A ‘Home Game’ with an Eye Toward Down Under
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (March 15, 2016) – This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the fifth race of the season and the third of three of this year’s Western Swing. While Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, will aim to score his first win of 2016, he’ll also be keeping an eye on his new corporate teammates as they make their debut halfway around the world.
Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine tool builder in North America, announced the expansion of his motorsports holdings in April 2014 when he launched Haas F1 Team. This weekend, Haas F1 Team debuts in the season-opening race of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship – the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. It will be the first American team in Formula One since 1986, a span of 30 years.
For Haas, expanding into F1 is an opportunity to grow Haas Automation into a premium, global brand, showcasing his company’s latest technologies. While his goals for the 2016 season are modest, he wants drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez to focus on finishing races. Haas expects to grow into being a more competitive team in the following years, all the while using Haas F1 Team as a platform to sell more machine tools around the globe.
But, this weekend, it’s not all about Haas Automation’s latest venture. The company is headquartered is in Oxnard, California, approximately 100 miles from Auto Club Speedway, home to Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Needless to say, there’s added incentive for Busch to deliver at Haas’ home track.
But that’s nothing new to the Las Vegas native. When Busch was hired to drive the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS in 2014, Haas’ directive to the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion was clear: Win. Busch delivered in just his sixth start with the team, taking the checkered flag at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It was Haas Automation’s first Sprint Cup victory as a primary sponsor, and it was a popular one for Haas, his employees and the distributors and dealers of Haas Automation. A win at their home track could prove to be even more popular, but it would also serve to keep the brand at the forefront of American customers’ minds.
As Haas expands, he remains focused on being the leading machine tool manufacturer in America. He founded Haas Automation in Sun Valley, California in 1983 to manufacture machine tools, and entered the industry with the first fully automatic, programmable collet indexer – a device used to position parts for machining with high accuracy. Haas moved the company to its current purpose-built facility located on 86 acres in Oxnard in 1997. By then, the company had shipped its 10,000th CNC machine and, less than 10 years later, had installed its 75,000th machine. To date, more than 175,000 Haas CNC machines have been put into service worldwide.
With top-10 finishes in every race to start the 2016 season, Busch is looking forward to this weekend’s 400-miler, and he’s optimistic about his chances to earn his first win of the season at one of his favorite racetracks. There would be no better place for the No. 41 team to celebrate a victory than in Haas Automation’s home state.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talk a little bit about what you expect we’ll see this weekend at Fontana with the lower-downforce package.
“It’s going to be a big challenge at Fontana. I’m looking forward to it but, at the same time, I’m a bit apprehensive about how far the drop-off will be and how the cars will handle at the beginning of the run versus at the end of the run. We’ll have to see how many sets of tires Goodyear wants to give us. If they want to give us 30 sets, we’ll use all 30. If they only give us 14 sets, we’re going to be right on the edge of making it through the full distance with those sets of tires. If you have five laps on a set, you’re going to pit. If you don’t and it goes on an extended green-flag run, you’re going to be in big trouble.”
What do you like about racing at Fontana?
“What I like most about Fontana is the fast layout and flat corners. It’s got a wide groove, meaning you can race around the bottom, middle or top of the racetrack. You can go several cars wide down the straightaways and into the corners. It’s a lot of fun to race there.”
- Mike Zizzo
Director of Media Relations
Texas Motor Speedway