KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Oct. 1, 2014) – “We don’t get to advance to the championship, but we can still run for pride and for wins.”
Those were the words of a visibly disappointed Kurt Busch following last weekend’s race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Despite putting up a valiant fight, Busch and his No. 41 Haas Automation team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) fell a scant six points shy of advancing to the second round of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, ending the Las Vegas native’s bid for his second title.
So, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion has one thing in mind for these next seven races – to put his black-and-red No. 41 Haas Automation Chevy up front and in victory lane.
As Busch said, his team is now racing for pride and for wins. He wants to collect as many trophies as possible to close out this 2014 season, and winning Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City is the first step.
In 17 starts at Kansas, Busch earned one pole in June 2011, one top-five and four top-10 finishes. While the 1.5-mile oval hasn’t been one of his best tracks, he did collect his career-best finish – a second-place effort – at the track last fall.
And, that’s just the kind of performance Busch wants to have this weekend.
A breakthrough victory at Kansas would add to the list of mile-and-a-half successes the Las Vegas native has experienced in his career. He’s won at four of the eight mile-and-a-half venues at which the Sprint Cup Series competes – Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Homestead-Miami Speedway. The remaining 1.5-mile racetracks where Busch is still searching for victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series are Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, his home track Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Kansas.
While Busch and his No. 41 Haas Automation team may be on the outside looking in at this season’s championship chase, they still have goals to achieve. They still have races to win. Ove the next seven weekends, Busch wants to prove that his team is the best of the rest.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What makes Kansas Speedway unique?
“The track is 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. I’m expecting that we’ll have high speeds like we had in the spring. The track will be fast. Cars will definitely be on edge.”
Talk a little bit about this race last year. You started from the back of the field after going to a backup car, but you came home second.
“It was nice to finally put a checkmark under the top-five box at Kansas. It was, in a way, a small victory to finally get that second-place finish. We battled hard to come from 41st in a backup car. It was a treacherous race, it was cool out and the tires didn’t quite have the heat in them, so patience was key. But, at the same time, restarts were where I was able to make passes. I found some patterns in the way that restarts were shaping up, and I was able to apply it.”
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