Kurt Busch Debuts SHR’S Very First In House Built Cup Car

Kurt Busch & Kasey Kahne

When Kurt Busch, driver of the Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), takes to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the site of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, he will do so in the very first, all in-house-built No. 41 Ford Fusion.

For Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine-tool builder in North America, the term “very first” has significance. It goes back to the first machine manufactured by Haas Automation, the VF-1, in 1988. The “V” stands for vertical, which is an industry standard designation for a vertical mill. Haas added “F1” to the name to unofficially designate it as the company’s “Very First One.”

The tradition continued when Haas was granted a Formula One license by the FIA. When Haas F1 Team unveiled its “Very First Racecar” at preseason testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, it was billed as the “VF-16” to mark both the milestone and the season it debuted.

So this weekend, Busch will attempt to duplicate the success Haas’ other very first ones have had. And he’ll do so in one of the most demanding races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Aside from the distinction of being the longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600 is also one of the most prestigious events on the circuit due in no small part to its durability implications – it’s a race that tests man and machine.

Endurance is a concept with which competitors in the NASCAR Cup Series are well acquainted. Every race run tests the endurance of its drivers, whether they’re racing 300, 400 or 500 miles. That weekly test gets a little more aggressive as the series prepares for its marathon 600-mile race.

Busch is among the drivers who have met the challenges that come with competing in the 600, winning the 2010 version of the annual Memorial Day-weekend event. After just missing out on the pole that year, Busch started second and wasted no time jumping to the lead. He took over the top spot on lap 12 and led the next 40 laps before surrendering the lead briefly for a round of green-flag pit stops. Busch owned the lead 12 different times for a race-high 252 laps, including the final 19. With the win, he became the seventh driver in series history to follow a victory in the NASCAR All-Star Race with a win in the 600 a week later.

So, while another triumph Sunday would put Busch in elite company with drivers Richard Petty, Fred Lorenzen, Neil Bonnett, Jim Paschal, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick as a two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner, it would also do much more than that for his 2017 championship hopes, as it would give Busch and his No. 41 team a second victory in 2017 and another five valuable bonus points for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What are your thoughts about the Coke 600 this weekend?

“This weekend’s race is a big one and, being that it’s here in our backyard, it’s almost like a hometown race for everybody. All of the guys who work at the shop and don’t get to go to the track on a weekly basis usually get to come out and see all of their hard work on display. You want to really put the banner up for your team.”

What do you do to get ready for what is the longest race of the year?

“It’s just a marathon mentality. It’s the exact opposite of the All-Star Race. The race starts during the daytime and, even if you’re getting behind early in the race – although you can’t get too far behind – it’s difficult to find a setup that works well at both the beginning and end of the race because of how much the track changes from start to finish. It’s the end of the race, though, when they hand out the points and the check, so you hope your car will race the same way at the end as it did for the All-Star Race, provided you had a good All-Star Race. The mentality is that it’s just pit stop after pit stop with long sequence after long sequence. The All-Star Race is a 100-yard dash. The 600 is a marathon.”

Talk about the 2010 Coca-Cola 600, when you had such a dominant car.

“Well, to start, we just missed out on the pole. That’s one thing that sticks in my mind. You know how racers are – we want to win them all. That race, we were so good in the daytime that I was scared of what was going to happen when the sun went down and the track started to change and how the race would play out. I mean, you never really have a good car at the beginning and have it stay underneath you for the nighttime. It’s just the way you’ve always seen that race play out. But that car was that good. It was what we saw with it in the All-Star Race the week before. It was fast during both of those weekends. So it’s amazing how you can stumble across little things that make all of the difference in the world. Again, I was leading the beginning of the race just pacing myself. The car was so good in the daytime and I literally thought we would end up a lap down at night because cars never stay the same as the race goes on. But it worked out and we got the win in the 600.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 12 of 36 – Coca-Cola 600 – Charlotte

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: 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. 003:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 003 in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Built new for 2017, Chassis No. 003 saw its first laps May 9 and 10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, when Busch and the No. 41 team participated in a Goodyear tire test. It will see its first laps of competition in Sunday’s 600-mile race.
Charlotte Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 248 top-10s in 587 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sCoca-Cola 600at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500.
  • Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 will mark Busch’s 34th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte. Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 623 laps, has an average starting position of 19.7, an average finish of 17.9 and has completed 91.8 percent (10,818 of 11,788) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Previous Winner – Busch started second and led 252 of 400 laps at Charlotte en route to recording his 22nd NASCAR Cup Series victory on May 30, 2010.Busch held off a hard-charging Jamie McMurray to score his only points-paying victory at Charlotte. He won the NASCAR All-Star Race the week before, becoming just the seventh driver to win both races in the same year.
  • The Las Vegas native has 21 career NASCAR Cup Series poles. Busch has never won a pole at Charlotte. His best start there is second, where he has started three times (October 2005, and May 2010 and 2013).
  • In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte, Busch has a best finish of second in May 2006.
  • Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, one top-five finish and five top-10s in 11 starts.
  • Get to the Points – With his 19th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City two weeks ago, Busch enters Charlotte 15th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 229 points behind series leader Kyle Larson.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Charlotte – In 46 overall starts at Charlotte, SHR has earned four poles, one win, six top-five finishes and 17 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 548 laps, and have completed 95 percent of the laps contested (15,708 of 16,540).
  • SHR in 2017 – 11 races into the 2017 season, SHR Ford Fusions have recorded two poles, one win, seven top-five finishes and 16 top-10s. They have completed 13,142 of 14,000 laps contested and have collectively led 487 laps.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:

Ø  Edgewater Automation, LLC.Founded in 2001, Edgewater Automation designs and builds custom automation equipment for a wide variety of industries. Edgewater Automation has five different locations throughout North America in Michigan, South Carolina and California. Featured three times on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America, Edgewater Automation is constantly improving and growing in talent, experience, and technology.

Ø  Machine Shop Services. Founded in in 1978 with one customer, two manual machines and 300 square feet of shop space, MSS Inc. has grown to 24 CNC machining centers, 22,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 6,000 square feet of fabrication space, 50 employees working three shifts, and hundreds of customers in widely diverse industries.

Ø  Haas Factory Outlet Greensboro, a division of Phillips Corp., 8500 Triad Drive, Colfax, NC 27235, is an exclusive dealer of Haas Automation CNC machine tools, serving Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Eastern Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Southern New Jersey and Tennessee. Phillips offers outstanding Haas sales, service, training, applications support, and spare parts. Phillips also supports manufacturing education through the Haas Technical Education Centers at the Spartanburg Community College, Lanier Technical College and Tennessee College Applied of Technology, among others.

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

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