Kurt Busch Is Hoping For Another Milestone

Kurt Busch & Kasey Kahne

He’s got the Daytona 500 and he’s got the 600-mile race at Charlotte.

Now he just needs Indianapolis and Darlington.

And Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion, is ready for another milestone win in Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Only four drivers have won the four crown jewels and they are legends of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only guys to see the checkered flag first at the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500.

Busch has had some success at Darlington, nearly winning the spring race in 2003. In one of the most memorable finishes in NASCAR history, Busch came up .002 of a second shy of victory at the track “Too Tough to Tame” when he was nosed out by Ricky Craven in one of the closest finishes in Cup Series competition since NASCAR instituted electronic timing in 1993.

Busch also finished third in 2010 and he won the pole position in September 2001 and April 2013.

And if Busch is to be successful, he’ll have to battle the odd shape of Darlington’s racing oval.

Darlington is an egg-shaped oval, 1.366 miles in length – the odd shape because the western portion of the oval needed a tighter radius on the turns as founder Harold Brasington promised Sherman Ramsey, who owned a farm next to the property, that he wouldn’t disturb his minnow pond when he built the track in 1949.

The odd shape also means that, to find the fast way around the track, drivers run against the outside walls in each turn, sometimes brushing up against the wall and thus earning what has affectionately become known as a “Darlington Stripe” on the right side of the car. And the black marks left on the walls by the tires rubbing up against them all race weekend have led to the track’s other nickname – “The Lady in Black.”

Busch is hoping he can get a little stripe on his car, on the road to victory, to get another of the four crown jewels of NASCAR.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What would a win mean at Darlington?

“I’ve been close and it would mean the world to me because, when I first went there, I had no idea how difficult that track was going to be. And how narrow it is and how different both ends of the track are. Over the years, I quickly gained an appreciation for the nostalgia and the setting of Darlington, South Carolina and what it means for our sport. With all that mixed in together, I’d love to win that race. It’s a tough track because it changes dramatically with rubber and you have to have tire management there. You have to balance a lot of things over 500 miles.”

Are these 500 miles at Darlington the most difficult in all of NASCAR?

“Yeah, it’s flat out the most difficult. I think 500 miles at Darlington is tougher than 600 miles at Charlotte because you are up on the wheel all day and you’re right on the edge and, when you slip over that edge, you get that Darlington stripe and usually you get a fender rub and then you’re working out of a hole. Attrition usually wipes out a few guys and you don’t want to be one of those, and so you’re just right on that edge all night long.”

What makes Darlington unique?

“Darlington demands so much attention and respect. It’s similar to a Bristol like that. It’s hard to get the setup perfect because both ends of the racetrack are so different.”

What do you think of the retro feel of Darlington?

“It’s really a fun weekend. It feels like a field trip experience when you’re a kid. It’s like when you go out with your friends and you all get dressed up together. The first year, it was about the cars. The second year, it seemed like the crew guys took over and they had all their outfits. There are diecasts that are made just for that race. Chip Wile (former president of Darlington) hit a grand slam with throwback weekend and I think all of us look forward to that. And I think the fans do, as well. It definitely helps bridge the past to the present and overall just creates a fun weekend.”

Do you remember your first race at Darlington? Your first stripe?

“My first race and first stripe – that place chewed me up and spit me out. I think I wrecked 20 times, kept bouncing off wall. I wore out the tires but kept going. I probably finished 40th my first time there. It really was an eye-opener on how tough NASCAR was going to be.”

Other than the finish with Ricky Craven at Darlington, do you have any other memorable moments that stand out?

“The biggest moment at Darlington I ever had was finishing second to Ricky Craven in 2003 – everyone knows that race. It’s one of the best finishes in NASCAR history. But, probably the next-biggest moment would be during my championship run in 2004. I had an ill-handling car and still managed to finish sixth with it due to good pit stops. That was a perfect moment because it was our championship to lose, with where we finished that day in 2004. That was back when Darlington used to be in the playoffs.”

Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 25 of 36 –  Southern 500 – Darlington


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


PR Contact: Dakota Hunter, True Speed Communication (704) 875-3388 ext. 813 or Dakota.Hunter@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:
Chassis No. 003 is only the third chassis Stewart-Haas Racing has built completely in-house and the first in-house chassis used by the No. 41 team. It was built at the beginning of 2017 and turned its first laps during a Goodyear tire test May 9 to 10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Chassis No. 003’s first race came later that month in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where it qualified 12th and ran inside the top-10 all night before finishing sixth. Chassis No. 003 returned to Kentucky for the July race, where Busch started 15th but finished 30th after experiencing engine trouble.
Darlington Notes of Interest:

·   The Southern 500 will mark Busch’s 601st career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 21st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Darlington.


·   Busch has career total totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 128 top-fives, 254 top-10s and 8,867 laps led in 600 starts.


·   His most recent Cup Series win came 24 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26).


·   His last Cup Series pole came 56 races ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway(March 4, 2016).


·   The 68th annual Southern 500 will mark Busch’s 21st career Sprint Cup start at Darlington.Busch has three poles, two top-five finishes and six top-10s at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. Additionally, Busch has led 259 laps, has an average starting position of 11.5 and an average finish of 18.2.


·   Busch’s best finish at Darlington is second in March 2003. In one of the most memorable finishes in NASCAR history, Busch came up .002 of a second shy of victory at the track “Too Tough to Tame” when he was nosed out by Ricky Craven in one of the closest finishes in Cup Series competition since NASCAR instituted electronic timing in 1993.


·   The Las Vegas native has three poles to his credit at Darlington. His first came in September 2001. He won his second in November 2004. His most recent Sprint Cup pole at Darlington was in May 2013. Busch has 21 career Sprint Cup poles.


·   Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, three top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 24 starts.


·   Get to the Points – With his fifth-place finish two weekends ago at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Busch enters Darlington 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 586 points and is 365 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:


Aeridyne, Inc. – 9393 Old Number 6 Highway in Santee, South Carolina – https://aeridyne.com/


Aeridyne is an AS9100 manufacturing facility with a history of producing quality mechanical components and assemblies, sheet metal fabrication, CNC machining, and metal stamping. Its focus is simple – do whatever it takes to meet the requirements and needs of customers. Aeridyne is also proud of its Blue Streak service. If a critical job needs rapid turnaround, Aeridyne can handle it. Perhaps this is why defense contractors, electronics box build contract manufacturers and aerospace manufacturers trust the company with all of their production and prototype support needs.


ASCO (Emerson) – Multiple locations worldwide – http://www.asco.com/en-us


ASCO was founded in 1888 as a manufacturer of elevator, compressor, and generator controls. In 1910, the company invented a new electrically operated control device known as the solenoid valve. ASCO’s heritage of innovation resulted in an extensive line of products that ranged from two-position on-off valves to entire flow control systems designed to provide thousands of customer-specific solutions. Additional products were introduced during the 1970s, such as air-operated valves, manual reset valves, and pressure and temperature switches to satisfy the ever-increasing demand of new customer applications. ASCO again expanded its product line in 1982 with the acquisition of Angar Scientific, a manufacturer of micro-miniature solenoid valves. In 1985, ASCO was acquired by Emerson, one of the world’s largest and most respected industrial corporations. Later in the decade, Emerson purchased Joucomatic, Europe’s leading pneumatic valve provider, and added it to the ASCO family. In 2008, Emerson merged the North American operations of its ASCO and Numatics companies to form ASCO Numatics, a unified business that offered comprehensive flow control and pneumatics solutions for a wide range of industry-focused applications.  Numatics is a leading manufacturer of pneumatics and motion control products. Founded in 1945, the company has an extensive history of generating innovative concepts and technological breakthroughs. With the introduction of the billion-cycle, lapped spool and sleeve valve in 1952, Numatics established its reputation for design excellence. New industry benchmarks for value, reliability and performance were achieved again with the development of the 2005 Series and 2012 Series valves with advanced integrated fieldbus electronics. In 2016, ASCO and Numatics global operations were unified under the ASCO brand, setting the stage for the company’s next period of growth.


Haas Factory Outlet Greensboro, a division of Phillips Corp. – 8500 Triad Drive in Colfax, North Carolina – http://www.hfophillips.com/


HFO Greensboro is an exclusive dealer of Haas Automation CNC machine tools, serving Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Eastern Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Southern Carolina, Southern New Jersey and Tennessee. Phillips offers outstanding Haas sales, service, training, applications, and spare parts. Phillips also supports manufacturing education through the Haas Technical Education Centers at the University of North Carolina, Spartanburg Community College, Lanier Technical College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Arkansas State University, Central Alabama Community College, Johns Hopkins University, Delaware Technical and Community College, Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, and Pennsylvania College of Technology, among others.


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