Kurt Busch Hopes To Double Up And Win Indy

Kurt Busch

Dale Jarrett was the first to do it in 1996. Jimmie Johnson did it in 2006. Jamie McMurray was the most recent to do it in 2010.

It is winning the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season. And Kurt Busch, winner of this year’s Daytona 500 and driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing, is poised to become the fourth driver to double up as the 24th running of the Brickyard 400 takes place Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Busch won the season-opening Daytona 500 by leading the only lap the mattered – the last one. His single lap at the front of the field in NASCAR’s biggest race delivered his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and his first Daytona 500 victory in 17 tries. It was also his first win in a restrictor-plate race after 63 previous point-paying starts at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Those numbers prove that perseverance pays, and as Busch gets set for his 17th start in the Brickyard 400, perseverance will again be needed.

Despite completing 92.1 percent of the laps available to him, Busch has only one top-five finish and five top-10s in his 16 previous Brickyard 400 starts. And of Busch’s 8,867 total laps led during his 17-year and counting NASCAR Cup Series career, only three have come at Indianapolis.

That doesn’t mean Busch hasn’t enjoyed success at Indianapolis.

In 2014, Busch stepped out from his stock-car norms and into the world of INDYCAR, competing in the 98th Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport. The first-time Indycar driver looked like a veteran on the historic, 2.5-mile rectangle, starting 12th and finishing sixth to claim rookie-of-the-year honors. And to add another degree of difficulty to the day, Busch did what only three other drivers had done before – perform The Double by racing in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway that evening.

More than 10 years before doing The Double, Busch secured a championship at Indianapolis. It was 2003 and Busch was selected to compete in the 12-driver International Race of Champions (IROC) for the first time in his career. IROC ran for 30 years and pitted race-winning and championship-winning drivers from all different motorsport disciplines in the same racecars to determine a best-of-the-best victor in a four-race series that began in February at Daytona and culminated in August at Indianapolis. Busch finished second at Daytona and then won the series’ next race at Talladega. He went on to finish third in July at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, and arrived at Indianapolis locked in a title battle with eventual five-time IROC champion Mark Martin. Busch finished fourth in the IROC finale while Martin finished fifth, giving Busch an 11-point edge over Martin and the IROC championship.

Those accolades bolster Busch’s chances at Indianapolis, a flat and fast track built for high-downforce Indycars that in May hosted its 101st Indianapolis 500.

That doesn’t mean big, heavy stock cars can’t navigate this hallowed ground. Speeds in qualifying for last year’s Brickyard 400 easily topped 180 mph, showcasing a driver’s will and tenacity alongside his crew’s ingenuity and attention to detail.

Tony Gibson, crew chief for Busch and the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation team, knows what it’s like when the driver connects with his racecar. Gibson was the car chief for Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports from 1999 through 2001. The powerhouse team won 16 races in those three years and clinched the 2001 NASCAR Cup Series championship. Among those wins was a Brickyard 400 triumph in 2001, where the chassis adjustments and shock and spring combinations created by renowned crew chief Ray Evernham were executed by Gibson.

With Gibson in his corner and Roush-Yates horsepower underneath the hood of his Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion, Busch is ready to double up by doubling over to kiss the bricks Sunday at Indianapolis.

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

You’ve had success at Indianapolis, but not in NASCAR. What makes the track so difficult?

“Indianapolis has been tough on me over the years. I don’t know what it is about it. The diamond-cut surface, the way that the asphalt is very fresh when we first get there and then how it glazes over and gets slick at the end – I’ve struggled with that over the years. Just got to pace ourselves and find the right combination on our Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford that will give us the grip once the track gets rubbered in.”

What makes Indy such an iconic venue?

“Indy is Indy. It’s the coolest racetrack that we get to race on, other than Daytona. The history, the prestige, the value of Indianapolis – it is defined by the number of decades they have produced races there and the atmosphere. It’s very electric at Indianapolis. For me to actually get to run the Indy 500 in the month of May is a little different than when we race there in July because of the fact it is their backyard, it is their stage. Those Indiana natives love their track. What makes Indy special is the people.”

You competed in the Indianapolis 500 once. Any chance you’ll do it again?

“Possibly. I really enjoyed my time there. It was a great challenge, personally, and just the overall experience of going 230 mph in an open cockpit car was fun. The fun meter was pegged. The achievement of finishing sixth overall was exciting. But then there’s that 1,100 miles. I didn’t quite finish the Coke 600 that night due to an engine failure. That’s what would draw me back in – to try to get all 1,100 miles in.”

How hard is it to drive a stock car at Indianapolis?

“You’re asking the wrong guy about driving a stock car at Indy. I’ve struggled. I finished fifth my first time there and I’ve never been able to back that up. Then I go there for the first time in an Indy car and I finish sixth. I’m not really sure. The stock cars are tough in traffic. They always end up on the tight side. And you have to find that right restart lineup lane. Usually, the cars that win there, they’re the dominant type. They lead laps. They’re up front all day. I haven’t quite found that right combination yet, but another Brickyard 400 means another opportunity.”

Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 20 of 36 –  Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis

 

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

 

PR Contact: Mike Arning, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388, ext. 802, Mike.Arning@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. 1043:
 

This is a brand-new racecar that has never turned a wheel on the racetrack.

Indianapolis Notes of Interest:
 

● The Brickyard 400 will mark Busch’s 596th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 17th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Indianapolis.

 

● Busch has career total totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 127 top-fives, 252 top-10s and 8,867 laps led in 595 starts.

► His most recent Cup Series win came 18 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26, 2017).

► His last Cup Series pole came 51 races ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway(March 4, 2016).

► Busch is slated to make his 600th career NASCAR Cup Series start Aug. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

 

● Busch has one top-five and five top-10s and has led only three laps in his 16 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Indianapolis. His average start is 15.9, his average finish is 19.0 and he has completed 92.1 percent of the laps available (2,372 of 2,575 laps).

 

● Busch might be winless at Indianapolis, but his crew chief is not. Tony Gibson, who has been Busch’s crew chief since late 2014, won the Brickyard 400 in 2001 when he was the car chief for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team at Hendrick Motorsports.

 

● Believe It Or Not – Indianapolis is one of 10 racetracks amid the 23 venues the NASCAR Cup Series visits where Busch has never won a pole. Busch’s best starting position at Indianapolis is third in 2006. Busch’s best Indianapolis finish is fifth, and it came during his rookie season in 2001 when he proved that you don’t have to start up front to finish up front. Busch started 34th that day.

 

● Do The Double – Busch’s 2014 season wasn’t all about NASCAR as he did what only three other drivers have attempted – compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. In an Indycar fielded by Andretti Autosport, Busch started 12th and finished an impressive sixth in the Indianapolis 500, earning Indy 500 rookie of the year honors. And after completing all 500 miles at Indy, Busch jetted off to Concord, North Carolina, to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 that evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He raced competitively, but 271 laps into the longest race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, engine problems sent Busch to the garage 129 laps short of the full race distance. In all, Busch completed 906.5 miles, leaving Tony Stewart, co-owner with Gene Haas of Stewart-Haas Racing, as the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles in the grueling trek known as “The Double.” Robby Gordon and John Andretti are the only other drivers to attempt The Double.

 

● Busch IROCs and Rolls to Championship – In 2003, Busch was selected to compete in the 12-driver International Race of Champions (IROC) for the first time in his career. In the fourth and final IROC round in August at Indianapolis, Busch started 12th and picked off eight cars to finish a strong fourth. The result, in addition to his second-place finish in the series opener in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, his win in the second race in April at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and his third-place finish in July at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, earned Busch the IROC championship, which he won by 11 points over Mark Martin.

 

● Coming Full Circle with the Blue Oval – Busch drove a Ford at Indianapolis in his first five Brickyard 400s while a member of Roush Fenway Racing. He is back with Ford in 2017 as Stewart-Haas Racing is a proud member of the Ford Performance family. Just as Busch brought Ford a Daytona 500 victory earlier this season, he wants to add another jewel in Ford’s crown with a Brickyard 400 triumph. Ford’s last Brickyard 400 win came in 1999 with Dale Jarrett. Ford also kissed the bricks with Jarrett in 1996 and with Ricky Rudd in 1997. Those victories added to Ford’s already strong history at Indianapolis, as the marque also owns eight Indianapolis 500 wins: 1965 with Jim Clark, 1966 with Graham Hill, 1967 with A.J. Foyt, 1969 with Mario Andretti, 1970 and 1971 with Al Unser, 1995 with Jacques Villeneuve and 1996 with Buddy Lazier.

 

● Busch’s Spotter Back Home Again – LaPorte, Indiana-native Tony Raines is Busch’s spotter. LaPorte is located 150 miles north of Indianapolis and Raines competed in four Brickyard 400s with a best finish of 11th in 2006.

 

● So Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated a win, two top-fives and nine top-10s in 19 NASCAR Cup Series starts.

 

● Get to the Points – With his eighth-place finish last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Busch enters Indianapolis 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 455 points and is 303 points behind series leader Martin Truex Jr.

Haas Automation Partner Notes:
 

The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion will carry decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:

 

Banjo Liquid Handling Products (www.banjocorp.com) – Located at 150 Banjo Drive in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Banjo Liquid Handling Products began in 1959 with Terra-Knife, a small supply company specializing in fertilizer knives to farmers. As the agricultural industry continued to grow and the needs for new, innovative products were on the rise. Company founder Jack Canine and his employees met this demand by introducing additional products to the Terra-Knife line, including ball valves and cam lever couplings. Shortly thereafter, the company was renamed Terra-Products to better represent its broad product offerings. In keeping with Canine’s entrepreneurial spirit, the engineering and manufacturing of new products continued throughout the years leading to the service of new markets, including many industrial applications. Canine’s personal hobby and love for the banjo, and the handle shape of one of the company’s key products – the ball valve – led to the renaming of Terra-Products to Banjo Corporation. Banjo Corporation joined IDEX Fluid & Metering Technologies Division in 2006 to strengthen and complement IDEX’s global position in delivering complete fluidics solutions to agricultural and industrial industries. Today, Banjo Liquid Handling Products is a world-class producer of a wide range of mechanical and electrical valves, fittings and self-priming centrifugal pumps for agriculture and numerous industrial applications that ship to every corner of the globe. Product innovation has been a Banjo hallmark since Canine designed a better knife for applying anhydrous ammonia over a half century ago. Since then, Banjo has added a portfolio of thousands of products, many resulting from the specific needs of its customers.

 

Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) Chicago, a division of Midwest Machinery Resources, LLC (www.hfochicago.com) – Located at 555 Busse Road in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, HFO Chicago serves Northern Illinois and Indiana with American-made, high-tech Haas Automation CNC machine tools. HFO Chicago is committed to customer service and ensuring that customers have the lowest overall cost and the highest overall value. HFO Chicago also supports manufacturing education through the Haas Technical Education Centers at Vincennes University and Illinois State University, among others.

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

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