KANNAPOLIS, N.C.– Ask Kurt Busch about his Sprint Cup Series win at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in August 2007 and he immediately begins to smile. Then he will tell you about the time he had a car at Pocono that was so dominant in every area that he never had a doubt he would win the race.
Busch, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), would like to duplicate that feeling this weekend when the Sprint Cup Series heads to Pennsylvania for Sunday afternoon’s Pocono 400.
In 2007, Busch dominated the race by leading 175 out of 200 laps at the Tricky Triangle and crossed the finish line 4.131 seconds ahead of runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. The only reason he didn’t lead all 200 laps was a slower-than-usual pit stop.
But, 2007 is not the only time Busch has been dominant at Pocono. He also won the Sprint Cup race there in August 2005, when he led 131 of 200 laps and beat Rusty Wallace. That race ended under caution.
In both the 2005 and 2007 wins, Busch started on the outside of the front row.
Busch knows the No. 41 team’s win at Martinsville in March virtually guarantees a spot in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Adding a second win would cement the team’s place in NASCAR’s 10-race playoff. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, Team Penske driver Joey Logano and Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson are the first three drivers to score multiple wins this season. Busch is one of eight single-race winners as the series heads to race 14 of 36.
In 25 career starts at Pocono, Busch has two wins, one pole, as well as 10 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s with an average start of 11th and average finish of 15th. He also has led 458 laps.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve won twice at Pocono. Which was the better experience?
“The win in 2007 with Penske Racing – that was the fastest car that I’ve ever driven. That car would turn, stick, drive down the straightaway – that car did everything. It didn’t have a single flaw. I knew how good that car was on the first lap of the race. I remember telling myself, ‘don’t screw this up.’ I ran the rest of the race more nervous than I had in years prior. I’ve never dominated a race like that. We led 175 of 200 laps. That was by far the best car I have ever driven. It was a great race to show the balance of that team and the strength of where we were at that point. I think the 25 laps that we didn’t lead were from a bad pit stop at one point. My first win at Pocono in 2005 was pretty great, too. It’s fun to win at a racetrack that is so unique because of how different that track is compared to all the other oval tracks. Pocono is a little bit like Darlington in that all the corners are different, so you have to manage them the best that you can and not be perfect in one corner versus another.”
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you go to Pocono?
“How unique the place is. You drive in through the tunnel turn and that corner to me is one of the most unique corners of all the tracks that we go to. When you go to Pocono, the first thing that you really think of is compromise – you have to juggle all three corners being different. It’s called the Tricky Triangle for a reason.”
What corner do you have to compromise the most at Pocono?
“To me, the biggest compromise is the tunnel turn. You try to be good on turn-one exit and turn-three exit, and the tunnel turn sometimes ends up being the odd man out.”
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