KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – This weekend’s Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is one for bragging rights as Kurt Busch, driver of the Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), and his No. 41 team will converge on Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn looking to claim the victory at the racetrack with the closest proximity to Detroit – the hometown of General Motors.
The 2-mile Michigan track long has been known as the home track for the American automobile manufacturers competing in NASCAR. Chevrolet – in business for more than 100 years – is a cornerstone partner for SHR and has played an integral role in the team’s successes, including 28 points-paying Sprint Cup wins and two series championships.
In 91 races since NASCAR first visited the Irish Hills in 1969, eight different manufacturers have gone to victory lane. Ford, with 34 wins, leads Chevrolet, which has raced into victory lane 22 times. Busch would like nothing more than to pick up the win this weekend to increase Chevrolet’s total, earn his third Michigan win and the first for SHR.
Busch scored his first Michigan win during the track’s June race in 2003, leading 23 laps along the way. He scored his second Michigan win with more of an exclamation point by leading a race-high 92 laps on Aug. 21, 2007. In addition to the two victories, Busch has a pair of poles. He earned the top starting spot for the track’s June races in both 2010 and 2011.
Despite finding victory lane twice there, Busch has struggled to find consistency at Michigan. Those two wins are half of just four top-five finishes he’s had in 28 starts there. He finished 13th and 31st in his two Michigan starts in 2014.
Busch and his No. 41 team have shown speed week in and week out this season, and he wants to make his presence on the track known at Michigan this weekend. With a strong run earlier this year at Michigan’s sister track, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Busch fully expects to be a contender this weekend. He’s enjoying one of his strongest, most consistent seasons in recent years, so it would be difficult to rule him out heading into Sunday’s 400-miler.
The Haas Automation team will look to improve upon last week’s fifth-place finish at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway by getting Busch his third Michigan victory and their second of the 2015 season. While Busch and the No. 41 team are virtually guaranteed a spot in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs thanks to their April win at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, additional victories would move Busch ahead of the six other single-race winners of the 2015 season. 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:
Talk a little bit about racing at Michigan.
“Michigan is one of the fastest racetracks. When you have the speed there, you feel it. You definitely feel that 215 mph that we had last year. The way you carry speed through the center of the corner at Michigan, it’s probably the highest speed for the least amount of banking, so to speak. There are some mile-and-a-half racetracks that you carry more speed at, but they have more banking. Michigan is one of those tough tracks where you are trying to balance that straightaway speed versus handling every time you go there.”
How do you think the 2015 rule package will play into this weekend’s race?
“It’s going to be a higher cornering speed now and it’s going to put more emphasis on the aero side of things to get the grip out of the car. With the straightaways as long as they are, you’re still trying to think about aero but, at the same time now with the horsepower being knocked out, you’re going to try to get to throttle-on time as much as possible.”
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