Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Busch Looking To Parlay Success From Other 1.5-Mile Tracks To Chicago This Week

Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch has already won two NASCAR Sprint Cup races on the intermediate tracks this season. The 2004 series champ and 22-race winner at the top level of stock car racing is looking to continue to show his prowess on that size of track in this weekend’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

"We’re hoping for another big night on the banked mile-and-a-half tracks Saturday at Chicago," said Busch, who is up to fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings after surviving last Saturday night’s crash-filled Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and finishing seventh. "We’ve really come a long way with our program on the intermediate tracks and that strength continues to grow.

"But the fact is that Chicago is one of the three tracks where we have yet to get a top-five finish," Busch said of his 346-race record that still sports no top-five finishes at Chicagoland Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Watkins Glen International. "Hopefully, we can go in there this weekend and knock one of those remaining tracks off our bucket list.

"With the huge success we had back in May at Charlotte, we’ll definitely head into Chicagoland looking to utilize a similar setup," Busch said of his Steve Addington-led "Blue Deuce" team’s back-to-back wins in the Sprint All Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "The Chicago track is that true 1.5-mile layout where handling is key and you have to have a good package to excel. We had great cars for both races at Charlotte and if we can get close to matching that strength this weekend, we’ll definitely be in the hunt there on Saturday night."

In the six races held on the banked intermediate tracks thus far this year, Busch has two wins, four top-five finishes and five top-10s. His only finish out of the top 10 was in the Feb. 28 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Busch started from the pole and had a strong run going before getting caught up in a crash involving teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya.

His average finish for those six races is 8.3, but if you remove the Las Vegas finish from the equation, Busch has an incredible 3.0 average finish in the five other races.

"We finished sixth at Fontana, won at Atlanta, finished fourth at Texas, won at Charlotte and finished third at Michigan," offered Busch, who is currently 245 points behind leader Kevin Harvick, but holds a 307-point "buffer" over 13th-place Mark Martin with eight races remaining to determined the 12-team Chase field for 2010. "Our only blemish so far this season was at Vegas (Feb. 28 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway) where we had a strong run going and got caught up in a crash (and finished 35th).

"We’ll definitely be leaning toward running a similar setup at Chicagoland," Busch added. "It won’t be exactly the Charlotte package 100 percent, but it’s a great base line. We’re really pumped up about this weekend and can’t wait to get to Chicago and get after it."

Although Busch has yet to post a top-five finish at Chicagoland, his record does sport five top-10s in his nine races to date. He had sixth-place finishes in the 2002 and 2007 races and eight-place finishes there in 2001, 2005 and 2006. Overall, Busch’s average finish at Chicagoland is 17.2 after an average start of 22.1 during those nine events.

Busch started 22nd and finished 17th in last year’s edition of the 400. "We had a pretty strong Miller Lite Dodge there in that race last year, but we came out on the short end of the stick after a late-race rumble with Jimmie Johnson," Busch said of an incident with only 17 laps remaining that forced Busch to hit road for repairs. "It was a situation where contact was made that was definitely a by-product of the double-file restarts and what can happen shortly after. Everyone was digging, rooting and gouging for everything they can get and we got clobbered in the process."

Busch, Addington and crew will be racing their "PRS-725" Miller Lite "Vortex" Dodge this weekend at Chicagoland. The team debuted the car at Darlington on May 8, where Busch started 14th and finished a strong third. In it’s only other outing, Busch won the Coors Light Pole Position and finished a strong third in the June 13 battle at Michigan International Speedway.

From TRPR Kurt Busch Press Release

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