was coming up through the ranks, Busch made a number of race starts at Phoenix, competing in series such as NASCAR’s Southwest Series tour. Then, in 2000, Busch took to the track for the first time as a competitor in NASCAR’s top touring series, competing in both the Camping World Truck Series race in March, in which he finished fourth, and then in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in November later that same season, when he finished 29th.

Since his first NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix, it has been a track where Busch has performed consistently. He only has one win in Cup Series competition at Phoenix, but he also owns seven top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in his 28 starts there. He has an average finish of 13.1, which is the third-highest finishing average for Busch at any active track on the Cup Series schedule.

While competing and winning at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway is considered the ultimate accomplishment for NASCAR drivers, the mile oval in the Arizona desert outside Phoenix is often thought of just as highly by young racers growing up out West. While Busch is certainly proud of what he’s been able to accomplish at Phoenix, he’d like nothing more than to score another win there not only for the personal pride, but also to better his position for NASCAR’s playoff. Drivers earn five playoff points for every regular-season race win, which they will carry through the 10-race run for the championship.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Talk a little bit about heading to Phoenix this weekend.

“Phoenix has done a great job over the years of continuing to upgrade the facility and the racing there, I think, is great on that flat 1-mile track. With (baseball) Spring Training in town during our race, I hope to match up and go out to Mesa, Arizona, where the Cubs play. They’re World Champions. I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole life and it would be great to go and shake their hands and congratulate them on a job well done. We’ll see if that matches up, but as far as the Phoenix race and the atmosphere there and the changes that they’re making, they’re going all in. It gives you this impression that (Bryan) Sperber, the track president, is doing what he needs to do to position himself to be our year-end finale and to see his track host the final Cup points race.”

What do you feel you need to work on at Phoenix to continue the success you’ve had there?

“It seems like, each time we go back to Phoenix, the asphalt is getting a little bit older. It’s starting to get a little bit slicker, yet it still seems like you can stay out forever on tires. You are out there a long time on tires and the air pressures build up. We are going to work this time around on keeping the air pressure down and trying to make our long-run speed better.”

What makes Phoenix such a unique racetrack?

“It’s got a great atmosphere there with turns one and two being much tighter than turns three and four. They reconfigured the dogleg on the back straightaway, which is a huge corner now. It opens up the ability to go way below the yellow line. Sometimes you see cars five-wide on the back straightaway. That is definitely a wild card in the mix there.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 4 of 36 – Camping World 500k – Phoenix

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
Chassis No. 977:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 977 in Sunday’s Camping World 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 977 saw its first laps of competition in March at Phoenix, where Busch finished sixth. Chassis No. 977 was then raced at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in April, where Busch contended for the win but finished 10th after a lengthy, late-race pit stop. Chassis No. 977 next raced at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June, where Busch overcame team and fuel challenges to earn his 28th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Chassis No. 977 raced again at Pocono in August, when Busch finished 10th in the rain-delayed, rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400. Chassis No. 977 was then utilized at Richmond in September, when Busch finished eighth in the final event of the 2016 regular season. Chassis No. 977 was most recently raced at Phoenix in November, when the hard work of the driver and team saw them rewarded with a fifth-place finish. Since then, Chassis No. 977 was outfitted with a new front clip and body in preparation for Sunday’s 500-kilometer race.
Phoenix International Raceway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 245 top-10s in 579 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sCamping World 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came last month at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500.
  • Sunday’s Camping World 500k will mark Busch’s 29th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix. Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and 17 top-10s at the mile oval. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 750 laps, has an average starting position of 12.1, an average finish of 13.1, and has completed 99.6 percent (8,698 of 8,737) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Previous Win – Busch has one career NASCAR Cup Series win at Phoenix, which came in April 2005. It was his first victory that season, when the Phoenix event was run in the spring for the first time, and the 12th of Busch’s career.
  • Leading the Way at Phoenix – Busch’s 750 laps led at Phoenix are the third-most that the Las Vegas native has led at any track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. The only tracks where he’s led more are Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (1,062) and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (806).
  • Busch has made one NASCAR Xfinity Series start and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Phoenix. He finished fourth in both.
  • The Las Vegas native has 21 career Cup Series poles. Busch has never won a pole at Phoenix. His best start there is second, where he has started three times.
  • A Place of Firsts – Crew chief Tony Gibson’s first win at the helm of a NASCAR Cup Series team came at Phoenix on April 10, 2010. He was calling the shots for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and the win was also the first for SHR at the desert oval.
  • Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, one top-five finish and two top-10s in three starts.
  • Get to the Points – With his 30th-place finish Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch enters Phoenix seventh in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 39 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski.
  • SHR at Phoenix – In 46 overall starts at Phoenix, SHR-prepared racecars have earnedone pole, five wins, 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 1,308 laps, and have completed 97.2 percent of the laps contested (13,797 of 14,190).
  • SHR in 2017 – Three races into the 2017 season, SHR Ford Fusions have recorded one pole, one win, one top-five finish and four top-10s. They have completed 2,797 of 3,168 laps contested and have collectively led 343 laps.


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