KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Kurt Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories have come at an array of venues across the circuit. From the shortest racetrack on the circuit, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to a road-course victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, it seems Busch has won at every type of track.
The driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has won on racetracks ranging in length from .526 of a mile, .533 of a mile, .75 of a mile, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, 1.99 miles and 2 miles. He’s celebrated in victory lane at the high-banked ovals and flat tracks. He’s even has had a seat at the head table at the year-end banquet.
But, there’s one trophy missing from Busch’s shelf. With 26 Sprint Cup wins and the 2004 championship on his list of credits, a points-paying win at either of the two restrictor-plate tracks – Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway – is the one thing that has eluded Busch in his 16-year Sprint Cup career.
While the Las Vegas native hasn’t won a Sprint Cup points-paying race at either restrictor-plate track on the schedule, he has come painfully close many times. He has four top-three finishes at Talladega and six top-threes at Daytona, including runner-up results in the Daytona 500 in 2003, 2005 and 2008.
Busch has won in both the Sprint Unlimited and Budweiser Duel non-points races at Daytona– both in 2011. He also has a 2012 NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Daytona and a 2003 IROC victory at Talladega, the site of Sunday’s GEICO 500. Still, he has fallen short of grabbing the checkered flag in a points-paying Sprint Cup race at either track.
With a victory at Talladega this weekend, Busch would join an elite list of drivers who have won at every type of track on the Sprint Cup circuit: superspeedway, speedway, intermediate, short track and road course.
With his most recent victory at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway Sunday, Busch and his No. 41 team are virtually guaranteed a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship playoffs. With plenty of racing to be done until the Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois in September, Busch and his Tony Gibson-led crew can now race aggressively for additional wins. With nothing to lose as his team tackles the always challenging Talladega circuit, Busch looks at this weekend as the perfect opportunity to finally get that restrictor-plate win he so desperately desires.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talk a little bit about racing at Talladega.
“It’s so difficult to predict Talladega. You can ride around in the back or charge up front all day and, either way, your day can end with your car on the hook. You just hope to have Lady Luck guide you to a good finish. Restrictor-plate races have turned into this pattern that it is hard to have any type of advantage over any other team. It just comes down to being in the right place at the right time. I have never won a restrictor-plate race that paid points. I won the Shootout (Sprint Unlimited) before. I’ve won a qualifying race in Daytona, but I’ve never won a points-paying race. So, look out, I’m on a tear.”
What will it take for you to score your first win at Talladega this weekend and finally get a Superspeedway victory?
“Restrictor-plate races turn into more of a crapshoot. You see if your number is going to come up and be the lucky guy at the end of the day. The way you have to stay patient all day, stay out of trouble and be on the lucky side of things, it’s a tough combination to line up and get exactly right. Over the years, I’ve had good finishes. I just haven’t been able to break through for a Sprint Cup win at a superspeedway. But, you really can’t expect to win. You have to find little things that will help you have an advantage at the end of the race.”
With so many changes with the rules package over the years, has the style of racing at Talladega ever changed? Or has it always been the same for you?
“Talladega has been the same for me the last 15 years. Not much with handling – it’s full throttle all the way around. Pit road is an easy place to get in a fender-bender. The racetrack itself, when you are in the draft, it is so easy to get caught up in somebody else’s mistake or your mistake. It takes out a lot of cars when you have that big wreck. Hopefully, things will be smooth. The way that Daytona was so exciting because of all the different wrecks that happened, maybe Talladega will be calm this time.”
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