Kurt Busch Hopes For A New England Style Comeback At Louden

Kurt Busch

The New England Patriots were down 28-3 in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots won 34-28 in overtime.

The Boston Red Sox were down three games to zero to the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. They made history by winning four in a row and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

So, it’s not how you start in the playoffs, it’s how you finish.

And that’s what Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is thinking as he looks toward this week’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

Busch was in the top-10 for much of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois but, on lap 190, he felt a vibration and was forced to pit under green on lap 200. Unfortunately for Busch, he was caught speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

That meant Busch finished a disappointing 19th in the race, two laps down, and now finds himself in 13th place with two races remaining until the playoff field is trimmed to 12 drivers.

Fear not for Busch, however. He’s had much success at New Hampshire.

The 39-year-old has three wins, two second-place finishes, seven top-threes, eight top-fives, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 541 laps in his 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at New Hampshire.

Busch’s three NASCAR Cup Series wins at New Hampshire ties him for the most among active drivers, joining Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

And while every win is cherished, those first two New Hampshire triumphs carry significant importance.

Busch swept the NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire in 2004. He overcame a 32nd-place qualifying effort in the July race to lead twice for 110 laps en route to his first Cup Series win at the track. His second victory came that September, when he led three times for a race-high 155 laps. Busch went on to win the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

When Busch won at New Hampshire in September 2004, he became the first driver to win a race in NASCAR’s playoffs. The victory placed Busch in a tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for first place in the championship standings. Busch also became one of only two drivers to have swept the slate of NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire. The other is Johnson, who swept the pair of Cup Series races in 2003.

Busch’s most recent victory at New Hampshire came in July 2008, when he won the rain-shortened Cup Series race. He only led 10 laps, but they were the final 10 of the 284 contested.

With the opening round of the NASCAR playoffs one-third complete, Busch is hoping he can find some New England luck and skill to advance to round two.

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

Your record at New Hampshire is pretty stout. Why is that?

“It’s a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport. I raced there for the first time in the Truck Series and won that race. Then, it’s a track where I have three wins in the Cup cars and, when you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you confidence. Because of the wins and everything, it’s a place we go to where I feel like I especially know what it takes from the car and the driver to be successful.”

Are the challenges at New Hampshire the same as always, or does the track change over the years?

“It seems like it has changed a little bit toward the end of the race with a lot of aggressive restarts. That is when you gain positions, or it’s easy to lose positions. Everybody is out there elbows out, pushing hard, and you hope to not have trouble.”

What do you need your car to do really well at New Hampshire to have a chance to win?

“It’s got to be able to cut in the center of the corner, cut underneath guys, look to get to that bottom lane and drive up off the corner and get side-by-side with guys. That way you have position on corner exit.”

With New Hampshire being a tight and flat mile oval, it has some short-track characteristics in that there’s close racing and sometimes contact is made. If you inadvertently get into someone, do you try to right that wrong so it doesn’t come back to bite you later?

“It depends upon the circumstances but, yes. Usually, you’re trying to keep your eye on the main prize, which is victory lane at the end of the day. If you have a run-in early in the race, that guy is going to be trying to find you or you’re looking over your shoulder. So if you can sort of hit a reset button and right a mistake, you do that, but not at the expense of taking yourself out of position for the win.”

What do you remember about winning the title in 2004?

“Having the plan beforehand and executing it, and it went perfect nine out of the 10 weeks there. The only week that didn’t go smoothly was the engine failure in Atlanta, but a plan was put together months in advance. That’s how you get ahead to be able to bring more energy and more to the track – your preparations are done months in advance, so we looked at things around July 1 on where we were this year and what we really needed to pour into the car, and I would say that our August and September went really well after changing things around in July.”

What do you remember about the final race at Homestead in 2004?

“The biggest things from the final race the year I won the championship was, 60 laps to go, our crew chief Jimmy Fennig said he didn’t want to pit because we couldn’t make it on fuel. We could go about 55 laps on fuel then. I’m looking at the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson). They’re just ahead of me and, if they pit, I’m pitting because it means we’re all going to make it to the end on gas together or we’re all going to run out together. You race the cars around you, not necessarily the race itself. So there’s that added element that you have to adjust to to be a champion in this sport, so that’s the biggest thing that stood out. We ended up making it. There were a couple of extra yellows and that helped us all race our way back up to the top-five together. Johnson finished second. I think Gordon was third and I was fifth and I had just enough points in the bank to be able to win the championship.”

Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 28 of 36 –  ISM Connect 300 – New Hampshire

 

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

 

PR Contact: Joe Crowley, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388, ext. 808, Joe.Crowley@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 the ISM Connect 300 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 977 saw its first laps of competition in March at Phoenix International Raceway, 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 (Pa.) Raceway in June, when Busch earned his 28th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory by leading the final 32 laps. Chassis No. 977 raced again at Pocono in August, when Busch finished 10th in the rain-delayed and 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 in November, when the hard work of the driver and team was rewarded with a fifth-place finish. Chassis No. 977 was outfitted with a new front clip and a Ford Fusion body in preparation for 2017 and it returned to Phoenix in March, where Busch was plagued with electrical issues and finished 25th. Its second start of 2017 came in June at Pocono where Chassis No. 977 started fifth, fell to as low as 17th with 35 laps to go, but rallied to finish fourth by the time the checkered flag waved. It’s last race came in July at New Hampshire where Busch started ninth and finished eighth. The ISM Connect 300 will mark Chassis No. 977’s 10th career start and fourth this season.
New Hampshire Notes of Interest:
 

·   The ISM Connect 300 will mark Busch’s 604th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 34th career NASCAR Cup Series start at New Hampshire. Busch has three wins, two second-place finishes, seven top-threes, eight top-fives, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 541 laps in his 32 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at New Hampshire. His average start is 11.7, his average finish is 15.6 and his lap completion rate is 96.1 percent, completing 9,408 of the 9,788 laps available.

 

·   Busch has career total totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 130 top-fives, 256 top-10s and 8,874 laps led in 603 starts.

 

·   His most recent Cup Series win came 27 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26).

 

·   His last Cup Series pole came 59 races ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway(March 4, 2016).

 

·   Before Red Sox Swept Cardinals, Busch Swept New Hampshire – In 2004, the Boston Red Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino and won its first World Series since 1918 by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. Well before this October Classic of All Classics, Busch swept the NASCAR Cup Series’ races at New Hampshire in 2004. He overcame a 32nd-place qualifying effort in July 2004 to lead twice for 110 laps en route to his first Cup Series win at New Hampshire. His second win came in September when he led three times for a race-high 155 laps. Busch went on to win the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

 

·   When Busch won at New Hampshire in September 2004, he became the first driver to win a race in NASCAR’s playoffs. The victory placed Busch in a tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for first place in the championship standings.

 

·   Busch is one of only two drivers to have swept the slate of NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire. The other is Jimmie Johnson, who swept the pair of Cup Series races in 2003.

 

·   Busch’s most recent win at New Hampshire came in July 2008 when he won the rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series race. He only led 10 laps, but they were the final 10 of the 284-lap contest.

 

·   Busch’s three NASCAR Cup Series wins at New Hampshire ties him for the most among active drivers, joining Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

 

·   New Hampshire is one of 10 racetracks where Busch does not have a NASCAR Cup Series pole. He does, however, have two second-place starting positions (July 2007 and July 2013).

 

·   Busch’s first career start at New Hampshire came on July 8, 2000 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. It was a fantastic first race as Busch qualified his Ford F-150 fifth and then led the final 35 laps en route to the win. It remains Busch’s only Truck Series start at New Hampshire.

 

·   So Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated a win, five top-fives and 13 top-10s in 27 NASCAR Cup Series starts.

 

·   Get to the Points – With his 19th-place finish last Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Busch enters New Hampshire 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings, 76 points behind series leader Martin Truex Jr.

 

 

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

 

Ripley – 46 Nooks Hill Road – Cromwell, Connecticut 06416 – www.ripley-tools.com/company/company-profile

 

Ripley is the leading global manufacturer of wire and cable preparation tools, serving lineman, technicians and installers for over 40 years. Ripley’s full product line of high quality wire and cable preparation tools and accessories for the Transmission & Distribution, CATV, Electrical and Telecommunications industries is distinguished by three brands: Miller®, Utility Tool™ and Cablematic®.

 

·      The Miller brand of products is comprised of tools for the fiber optic and telecommunications industries and offers wire cutters and slitters for all types of small wire, cable and fiber optic cable.

 

·      The Utility Tool brand of products features tools intended to splice and terminate cable while meeting specific application needs including accurate removal of insulation, semi-conductive sheathing, protective jacketing and other materials to produce a consistent, uniform preparation of cable ends.

 

·      The Cablematic product line features coring and stripping tools, drop cable trimmers and compression/crimp tools for the CATV, Telecommunications and Wireless industries. Cablematic tools prepare trunk and distribution cables in addition to drop and messengered cables.

 

Haas Factory Outlet Hartford – 651 Day Hill Road – Windsor, Connecticut – www.hfotrident.com

Haas Factory Outlet Hartford, a division of Trident Machine Tools, Inc., is strategically located to serve Northeastern New England with America’s best-selling and highest resale value CNC machine tools from Haas Automation. The HFO also supports manufacturing education through the Haas Technical Education Centers at Yale University and Central Maine Community College, among others.

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

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