Can Kurt Make It Two Restrictor Plate Wins In A Row?

Kurt Busch

For years, when Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Kurt Busch would head to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway or Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, he’d wonder if the race at hand would be the one – the one in which he’d finally be able to pull into victory lane and complete the checklist of having won at every type of track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit.

From the shortest racetrack – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – to a road-course victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, the driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion had won at almost every type of track. He’d won on racetracks ranging in length from .526 of a mile, .533 of a mile, .75 of a mile, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, 1.99 miles and 2 miles. He’d celebrated in victory lane at the high-banked ovals and flat tracks. He’s even had a seat at the head table at the year-end banquet.

But one trophy eluded Busch. He’d won 28 NASCAR Cup Series races, but never a points-paying one at either of the two restrictor-plate tracks – Daytona or Talladega. That all changed in February. After 17 years of trying, Busch was finally able to check that box. And he did it in a big way, by winning for the 29th time in his career, at the 2017 season-opening Daytona 500.

The win was significant on many levels. Not only was it his first win in what is arguably NASCAR’s most renowned race, it was SHR’s, as well. It was Busch’s first race behind the wheel of a Ford, the manufacturer with whom he won the 2004 Cup Series championship, since November 2005. It was the first outing for SHR with the Dearborn, Michigan-headquartered manufacturer. And, for Daytona Beach native Tony Gibson, it was his first trip to victory lane at the famed speedway as a crew chief.

So, while Busch is now one of just a handful of drivers who own victories at each type of racetrack, his focus can shift to winning at each active racetrack on the NASCAR Cup circuit. He’s found his way to victory lane at 15 of 23 active racetracks on the circuit and can now shift his focus to checking those boxes. He’ll head to Talladega this weekend looking to return to his winning ways by putting a check in the win column there.

In his first start at Talladega in April 2001, Busch recorded a third-place finish, which happens to be his best at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. He’s finished third there three times since – in April 2002 and 2007, and October 2006. But this time Busch has the confidence he can improve on those results despite not having the same race-winning Ford Fusion he had at Daytona in February. The Daytona 500-winning racecar traditionally goes on display for a year at the Daytona 500 Experience Museum.

This weekend, Busch would like nothing more than to add another win to his already impressive resume. Not only would a victory cross Talladega off his win list, it would also give Busch and his No. 41 team a second victory in 2017 and another five valuable bonus points for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. With his postseason eligibility already in place, they can head to Talladega and welcome the opportunity to race aggressively for the win.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Talk a little bit about racing at Talladega.

“It’s so difficult to predict Talladega. You can ride around in the back, or charge up front all day and, either way, your day can end with your car on the hook. You just hope to have Lady Luck guide you to a good finish. Restrictor-plate races have turned into this pattern that it is hard to have any type of advantage over any other team. It just comes down to being in the right place at the right time.”

Restrictor-plate racing has been described as a 200 mph chess match. How would you describe it?

“That’s pretty much it. You’ve got to be able to know the draft, understand the draft, use the draft, block other guys, find holes, make holes. It’s definitely a chess game because you’re always thinking three or four steps ahead. It’s tough to get caught up when you make a mistake. You’ve got to quickly get rid of that and put together a new plan. At the end of the race, everybody is saving their best for the end. Cars are just going everywhere. The plan you thought you had, you’ve got to make a new one. You’ve got to go on the fly.”

In order to be successful in a restrictor-plate race, you need some assistance from other drivers. How do you get that assistance when every driver out there is trying to beat one another?

“Cash? I don’t know. There are certain guys you know to draft with. There are certain guys you know they’re going to be tough. There are certain guys you might see work their way up, like the Fords always come in strong with Front Row Motorsports. The Roush cars are always there. The Penske cars have been tough the last five, six years at the restrictor-plate races. So, you just get a gauge as the race goes on who’s been up front all day. But you’ve got to keep track of the guys who have been hanging out in the back and they’re going to show up at the end.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 10 of 36 – GEICO 500 – Talladega

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


At-Track PR Contact: Rory Connellan, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 811,

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: Matt Schlytter

Hometown: Ponte Vedra, Florida

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. 965:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 965 in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 965 debuted in The Clash last February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, 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 the win but was spun on the final turn of the final lap and relegated to a 23rd-place finish. It then raced at Talladega in October, when Busch finished fourth. The car received chassis updates and the body was updated for 2017. It most recently was utilized in The Clash at Daytona in February, when Busch was involved in an early accident and finished 17th. It has been outfitted with a new body in preparation for this weekend’s 500-mile race.
Talladega Superspeedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 247 top-10s in 585 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sGeico 500at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500.
  • Sunday’s GEICO 500 will mark Busch’s 33rd career NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega.Busch has seven top-five finishes and 17 top-10s at the 2.66-mile oval.Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 150 laps, has an average starting position of 20.2, an average finish of 15.9, and has completed 95.6 percent (5,804 of 6,074) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Busch’s best finish at Talladega is third, where he has finished four times (April 2001, 2002, 2007 and October 2006).
  • The Las Vegas native has 21 career NASCAR Cup Series poles. Busch has never won a pole at Talladega. His best start there is third, where he started in October 2010.
  • In two starts in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Talladega, Busch has one top-five finish and two top-10s.​
  • Most Recent Restrictor Plate Winner – Busch won the season-opening Daytona 500 to earn his first-ever win on a restrictor-plate racetrack.  From a road course to short tracks, from high-banked ovals to flat tracks, Busch has now won at every type of track on the circuit.
  • Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, one top-five finish and four top-10s in nine starts.
  • Get to the Points – With his eighth-place finish Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Busch enters Talladega 17th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 206 points behind series leader Kyle Larson.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Talladega – In 46 overall starts at Talladega, SHR has earned two top-five finishes and 13 top-10s, has been atop the leaderboard for 137 laps, and has completed 96.5 percent of the laps contested (8,470 of 8,776).
  • SHR in 2017 – Nine races into the 2017 season, SHR Ford Fusions have recorded one pole, one win, six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. They have completed 11,401 of 12,168 laps contested and have collectively led 446 laps.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:

Ø  Ace Tool & Manufacturing Company. Located at 6111 Highway 1 South in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Ace Tool & Manufacturing Company is a general-job shop. Founded in 1976, it specializes in machine turning, milling and tool repair.

Ø  Strategix Medical Solutions. Located at 25127 Will McComb Drive in Tanner, Alabama, Strategix Medical Solutions manufactures world-class, custom-made precision medical devices through its experienced engineers, CNC machinists and dedicated quality control personnel who scrutinize each manufacturing step using the best technology available.

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.

Ø  Haas Automation’s Demo Day 2017. Planned for May 10, the annual event provides Haas Factory Outlets an opportunity to feature the latest CNC machines, innovations, and technology from Haas Automation. The outlets will showcase machine-cutting demonstrations, as well as educational seminars to explain how the latest Haas machines and options can make companies more efficient and profitable. Current Haas users, potential customers, and anyone in the manufacturing industry is invited to attend and learn how the latest Haas machines can help a business be more productive, efficient, and profitable. For more information, please contact a local Haas Factory Outlet.


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