Kurt Busch Is Heading To One Of His Strongest Race Tracks

Kurt Busch

If there are races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit that Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has high expectations for, the two trips to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway have to be at the top of the list. The 2.5-mile triangle has been home to a number of milestones for the Kannapolis, North Carolina-based team and, statistically, happens to be its strongest racetrack on the circuit.

Two of the SHR’s 37 NASCAR Cup Series wins have come there. The first came June 7, 2009, when team co-owner Tony Stewart scored the first points-paying Cup Series victory for SHR by winning the Pocono 500 by 2.004 seconds over second-place Carl Edwards. It marked the first time a driver-owner had won a points-paying Cup Series race since Ricky Rudd on Sept. 27, 1998 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

SHR also owns 17 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s in a combined 46 starts, both high-water marks for the championship-winning team co-owned by Stewart and Gene Haas, the founder of Haas Automation, the largest computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine-tool builder in North America.

The team’s most-recent win at Pocono came in this race last year, when Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion, was able to overcome team and fuel challenges to win the rain-delayed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400. The win was Busch’s 28th career Cup Series victory, his third at Pocono and his lone triumph of the 2016 season.

In addition to Busch’s three Pocono triumphs, he also has 13 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 31 starts there, which equal his career-high top-fives at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, and career-high top-10s at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Additionally, Busch’s solid performance statistics extend beyond tradition and into some pretty stout loop data numbers as he ranks in the top-five in a several categories, including average running position, average speed early in a run, average speed late in a run, fastest laps run, fastest laps on a restart, green-flag speed, laps in the top-15, laps led and more. Add it all up and it equates to the top driver rating at the “Tricky Triangle.”

A return to Pocono couldn’t come at a better time for Busch. Since scoring the win in the season-opening Daytona 500, Busch has struggled to find the consistency he’s become so accustomed to. A glance at the upcoming schedule gives him the optimism he’ll soon find a way to end his search. And it all starts this weekend at Pocono, where he’ll look to score his fourth victory at one of the most unique racetracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit and his second of the 2017 season.

 

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

What makes Pocono so unique?

“Just the fact that it’s different in the way that each of the straightaways has its different length, the corners have their banking. It’s not a typical oval in that you get to shift at an oval track. It blends a lot of road-racing techniques into an oval technique.”

 

What is the one thing you know you are going to have to work on when you return to Pocono?

“The one thing you know is shifting. You have to work on that. But, each time we go back, the setups change so rapidly that you have to find the right setup to gain the speed, whether it’s turn one, turn two or turn three. Each time there, you have to challenge the track and the car’s technology.”

 

Of the three turns, which is the most important to you, and why?

“It’s weird, I’ve had winning cars there a few different times and turn two always feels the best when my car has a chance to go to victory lane. But, I think turn three, if you are able to pass cars and maneuver around them, you’ve got to get a good run off turn three to be ready to pass them in turn one. All of them are important. You can’t exclude one from another.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 14 of 36 – Axalta presents the Pocono 400 – Pocono

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. 977:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 977 in Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 977 saw its first laps of competition in March at Phoenix, where Busch finished sixth. Chassis No. 977 was then raced at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in April, when Busch contended for the win but finished 10th after a lengthy, late-race pit stop. Chassis No. 977 next raced at Pocono in June, when Busch overcame team and fuel challenges to earn his 28th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Chassis No. 977 raced again at Pocono in August, when Busch finished 10th in the rain-delayed, rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400. Chassis No. 977 was then utilized at Richmond in September, when Busch finished eighth in the final event of the 2016 regular season. Chassis No. 977 next saw action at Phoenix International Raceway in November, when the hard work of the driver and team saw them rewarded with a fifth-place finish. Since then, Chassis No. 977 was outfitted with a new front clip and body in preparation for 2017 and its debut at Phoenix in March, when Busch was plagued with electrical issues and finished 25th.
Pocono Raceway Notes of Interest:
  • Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 249 top-10s in 589 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’sAxalta presents the Pocono 400at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500.
  • Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400 will mark Busch’s 32nd career NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono. Busch has two poles, three wins, 13 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s at the 2.5-mile triangle. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 538 laps, has an average starting position of 10.4, an average finish of 14.5, and has completed 95.7 percent (5,403 of 5,645) of the laps he’s contested there.
  • The Las Vegas native has two poles to his credit (June 2011 and 2015) at Pocono. Busch has 21 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series poles.
  • Three Times a Winner – Busch has raced his way to victory lane at Pocono three times. His first win came in July 2005, when he started second and led a race-high 128 of 203 laps before claiming his 13th NASCAR Cup Series victory. His second win came in August 2007 in record-setting fashion as he led 175 of 200 laps en route to claiming his 16th NASCAR Cup Series victory. His most-recent Cup Series victory at Pocono came in this race last year, when Busch was able to overcome team and fuel challenges to win the rain-delayed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400.
  • Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, one top-five finish and six top-10s in 13 starts.
  • Get to the Points – With his 37th-place finish at Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Busch enters Pocono 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 291 points behind series leader Martin Truex Jr.
  • Pocono is a Place of Firsts – Tony Stewart scored the first points-paying NASCAR Cup Series race win for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Pocono in 2009.In total, SHR teams have earned four poles, two wins, 17 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 240 laps, and have completed 96.2 percent of the laps contested (7,343 of 7,636) in 46 combined starts at Pocono.
  • SHR in 2017 – 13 races into the 2017 season, SHR Ford Fusions have recorded three poles, one win, seven top-five finishes and 20 top-10s. They have completed 16,034 of 17,224 laps contested and have collectively led 540 laps.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:

Ø  Ho-Ho-Kus Inc. Founded in 1992 by former Boeing engineers in the small borough of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, Ho-Ho-Kus Inc. began operations as a manufacturer of panel-fastening hardware and specialty aircraft-machined components. In 2002, the company significantly expanded its manufacturing and engineering capabilities when the entire company relocated to Paterson, New Jersey, the birthplace of the American industrial revolution. Today, Ho-Ho-Kus, Inc. operates a state-of-the-art facility specializing in the production of aircraft clamping systems and aircraft latching systems for use on commercial and military aerospace programs worldwide. Staffed by a dedicated team of engineers, technicians, and professionals, Ho-Ho-Kus’ entire team is focused on providing excellent products and services that meet or exceed customer requirements.

Ø  Airtech Vacuum. Airtech Vacuum Incorporated (AVI) is a full-line manufacturer of regenerative blowers and a wide range of vacuum and pressure technologies including liquid-ring vacuum pumps, DC variable speed blowers, vacuum-pump blowers and oil-free vacuum pumps. AVI provides products and services throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Its pumps and blowers are utilized for most applications in many industries where vacuum and/or pressure are required.

Ø  Haas Factory Outlet Allendale, a division of Allendale Machinery. HFO Allendale serves Haas Automation customers in New Jersey and Eastern New York with a fully staffed service department and factory-trained personnel. It stocks an extensive inventory of Haas service and maintenance parts for quick-response service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Allendale supports manufacturing education through the Haas Technical Education Centers at Hudson Valley Community College and Lincoln Technical Institute, among others.

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

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