Kurt Busch Approaches Dover With Two Thoughts…

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will approach this weekend’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism with two agendas. While his immediate focus will be on the task at hand, getting as good a finish as possible, he’ll also approach the race as a test session for when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to the concrete mile oval in October.

The June race at Dover is the 13th event of 26 that make up the regular season of NASCAR’s 2017 schedule. While this race pays the same amount of points as the rest of those races, it carries with it some additional importance for Busch. Having already won a race this year, the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Busch knows that his presence in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is all but guaranteed.

That’s why Busch will approach the weekend thinking about October and Dover’s significance in the 10-race playoff. As the third race in the opening round, Dover serves as the first elimination event. If Busch has solid outings in the first two playoff races at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, he can head to Dover with a little less pressure. Should he need a solid finish when he comes back to Dover, a racetrack that has given him struggles over the years, he’ll hope that some of the notebook he and his Tony Gibson-led team build this weekend can give them what they need to find success.

Dover is a high-banked, concrete, mile oval with a penchant for chewing up racecars and veteran drivers alike. It can be one of the more taxing racetracks on drivers and equipment with its abrasive surface and high banking. The “Monster Mile,” as it is affectionately known, is an appropriate nickname considering the speeds carried through its high banks and short straightaways that allow little to no room for error.

Busch has conquered Dover just once in his career, in October 2011. He pulled away from Jimmie Johnson on a pair of late-race restarts to earn his 24th NASCAR Cup Series victory. Otherwise, it’s been a struggle. He’s earned just one top-five finish since then – in this race last year when he was able to overcome a tough day of obstacles to record his seventh top-five at the concrete oval.

Busch also owns nine top-10 finishes in 33 starts. While he’ll look to earn both his second career Dover victory and second of 2017 Sunday, it would not be a disappointment to simply survive at one of the most difficult racetracks on the circuit and get a strong baseline for October. But he knows that scoring the win would also give him and his No. 41 team 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 is it about Dover that makes it such a challenging racetrack, and what do you have to do be successful there?

“The tough thing about Dover is things happen so quickly. At any moment at any time, somebody can spin in front of you or you can lose control off the corners and you are going to wreck. There is no real forgiveness about Dover. That is what makes it tough. To be good there, you have to be good on corner exit. The track really rubbers in so you can see the concrete change to black as the weekend progresses. On corner exit, you get really tight or really loose. The time I won there, I could almost hold it wide open on corner exit. That is what you’ve got to have.”

Do you feel it has earned its nickname?

“It’s called the Monster Mile for a reason – the track can chew up cars and spit them out. It’s because of those tough transitions into the corners with the high banking and even the high-banked straightaways. It’s tough to do that sharp of a turn on a mile racetrack. It’s like you literally jump down into the corner and then jump back up out of the corner onto the straightaway, and so those points of the track are the toughest part – the transition from straightaway to corner. It’s a fun track to drive.”

How physically demanding of a racetrack is Dover?

“You’re just on edge there and, the speed that you have to carry on corner exit, you’re right there at the wall every corner exit and you do it 800 times with 400 laps and two corner exits. That makes it tough. This race will wear you out, for sure, and you have to pace yourself.”

What’s it like heading off into turn one at Dover? Do you focus more on corner entry to exit there?

“The drop into turn one is definitely tough. It’s one of the biggest ones we encounter on the circuit. You have to have the car nice and soft when it lands, but then the suspension has to be rigid enough to not allow the car to hit too hard. It’s a nice balance that you have to find at Dover to be successful. Most importantly, though, it is getting that corner exit when the track rubbers in because you can’t get on the tight side.”

Things seem to happen very fast at Dover. Do you approach it like a short track or more like a superspeedway?

“It is more like a mile-and-a-half track. It’s an intermediate-style track even though the lap times are quick and things happen very quickly like they do at short tracks. It has a mile-and-a-half tendency where you get in that rhythm and then you have the aero that you are battling there, as well.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 13 of 36 – AAA 400 Race for Autism – Dover

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. 951:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 951 in Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Built new for 2015, Chassis No. 951 debuted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July, when Busch was able to overcome a flat tire to come home with a hard-fought eighth-place finish. It then saw action at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, where Busch overcame a flat tire on lap 86 and a green-flag pit stop that put him a lap down to finish third. Chassis No. 951 made its final start of the 2015 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, when Busch scraped the wall but fought back to bring home an eighth-place finish. Chassis No. 951 spent much of the 2016 season as a backup racecar but was called into service at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City after an accident coming off turn four on his last lap of final practice forced the No. 41 team to unload the chassis and start the race from the rear of the field. Busch overcame persistent handling issues to finish 13th. Since then, the car has received chassis updates and the body has been updated in preparation for its first start of the 2017 season.
Dover International Speedway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 249 top-10s in 588 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sAAA 400 Drive for Autismat Dover (Del.) International Speedway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500.
  • Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism will mark Busch’s 34th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover. Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s at the concrete mile oval. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 426 laps, has an average starting position of 11.7, an average finish of 18.1, and has completed 94.4 percent (12,471 of 13,209) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • Previous Winner – Busch started second and led 90 of 400 laps at Dover en route to recording his 24th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory on Oct. 2, 2011.Busch grabbed the lead from Jimmie Johnson on the final restart and paced the final 42 circuits to win by .908 of a second over Johnson.
  • The Las Vegas native has 21 career NASCAR Cup Series poles. Busch has never won a pole at Dover. His best qualifying effort is second, where he has started twice – June 2008 and October 2011.
  • Busch won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Dover in September 2000. He started from the pole and led nine laps en route to the win in his only Truck Series start at Dover.
  • Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, one top-five finish and six top-10s in 12 starts.
  • Get to the Points – With his sixth-place finish at Sunday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch enters Dover 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 290 points behind series leader Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Dover – In 46 overall starts at Dover, SHR has earnedtwo poles, two wins, five top-five finishes and 12 top-10s, has been atop the leaderboard for 854 laps, and has completed 98.1 percent of the laps contested (18,071 of 18,420).
  • SHR in 2017 – 12 races into the 2017 season, SHR Ford Fusions have recorded three poles, one win, seven top-five finishes and 18 top-10s. They have completed 14,738 of 15,600 laps contested and have collectively led 533 laps.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:

Ø  IAG Performance. Established in 2004, Integrity Auto Group (IAG) initially sold high-quality used performance cars. Within a year and a half, IAG more than over 200 Subaru vehicles. Clients began requesting IAG to provide performance products and services for their Subarus, and those needs were quickly catered to. IAG extended its services and parts nationally in 2007. Fast forward to 2017 – IAG is known as a leader in the automotive performance industry and carries an impeccable reputation among clients and peers.

 

Ø  Tag Engineering Inc. Located at6707 Whitestone Rd. Baltimore, Maryland, TAG manufactures and machines complex and basic chassis, enclosures, and complete assemblies for the defense, aerospace and medical sectors. Featuring Haas CNC machining centers and vacuum brazing facilities, its assembly and wiring area enables TAG to manufacture piece parts and complete systems from one piece to 10,000. The TAG teams of highly skilled personnel is able to work from drawings and or electronic data. TAG encourages present and potential customers to experience its organization at work, its clean and pleasant working conditions, manufacturing controls and extensive quality control procedures, from the testing and coding of raw material to the care and packaging of the finished product.

 

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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