The All-Star Race Could Be Checkers Or Wreckers For Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), knows a thing or two about winning non-points-paying races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Of the 15 drivers currently qualified for Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch is one of only seven who has scored victories in each of the three exhibition races on the schedule. Those would be the All-Star Race at Charlotte, and two events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway – the Can-Am Duels that set the starting field for the Daytona 500, and The Clash, which is the non-points race that kicks off the season there each year.

Both of Busch’s wins at Daytona came in 2011. His win in The Clash came after he swept past Ryan Newman off the final turn, thanks to drafting help from Jamie McMurray. In claiming the checkered flag, he became the 19th different winner of the event that began in 1979. Although it wasn’t a points-paying win, it was the first restrictor-plate victory of Busch’s career. Five days later, Busch again drove into victory lane, this time in the first Can-Am Duel. He started sixth and drafted with Regan Smith all afternoon en route to the win.

And, in a race where drama is always at a premium because its competitors have a million reasons to get to victory lane, Busch’s win in the 2010 All-Star Race was no exception. He started the $1 million-to-win race from the pole and brushed the wall early, but was able to get back to the front of the field after the final mandatory pit stop that set up a 10-lap shootout to the finish. He went on to avoid a late multicar accident en route to his first All-Star Race victory.

This weekend, the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion is ready to earn his second All-Star title.

Unlike any other event, the All-Star Race is about the fame, the glory, and a cool $1 million. And with no points on the line, Busch and his crew can do what it takes to earn the win.

This year’s All-Star format will include three 20-lap stages with the winner of each locking up a spot in the final segment, as long as he or she remains on the lead lap. The rest of the 10-competitor field in the final segment will be made up of the drivers with the best average finish in the first three segments, meaning some drivers will be eliminated from the race before the final stage. Cars will be lined up for the final stage by average finish during the first three stages – the driver with the best average finish will be positioned first, the driver with the worst average finish positioned 10th. Pit road will then open for an optional pit stop. The order off pit road sets the lineup for the final 10-lap segment.

Each team will be granted one set of softer tires to use at their discretion as part of their tire allocation for the race. The softer tires are designed to provide more grip and, thus, speed. There is a catch, though, as teams that choose to put on softer tires for the final stage must start behind those teams that choose regular tires.

It’s a simple format, really – checkers or wreckers. Bring back the trophy or bring back the steering wheel.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Talk about having a tire option for the All-Star Race this weekend at Charlotte.

“We’ll have a set in practice, and that will allow the team to adjust to the car according to that set, or find out that it’s not that much of an advantage. That’s something we’ll have to find out through practice. But that makes it that much more fun, going into a race where there’s a million bucks on the line, no points and the format is very crisp and clean this year. If these tires, if they’re soft and they go, I’ll run them all 70 laps.”

Talk about racing in the All-Star Race.

“There’s always something exciting about racing for $1 million. There’s a unique element about having that kind of money on the line in one night. It’s the prestige, it’s the intensity of it. I like coming onto pit road with no speed limit. I like that the pit crew is part of qualifying. The format itself is unique. It’s a fun environment for a novice fan to enjoy his or her first taste of NASCAR. It’s an even better environment for a longtime fan to see his or her favorite driver laying it all on the line for $1 million with no points at stake.”

What does it mean to you to be in the All-Star Race?

“It’s a who’s who of the Cup Series. It’s a big honor to be included in that race. Those are the winners, the top percent of our sport. To win that race in 2010 was a special moment. To beat the best of the best, and then to receive a check for $1 million, that’s a great feeling.”

Talk about winning the event in 2010. What do you remember about that race? And what would it mean to you to win another one?

“The weekend was perfect. The car unloaded fast. We had an excellent pit stop during our run. We won the pole and it seemed like, in the race, we were the ones dictating what everyone else had to do because of the pace we set. That all starts with the trends that you’ve learned in the beginning of the season. That’s what is different about the All-Star Race and The Clash in Daytona. At Daytona, you’re coming off the offseason, there’s the buildup and excitement for another season and seeing what you’ve got. The All-Star Race is taking what you’ve learned in the first part of the year, applying that and trying to cash in on a big payday.”

Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Non-Points Event – Monster Energy All-Star Race – Charlotte

Car No.: 41 – 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: 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. 933:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 933 in Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Built new for 2015, Chassis No. 933 debuted at Charlotte in May, when Busch finished 10th. It was next raced at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where Busch again finished 10th. Chassis No. 933 was utilized again at Charlotte in October, when Busch recorded a fifth-place finish. Chassis No. 933 made its first start of the 2016 season at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in April, when Busch scored a third-place finish. It next raced at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in May, where Busch finished fifth after a tough day of obstacles. It saw its last laps of the 2016 season at Bristol in August, when Busch had overtaken Joey Logano for the lead before getting loose and setting off an 11-car incident that would see Busch’s historic streak of lead-lap finishes end at 22 races. Since then, the car received chassis and body updates and saw its first laps of the 2017 season at Bristol in March, when Busch was involved in an early incident but was able to soldier to a 25th-place finish.
Monster Energy All-Star Race Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has totals of one win, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 15 career Monster Energy All-Star Race starts.
  • After Busch’s 2010 All-Star Race win, he went on to dominate the Coca-Cola 600 the following week by leading 252 of the 400 laps en route to winning NASCAR’s longest event. Busch is the most recent of seven drivers to complete the All-Star/Coca-Cola 600 sweep. The other drivers to accomplish the feat are: Kasey Kahne in 2008, Jimmie Johnson in 2003, Jeff Gordon in 1997, Dale Earnhardt in 1993, Davey Allison in 1991 and Darrell Waltrip in 1985.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the All-Star Race – In 22 previous All-Star Races, SHR has posted one win (Tony Stewart, 2009), seven top-five finishes, nine top-10s and have been atop the leaderboard for 52 laps.
  • Exhibition Wins Not Limited to the All-Star – Busch’s success in NASCAR exhibition races extends beyond the All-Star Race. Busch won both The Clash and the first Can-Am Duel at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in 2011.Busch led three laps and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line by .058 of a second to win The Clash. That same year, he went on to lead seven laps and beat Regan Smith to win the first Can-Am Duel 150 by .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.
  • How You Get In – The Monster Energy All-Star Race is comprised of NASCAR Cup Series race winners from 2016 and 2017, previous NASCAR All-Star Race winners and former NASCAR Cup Series champions. Drivers who win stages in the Monster Energy Open qualifying race Saturday also transfer into the All-Star Race, along with the driver who wins the All-Star Fan Vote.
  • How it Works – The Monster Energy All-Star Race consists of four stages. The first three stages feature 20-lap sprints. The winners of the first three stages will lock up a spot in the final segment as long as they remain on the lead lap. The rest of the 10-driver field will be determined by the drivers with the best average finish in the first three segments, meaning that some drivers will be eliminated from the race before the final stage. Cars will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages, with the best average finishing driver starting first and the worst average finishing driver positioned 10th. Pit road will then open for an optional pit stop. The order off pit road sets the lineup for the final 10-lap segment.
  • The No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:

Ø  Carter’s Machining Co., Inc. Located at 540 Lake Lynn Road in Concord, North Carolina, Carter’s Machine Company has been locally owned and operated and has served the greater Charlotte region and surrounding areas since 1985. The company specializes in CNC turning, CNC machining, roll work, fabricating and repairs.

Ø  Logic Manufacturing, Inc. Located at 4009 Fawn Brooke Drive in Indian Trail, North Carolina, Logic Manufacturing, Inc. is an innovative machining facility. It is dedicated to servicing the needs of its customers for high-technology precision parts and assemblies.

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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