Kurt Busch Is “Most Comfortable” At LVMS

Kurt Busch

The voice of legendary sports broadcaster Brent Musburger can be heard saying, “You are looking live at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the 2018 NASCAR playoffs are set to begin.”

Musburger, who is now a Las Vegas resident, used his trademark opening line “You are looking live” before countless professional football games. But there was always added emphasis if it was before an NFL playoff game. And before he would introduce his broadcasting partners Irv Cross, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder and Phyllis George, Musburger would always highlight key players.

And if he was working Sunday’s opening race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Las Vegas, Musburger would highlight Kurt Busch, who is a Las Vegas native and would love to win the opening race of 2018 postseason.

Busch has won two poles and scored one top-five finish and four top-10s at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval. Additionally, the 40-year-old driver has led 85 laps, has an average starting position of 9.1, an average finish of 22.5, and has completed 95.2 percent – 4,341 of 4,560 – of the laps he’s contested there.

But he’s never found victory lane at his hometown track. And it would be a Vegas-style party if he wins it this year.

Think of Dale Earnhardt in 1998 winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Or Busch’s boss, Tony Stewart, when he finally won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2005.

That would be Busch if he could be victorious at Las Vegas, especially with it being the opening race of the playoffs for the first time.

He and the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing have had a great season thus far, winning one race, scoring 17 top-10 finishes and entering the playoffs tied for sixth in points.

And both Busch and his crew chief Billy Scott would love nothing better than getting a victory at Las Vegas to start the playoffs in the best way possible, and giving Busch a heartfelt, hometown win.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Thoughts on the playoffs?

“We have to stick with our strengths and that is consistency. We’ve qualified well all year. We’ve had good pit strategy and we just have to make sure we don’t make any mistakes that hurt us and we lose a lot of track position. So, right now, it’s the playoffs and we’ll just work our way through and advance through the rounds.”

Are you worried about the “Big Three” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.?

“They’ll be strong. You can never count them out. There’s a group of us that’s from fourth to I’d say 16th. I mean, everybody that’s in the playoffs has a chance, but those big three have bonus points that will help them advance.”

What track are you most comfortable about in the first round?

“My hometown Vegas has been tough on me over the years. The roval (at Charlotte) is going be terribly exciting (laughing). We’re going to go with Richmond. I think Richmond is our strongest track in that first round. We have the best driver rating there from the spring race. We just didn’t execute to finish the race, so we’ll see how it all plays out. That first round is all new tracks for the first round.”

Does racing in Las Vegas give you a “home-field” advantage, and are you excited about two chances to win at Vegas in 2018?

“It never translated to a home-field advantage. I’ve always struggled at Las Vegas. I’ve qualified well but just haven’t raced that well. I’m looking to turn that around. There’s no sense in having the fast laps at the beginning if you can’t back them up at the end. And to get the second weekend, that’s huge for Las Vegas. To kick off the NASCAR playoffs in Las Vegas, it will be hot – be forewarned – and it will be a new, exciting feel for our sport. I’m really happy for the track and the town to have two dates.”

What does it feel like coming back to Las Vegas?

“Vegas is different. It’s our hometown and we grew up racing on that little three-eighth-mile bullring that is in the shadows of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Every time I go out there, it reminds me of all the people who helped Kyle (Busch, brother) and I, especially our dad Tom. But the different Late Model teams, Modified teams, the Legend car races, and all the competitors, the Dwarf car days. It’s just fun to come back and reminisce. But, ultimately, you’ve got to strap on the helmet and focus on the task at hand. It’s always special in Vegas.”

Of those venues that you mentioned, is there an area out West that you like to visit – have to visit – when you’re out there?

“My hometown of Las Vegas, going back there to see family, friends, and restaurants. There’s this old-school place where we always used to go get pizza when I was a kid. It was just great to go back to the roots and reminisce. It gets you back to where everything started, going to Vegas.”

Haas Automation Racing Team Report
Round 27 of 36 – South Point 400 – Las Vegas

 

Car No.: 41 – 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: Ryan Mulder
Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa
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: Tim Hussey and Larry Lush
Hometowns: Asheboro, North Carolina, and Waynesville, North Carolina
Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire
Hometown: Palmyra, New York
Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn
Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut
Engineers: Scott Bingham and William Lee
Hometowns: Lawrenceville, Georgia and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina

Mechanic: Nick McIntosh
Hometown: Harve, Montana

 

Mechanic: Joe Zanolini
Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania

 

Las Vegas Notes of Interest:
· The South Point 400 will mark Kurt Busch’s 639th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 18th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch has won two poles and scored one top-five finish and four top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. Additionally, the 40-year-old driver has led 85 laps, has an average starting position of 9.1, an average finish of 22.5, and has completed 95.2 percent – 4,341 of 4,560 – of the laps he’s contested there.

· Busch has career totals of 30 wins, 25 poles, 135 top-fives, 275 top-10s and 9,354 laps led in 638 career starts.

· His most recent Cup Series win came three races ago in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (Aug. 18, 2018).

· His last Cup Series pole came seven races ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (July 20, 2018).

· In 1998, Busch accepted a job working the graveyard shift for the Las Vegas Valley Water District, where he fixed water main breaks and serviced fire hydrants and service lines. Busch took a 12-month leave of absence in 2000 to pursue his NASCAR dreams driving in the Camping World Truck Series for Roush Racing. He called his former employer 11 months later to inform him he had accepted a NASCAR Cup Series contract at Roush and would not be returning to the Las Vegas Valley Water District.

· 9,000 and counting – By leading 98 laps in the April race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Busch became just the 21st driver to lead 9,000 laps in his NASCAR career. He is now 20th in the laps-led standings, having led 9,354 laps. He’s 390 laps behind Buddy Baker and 204 laps ahead of 21st-place Denny Hamlin. Busch is fifth among active drivers in laps led.

· Back Where it Started Busch, a native of Las Vegas, grew up approximately 20 miles from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He graduated near the top of his class from Durango High School in 1996. He began his career racing go-karts in Las Vegas when he was 7, transitioned to Hobby Stocks in 1996 and, by year’s end, captured the track championship at Las Vegas Speedway Park. He racked up numerous wins and championships and eventually caught the eye of successful NASCAR team owner Jack Roush, who decided to host driver auditions for a team he fielded in the Truck Series. Busch was invited to participate and, in a pivotal moment in his life, he won the audition and started competing for Roush in 2000. Less than a year after hiring him to race in the Truck Series, Roush announced that Busch would be promoted to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Barely a year removed from running Late Models on the Featherlite Southwest Tour, Busch was racing the No. 97 Ford in NASCAR’s elite division.

· Busch has led laps in seven of his 17 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Las Vegas for a combined total of 85 laps led. He led 40 laps in March 2005 en route to a third-place finish – his best finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

· Busch has two poles (2010, 2016) at Las Vegas. Busch has 22 career NASCAR Cup Series poles.

· Busch has made one NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Las Vegas. He started and finished fourth in 2010.

· Get to the Points – Following his sixth-place finish at Indianapolis and with the playoffs starting, Busch is tied for sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 2,014 points. He has one win, four top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 24 races.

· Busch has been in the top-10 in points for 21 consecutive weeks. The last time he was in the top-10 for 21 consecutive weeks was when he was in the top-10 for the first 27 races of the 2016 season.

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

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