Kurt Busch: “Phoenix Has Character”

Kurt Busch

Who was the first driver to top 200 mph in an Indy car? Some would say Tom Sneva at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1977.

Others would say “unofficially” Gordon Johncock or Mario Andretti at Indianapolis in 1973.

The first was actually the late Gerald Wayne “Jerry” Grant on Sept. 3, 1972 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. Grant hit 201.4 mph in his 1,100-horsepower Mystery Eagle for Dan Gurney.

Kurt Busch, winner of the 2017 Daytona 500, did a great impression of Jerry Grant, who finished fifth in the 1967 Daytona 500, last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth when he earned the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole with a blistering lap of 200.915 mph.

It was the NASCAR track record at Texas and the fastest NASCAR lap ever at a 1.5-mile oval. It was Busch’s 22nd career pole and his first since 2016 at Las Vegas.

After finishing ninth in Sunday’s race at Texas, Busch and his NASCAR brethren head to Phoenix Raceway, where Grant finished eighth at Phoenix in an Indy car in 1972.

Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and 17 top-10s at Phoenix. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 751 laps, has an average starting position of 12.1, an average finish of 13.5, and has completed 99.6 percent – 9,012 of 9,051 – of the laps he’s contested there.

With only Phoenix and Homestead left on the schedule, Busch is hoping he can finish strong and finish in the top-10 in points.

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

Talk about your record-setting lap last weekend at Texas.

“(Turns) three and four is an incredible sensation. Once the car goes into the banking, it travels. The suspension collapses in the car and the car gets lower to the ground and picks up speed because you are lower to the ground and have less drag. It is a sensation that is hard to describe. When you have that grip level in the car, it gives you the feeling that you can just put it down to the floor and there won’t be any consequences. Turns one and two are where I think the lap times come from, if you can get it to hook and stay right on the bottom because that end of the track is a lot flatter. You have to back out of the gas all the way. Then, in three and four, you can hold it wide open. Both ends of the track are very different. It is a cool sensation going through three and four almost holding it wide open.”

What do you feel you need to work on at Phoenix to continue the success you’ve had there?

“It seems like, each time we go back to Phoenix, the asphalt is getting a little bit older. It’s starting to get a little bit slicker, yet it still seems like you can stay out forever on tires. You are out there a long time on tires and the air pressures build up. We are going to work this time around on keeping the air pressure down and trying to make our long-run speed better.”

What makes Phoenix such a unique racetrack?

“It’s got a great atmosphere there with turns one and two being much tighter than turns three and four. They reconfigured the dogleg on the back straightaway, which is a huge corner now. It opens up the ability to go way below the yellow line. Sometimes you see cars five-wide on the back straightaway. That is definitely a wild card in the mix there.”

Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 35 of 36 –  Can-Am 500k – Phoenix 


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


PR Contact: Joe Crowley, True Speed Communication (704) 875-3388 ext. 808 or 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. 1032:
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 1032 in Sunday’s Can-Am 500k at Phoenix Raceway. Built new for 2016, Chassis No. 1032 debuted in November at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, where Busch started 10th and finished 20th. Since then, Chassis No. 1032 was outfitted with a new front clip and body in preparation for its next race in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch started 13th and finished seventh. Its last race was at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in September, when Busch started third and finished fourth. ​​
Phoenix Notes of Interest:
·   The Can-Am 500k will mark Busch’s 611th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 30th at Phoenix Raceway. Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and 17 top-10s at the mile oval. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 751 laps, has an average starting position of 12.1, an average finish of 13.5, and has completed 99.6 percent (9,012 of 9,051) of the laps he’s contested there.


·   Busch has career total totals of 29 wins, 22 poles, 131 top-five finishes, 258 top-10s and 8,877 laps led in 610 starts.


·   His most recent Cup Series win came 34 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26).


·   His last Cup Series pole came last weekend at Texas Motor Speedwayin Fort Worth.


·   Previous Win – Busch has one career NASCAR Cup Series win at Phoenix, which came in April 2005. It was his first victory that season, when the Phoenix event was run in the spring for the first time, and the 12th of Busch’s career.


·   The Las Vegas native has 22 career Cup Series poles. Busch has never won a pole at Phoenix. His best start there is second, where he has started three times.


·   Leading the Way at Phoenix – Busch’s 751 laps led at Phoenix are the third-most that the Las Vegas native has led at any track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. The only tracks where he’s led more are Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (1,062) and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (809).


·   Busch has made one NASCAR Xfinity Series start and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Phoenix. He finished fourth in both.


·   A Place of Firsts – Crew chief Tony Gibson’s first win at the helm of a NASCAR Cup Series team came at Phoenix on April 10, 2010. He was calling the shots for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and the win was also the first for SHR at the desert oval.


·   Thus Far in 2017 – Busch has accumulated one win, six top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 34 starts.


·   Get to the Points – With his ninth-place finish last Sunday at Texas, Busch is 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 2,177 points.


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