KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Looking at Kurt Busch’s stats on mile-and-a-half racetracks, it’s easy to see why the driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is looking forward to Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
His record shows that he’s got a knack for success at the eight venues at which the Sprint Cup Series competes. Six of his 26 victories have come at four of them – three at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and one apiece at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He’s still searching for victory lane at the remaining four – Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois; Kentucky Speedway in Sparta; his home track Las Vegas Motor Speedway; and Kansas.
In 18 starts at Kansas, Busch has earned one pole (June 2011), one top-five and four top-10s. While the 1.5-mile oval hasn’t been one of his best tracks, his career-best Kansas finish of second came just three races ago.
A repeat of that performance is Busch’s goal this weekend. And it should come as no surprise if he’s able to accomplish that. While his average finish is 19th at Kansas, he led 45 laps last month at Texas and dominated in March at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, leading 65 laps and finishing third after a series of late-race cautions saw the win slip out of reach the final laps. His Haas Automation team has shown strength at the racetracks they’ve visited thus far with similar characteristics.
Busch has been a weekly contender this season and has recorded top-15 finishes in his last 10 Sprint Cup starts – the longest consecutive top-15 streak since his championship-winning season in 2004.
With his most recent victory at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway two weeks ago, Busch and the No. 41 team are virtually guaranteed a spot in the 2015 Chase for the 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 wins. A victory at Kansas this weekend would move Busch ahead of the five other single-race winners of the 2015 season thus far. The 16 drivers who qualify for the Chase will have their points total reset to 2,000 and will be seeded based on bonus points – three per win – earned prior to the start of the Chase.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What makes Kansas Speedway unique?
“As far as intermediate tracks go, it’s been one of the tougher tracks for me. It’s very smooth and it’s fast, so you can be aggressive with shock control, sway bars and other things. Kansas is definitely its own animal, but it compares more to a Michigan and the smoother racetracks that we run on versus the rough ones like Chicago and Atlanta. Kansas is unique in terms of how the wind changes direction from day to day. So, turn two might be a problem one day and turn four might be a problem the next day. The track will be fast. Cars will definitely be on edge.”
Do you anticipate any great differences with the 2015 rules package heading into the weekend?
“With the reduction of horsepower, we’ll have a lot of throttle-on time. If you check up out of the gas a little bit you lose a ton of time. The moments you lift out of the gas you want it to be small because the place is so fast. You just have to keep your foot down on the pedal and jam it hard in the corners.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine