Kurt Busch Eager To Get Back To Business At Atlanta

Kurt Busch

A year ago, Kurt Busch and his No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway fresh off the biggest victory of his illustrious Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

And the newly anointed 2017 Daytona 500 champion took a rather circuitous route to the outskirts of Atlanta, having crisscrossed the nation on the traditional celebratory media tour for the days leading up to last year’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

This year, Busch’s thoughts and those of the rest of his Monster Energy/Haas Automation teammates made a beeline to the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval upon stepping out of his wrecked racecar during the closing laps of last weekend’s renewal of the Daytona 500.

Understandably so, a small part of Busch and his teammates arrive for this weekend’s race knowing that, with just a lap and a half to go last Sunday in “The Great American Race,” they were in position to be the first to win back-to-back Daytona 500s in almost a quarter of a century, and for only the third time ever. Busch and his team mounted a solid defense of their 2017 Daytona 500 win, having scored the Stage 1 victory and leading three times for 16 laps to bring Busch’s career total of laps led on the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval to 307. He firmly held his position among the top-three during the closing moments, leading laps 195 and 196 of the scheduled 200-lap event and eyeing a final sprint to the checkered flag. But, coming to turn two on lap 198, Busch was clipped from behind and spun out of contention in the multicar melee that ensued. He was credited with a 26th-place finish.

With Atlanta next on the schedule, this year’s Daytona disappointment quickly turns to confident anticipation for Busch as he long has lauded the track referred to as “Hotlanta” as his favorite. He’s scored two of his three career Atlanta wins during the month of March – in 2009 and 2010. In addition to that pair of wins, Busch also won there in October 2002, and his overall record at Atlanta is certainly noteworthy, featuring six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 26 starts. He’s led at least one lap in 12 different races for a total of 749 laps led, has failed to finish a race on only three occasions, and has completed all but 629 laps run in his 26 starts for a lap-completion rate of 92.5 percent.

Most recently, Busch has finished outside the top-10 just twice – 13th in both 2012 and 2014 – in his last eight Atlanta outings, recording one pole in 2016, and scoring one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10s.

So, with an oh-so-promising but ultimately disappointing Speedweeks at Daytona in the rearview mirror, it’ll be a welcome breath of fresh air for Busch and the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for SHR on the outskirts of Atlanta this weekend.

 

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
How do you switch gears from all that is Speedweeks at Daytona and go about your business on a normal race weekend like you will at Atlanta?

“Atlanta is the first mile-and-a-half track, the regular season kicks off there and you have that feel of, alright, this is the repetition of FridaySaturday and Sunday. Daytona was different this time around because of the new ride-height rule and how stiff the rear springs are. So this really gets us into the regular season and all of the R&D work that went on during the offseason. It really comes into play at Atlanta.”

What do you think about the decision by Atlanta Motor Speedway management to continue racing on the old track surface rather than repave it after last year’s event?

“The decision was made and I think it was primarily based on the drivers’ comments. The drivers don’t have a union, so to speak, or a race driver alliance like the teams do so, ultimately, Bruton Smith, Marcus Smith and the staff at Atlanta Motor Speedway had to make a decision and they went off what the drivers had to say. I’m hoping the old surface continues to make it where it’s about tire management and you see the multiple lanes and the grooves widen out, and the race is going to come down to that last pit stop. While it’s about which lane you’re in and how well you’ve done on tire management at the point, it also could be a 30- or 50-lap run at the end where it’ll be obvious who saved their tires. I applaud Atlanta’s effort and we’ll have to make sure the asphalt doesn’t tear up too much and hurt the cars, but we are going to be slip-sliding around and it’s going to be pretty neat.”

We saw at Daytona that finishing position at the end of each stage seems to be more important than ever. Do you expect that trend to continue?

“I think this whole season in 2018 we’re going to see each of the stages a bit more aggressive where people are going to try to gain those points and to win those stages because you need those bonus points to help cover you or protect you in the playoffs. If you don’t have them, you’re now working from behind in the playoffs. We’ll see it probably right away – guys will be out to win those first and second stages early in the season and on through the rest of the regular season.”

Monster Energy/Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 2 of 36 –  Folds of Honor 500 – Atlanta

 

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: Billy Scott
Hometown: Land O’ Lakes, Florida
Car Chief: Tony Cardamore
Hometown: Bristol, Virginia

Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Engine Specialist: Evan Cupples
Hometown: Hudson, Illinois

 

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
Windshield: Kyle Anderson (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Jewell, Iowa
Rear Tire Changer: Coleman Dollarhide
Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina
Jackman: Sean Cotten
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Dwayne Moore
Hometown: Griffin, Georgia
Road Crew Members:
Truck Driver: Wayne Anderson and Larry Lush
Hometowns: West Covina, California, and Waynesville, North Carolina
Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire
Hometown: Palmyra, New York
Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn
Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut
Engineers: Scott Binghamand William Lee
Hometowns: Lawrenceville, Georgia and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina

Mechanic: Nick McIntosh
Hometown: Harve, Montana

 

Mechanic: Joe Zanolini
Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania
Atlanta Notes of Interest:
· The Folds of Honor 500 will mark Busch’s 614th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 27th at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

· Busch has one pole, three wins, six top-fives and 12 top-10s at the 1.54-mile oval. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 749 laps, has an average starting position of 15.8, an average finish of 15.6, and has completed 92.5 percent (7,786 of 8,415) of the laps he’s contested there.

 

· Busch has career total totals of 29 wins, 22 poles, 131 top-fives, 258 top-10s and 8,893 laps led in 613 starts.

 

· His most recent Cup Series win came 37 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26, 2017).

 

· His last Cup Series pole came four races ago at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth(Nov. 3, 2017).

 

· Three Times a Winner at Atlanta – Busch won his first race at Atlanta in October 2002. He had the strongest car of the afternoon, leading a race-high 84 laps and holding the point when rain stopped the race after 248 of a scheduled 325 laps. His second Atlanta win came in March 2009, when he again had a dominant car, leading 235 of the eventual 330 laps to claim the victory in a green-white-checkered finish. His most-recent Atlanta win came in 2010 when, for the second year in a row, he won the spring race. He was in the lead when a horrific accident sent the race into overtime. He was in the lead during the first green-white-checkered finish, when another accident involving seven cars sent the race into another extended period. He was able to hold on and score the win in the second green-white-checkered finish.

 

· Busch has made one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Atlanta. He finished 10th.

 

· Get to the Points – With his 26th-place finish Sunday in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Busch enters Atlanta 16th in the Cup Series championship standings, 31 points behind leader Ryan Blaney.

 

· Busch led three times for 16 laps in last week’s Daytona 500 and scored the Stage 1 win to earn an additional 10 bonus points and one playoff point.

 

· The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford will have several very important partners at Atlanta:

 

Schoen Insulation Services – 850 Univeter Road in Canton, Georgia 30115 –http://www.schoenins.com/

 

Schoen Insulation Services is the national leader in the manufacturing of non-metallic machined, turned, and cut parts. The company’s commitment to quality, service, and competitive pricing has expanded its business worldwide. Its full line of manufacturing equipment, coupled with the company’s highly qualified and professional staff, are are designed to meet the most complex needs. With the company’s attention to detail, modern plant and equipment, and honed ISO 9001:2008 processes, excellence is guaranteed in all of its products.

 

Universal Alloy Corporation – 180 Lamar Haley Parkway in Canton, Georgia 30114 –www.universalalloy.com

 

UAC began as a tool-and-die shop in Southern California. Since those humble beginnings, it has grown to become one of the world’s leading producers of hard alloy extrusions. Today, UAC has grown to become a strong multinational company that employs more than 1,200 people throughout its facilities in Anaheim, California, Canton, Georgia, and Dumbravita, Romania. When it comes to hard alloy extrusions, there is no better source than UAC. After all, this is what the company does. It isn’t an afterthought, a side business. The company is known around the globe for its high-strength, hard alloy aluminum extrusions with the tightest dimensional tolerances available. Of course, customers also trust the company for precision machining, high-quality assembly, and superior surface treatment, as well.

 

Sefcor, Inc. – 1150 Uniform Road in Griffin, Georgia 30224 – www.sefcor.com

 

Since 1971, SEFCOR has built a reputation as a supplier of quality power connectors with short lead times at competitive prices. With sales offices located throughout the United States and Canada, SEFCOR continues its position as the leading supplier of power connectors to the electric power industry. As “the Industry Leader in Service to our Customers,” SEFCOR offers the most experienced technical support in the industry with fast responses to application questions, connector recommendations, and the simplest approach to special application requirements. SEFCOR power connectors are designed in accordance with the latest industry NEMA and ANSI standards and utilize robust design criteria. Production tooling is made in accordance to its exacting standards, and are carefully tested, checked and inspected rigorously to ensure dimensional accuracy before production begins.

 

Haas Factory Outlet Phillips – 8500 Triad Drive, Colfax, NC 27235 in Colfax, North Carolina 27235 – www.hfophillips.com

 

Haas Factory Outlet – Phillips, a division of Phillips Corp, 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 Applied of 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.

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

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