Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kurt Busch is 50/1 to win at Martinsville this week

Kurt Busch has two wins at Martinsville.
Chassis No. 865: Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 865 in Sunday’s Martinsville 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Formerly a No. 10 chassis for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Danica Patrick, Chassis No. 865 debuted in March 2014 at Martinsville, where Patrick started 10th and finished 32nd. Its next event was in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where she started 29th and finished 22nd. Chassis No. 865 then raced at Martinsville in October, where Patrick started 30th and finished 34th after being involved in an accident late in the race. 

Chassis No. 865 was utilized in both 2015 races at Martinsville, where Busch finished 14th in March and was in contention for the win in October when he was caught up in an incident not of his own making and was relegated to a 34th-place finish. Chassis No. 865 again was utilized in both races at Martinsville in 2016. Busch finished 13th in March and struggled with ill handling and finished 22nd in its most recent start there last October.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: What is the toughest part about racing at Martinsville?
“To me, the toughest part of Martinsville is you just never have a moment to breathe. You have to be on your game nonstop for 500 laps because somebody’s on you, or you are on top of somebody the whole time, and there’s just no room for error.” 

How much does pit strategy become a factor at Martinsville?
“It’s definitely something that comes into play. You may gamble early to pick up some positions on the track, especially if you’ve had trouble in qualifying. It’s just one of those things, though, where you always hope you’re on the right one (strategy) and, if you get caught on the wrong one, then you’re kicking yourself the whole time.” 

How much more important is track position at a place like Martinsville? 
“Track position is everything, everywhere, but at Martinsville it is just so easy to lose it. It doesn’t take much to find yourself going backward, whether it’s a situation with someone bumping you out of the way or you get too high on the track and up in the marbles. Then, deal with what that does to the tires and, boom, next thing you know, you may have had a 10th-place car and now you are 18th . It’s a goal all day to work your way forward and then just to have smooth pit stops to carry you through those midpoints of the race. Then, at the end, when everything is on the line, you have to be aggressive and you can’t be afraid to use the fenders on people to get that solid finish.”

Martinsville Speedway Notes of Interest:

 Kurt Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 21 poles, 126 top-five finishes and 245 top-10s in 581 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s Martinsville 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. His most recent NASCAR Cup Series win came in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season-opening Daytona 500. 

 Sunday’s Martinsville 500 will mark Busch’s 34th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Martinsville. Busch has two wins, one pole, three top-five finishes and five top-10s at the .526-mile oval. Additionally, the 38-year-old driver has led 464 laps, has an average starting position of 19.8, an average finish of 21.2, and has completed 97.3 percent (16,083 of 16,534) of the laps he’s contested there.

 The Las Vegas native has one pole to his credit (October 2006) at Martinsville. Busch has 21 career NASCAR Cup Series poles.

 Twice a Winner at Martinsville – Busch won his first race at Martinsville in October 2002. It was his second NASCAR Cup Series victory and a record-breaking one, at that, as he took the green flag from the 36th starting position – the deepest in the field a Martinsville winner had ever started. His most-recent Martinsville win came in March 2014. He held off six-time Cup Series champion and nine-time Martinsville race-winner Jimmie Johnson to win the Martinsville 500.

 A Place of Firsts - Busch’s March 2014 win at Martinsville was the first for Haas Automation as a primary sponsor in the NASCAR Cup Series. Prior to Martinsville, Haas Automation was winless as a primary sponsor for 11 different drivers and 115 races since 2002. Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western World, is owned by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) founder and co-owner Gene Haas.

- True Speed Communications

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