Kurt Busch: Moments In Time

Kurt Busch

It’s among the most unique and coveted trophies in NASCAR – the Ridgeway Furniture Company’s grandfather clock that’s given to the winner at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in victory lane.

The tradition of giving the famous grandfather clock to the winner of every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville got its start in 1964. Henry Clay Earles, who founded the .526-mile paperclip-shaped track, was inspired to use the grandfather clock as his trophy when Curtis Turner told him he had to start finding storage room for his trophies, and give some away, as well. It was then that NASCAR’s most iconic trophy was born.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), won his first race at Martinsville in October 2002. It was his second NASCAR Cup Series 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. For Busch, the fact he had won the race really didn’t set in until he stood beside the grandfather clock in victory lane.

Winning the clock that weekend had a profound meaning. Earlier that week, Busch received news that his grandfather had passed away. He headed to Martinsville with the goal of trying to make the weekend as normal as he could, focusing on his racecar while dealing with the emotions of the family’s loss. As the race progressed, Busch was able to take advantage of a strong racecar and worked his way to the front of the field, leading 111 laps en route to the win.

When he climbed from his racecar, he saw the clock and the significance of it hit him then and there – in the week he’d lost his grandfather, he won a prestigious grandfather clock. When it was delivered to his home the following week, he placed it in his living room and immediately named it Al, as a tribute to his late grandfather Al Keller.

Fast-forward to March 2014, when the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to end an 83-race winless streak by claiming his second grandfather clock. The win was special for Busch, but was even more so for Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, who co-owns SHR with three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. When Haas hired Busch, his directive was clear: win. Be the guy to finally place the Haas Automation-sponsored racecar in victory lane. Victory had eluded the largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western World for 114 races and 11 different drivers since 2002.

When Haas’s grandfather clock was delivered, like Busch’s, it was placed in the living room of his home. It remains a welcome reminder of the significance of the day that he finally saw his car roll into victory lane.

While Busch opened 2017 by winning the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, he and his No. 41 team have struggled. They’ve been challenged by mechanical and handling issues that see them headed to Martinsville ranked 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. They are looking to return to form in the first short-track race of the year, knowing it’s time to right the ship and return to their winning ways.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

What is the toughest part about racing at Martinsville?

“To me, the toughest part of Martinsville is you just never have a moment to breathe. You have to be on your game nonstop for 500 laps because somebody’s on you, or you are on top of somebody the whole time, and there’s just no room for error.”

How much does pit strategy become a factor at Martinsville?

“It’s definitely something that comes into play. You may gamble early to pick up some positions on the track, especially if you’ve had trouble in qualifying. It’s just one of those things, though, where you always hope you’re on the right one (strategy) and, if you get caught on the wrong one, then you’re kicking yourself the whole time.”

How much more important is track position at a place like Martinsville?

“Track position is everything, everywhere, but at Martinsville it is just so easy to lose it. It doesn’t take much to find yourself going backward, whether it’s a situation with someone bumping you out of the way or you get too high on the track and up in the marbles. Then, deal with what that does to the tires and, boom, next thing you know, you may have had a 10th-place car and now you are 18th. It’s a goal all day to work your way forward and then just to have smooth pit stops to carry you through those midpoints of the race. Then, at the end, when everything is on the line, you have to be aggressive and you can’t be afraid to use the fenders on people to get that solid finish.”

Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 6 of 36 – Martinsville 500 – Martinsville

Car No.: 41 – Monster Energy/Haas Automation 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. 865:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 865 in Sunday’s Martinsville 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 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 at Martinsville in October, where Patrick started 30th and finished 34th after being involved in an accident late in the race. Chassis No. 865 was utilized in both 2015 races at Martinsville, 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 again was utilized in both races at Martinsville in 2016. Busch finished 13th in March and struggled with ill handling and finished 22nd in its most recent start there last October.​
Martinsville Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 245 top-10s in 581 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sMartinsville 500at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500
  • Sunday’s Martinsville 500 will mark Busch’s 34th career NASCAR Cup Series 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 19.8, an average finish of 21.2, and has completed 97.3 percent (16,083 of 16,534) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • The Las Vegas native has one pole to his credit (October 2006) at Martinsville. Busch has 21 career NASCAR Cup Series poles.
  • Twice a Winner at MartinsvilleBusch won his first race at Martinsville in October 2002. It was his second NASCAR Cup Series 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 Cup Series champion and nine-time Martinsville race-winner Jimmie Johnson to win the Martinsville 500.
  • A Place of Firsts – Busch’s March 2014 win at Martinsville was the first for Haas Automation as a primary sponsor in the NASCAR 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.
  • Busch has led laps in 11 of his 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville for a combined total of 464 laps led.
  • Busch has made one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Martinsville.He started 22nd and finished 23rd in 2000.
  • Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, one top-five finish and two top-10s in five starts.
  • Get to the Points – With his 24th-place finish Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Busch enters Martinsville 14th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 125 points behind series leader Kyle Larson.
  • SHR at Martinsville – In 46 previous NASCAR Cup Series 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 97.8 percent of the laps contested (22,540 of 23,048).
  • SHR in 2017 – Five races into the 2017 season, SHR Ford Fusions have recorded one pole, one win, two top-five finishes and six top-10s. They have completed 4,858 of 5,232 laps contested and have collectively led 344 laps.
  • The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:
  • Ø Milhous Company. Located at 144 South Main Street in Amherst, Virginia, Millhous   Company provides electromagnetic fluid filtration systems, resistive and superconducting electromagnets and coils for commercial entities and national laboratories.
  • Ø  American Ceramic Technology, Inc. Located at 201 Searcy Road in Central, South Carolina, American Ceramic Technology is the manufacturer of Silflex shielding, the industry’s leading and award winning lead-free, non-toxic radiation-shielding material. American Ceramic Technology is dedicated to assisting the nuclear industry in reducing dose rates and creating cutting-edge products.
  • Ø  Haas Factory Outlet – Phillips, a division of Phillips Corp, an exclusive dealer for Haas Automation CNC machine tools. With its main office at 8500 Triad Drive in Colfax, North Carolina, HFO Greensboro has Haas Factory Outlets in North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama – including locations at the Spartanburg Community College Haas Technical Education Center in South Carolina, and the Barber Motorsports Museum near Birmingham, Alabama. Each location offers Haas sales, service, training, applications support, and spare parts.

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

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