|Kurt Busch is 15/1 to win at Bristol on Sunday.|
Kurt, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, earned his first-career series win at Bristol in March 2002. It came in only his third outing there, making him the driver with the fewest starts at Thunder Valley to record his first win at the high-banked, concrete oval.
But the older Busch’s Bristol success didn’t stop there. He went on to win in three of his next four visits by sweeping both the March and August Sprint Cup races in 2003, and winning again in March 2004.
His incredible three-race win streak makes him one of just four drivers to have accomplished the feat at “Thunder Valley.” Fred Lorenzen was the first, winning the fall race in 1963 and following that with a season sweep in 1964. Cale Yarborough is the second driver to record three straight wins – and he added a fourth for good measure – sweeping both the 1976 and 1977 seasons. Darrell Waltrip became the third to win three or more races in a row when he reeled off seven consecutive wins, sweeping the 1981, 1982 and 1983 seasons, and also winning the spring race in 1984.
Busch’s most recent win at Bristol came in this race 10 year ago, in March 2006. It’s not to say he hasn’t had the runs that could have given him his sixth victory there, it’s just that circumstances have prevented him from sealing the deal. As recently as the 2015 running of the Food City 500, Busch led six times for 98 laps. But when the caution flag flew for a five-car incident on lap 482, Busch headed for pit road while most of the others up front at that point in the race did not. Busch restarted the race sixth but, barely a dozen laps later, was collected in an accident when Carl Edwards slipped while running side-by-side with Jeff Gordon. Busch, trailing the two, was unable to avoid contact with Edwards and the result was heavy damage to the right front of his Chevrolet. Busch would be credited with a 15th-place finish but believed his No. 41 Chevrolet was a race-winning car.
Things may be looking up for Busch. Two of his three Sprint Cup victories since joining SHR have come on short tracks – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
A win in Sunday’s Food City 500 would certainly help Busch’s 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff chances. It also would bring his win total at Bristol to six, making him the winningest active driver at the track. Perhaps the sweetest part of all, Busch could then once again regain ownership of the “Mr. Bristol” moniker.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Is there a sense of excitement for you when you think about Bristol?
“Yes. Bristol is one of those tracks I get a little extra pumped up for. For me, I think that feeling gets a little stronger when you’re talking about the night race at Bristol. There’s just something special about that race. I knew it before I ever made it to the big-league level of the Sprint Cup Series but, the first time I was able to experience the night race as a competitor, it’s almost indescribable. It’s a place that gives you a big adrenaline rush. You can literally feel the energy around the track from the competitors and the fans who are just excited for 500 laps of racing at Bristol. There’s really nothing quite like it.”
With the way Bristol has been the last few years, what has been the most difficult part?
“For me, the most challenging aspect is getting into those long, green-flag runs. It’s about being able to settle into a steady groove and making the best lap times you can. It’s tough at that place because it’s so fast for a short track and you can get dizzy there pretty quickly. It’s a physical track but it’s also mentally taxing, and you really have to be on your game when it comes to the concentration that is required to run well at Bristol.”
You earned your first Sprint Cup win at Bristol. You’ve got four wins in the spring race there and one in the night race. Talk about heading to Bristol.
“Bristol really seems to fit my driving style. Ever since they polished the outside groove, you have to wait for it to come in. But, when it comes in, it’s fast up there. So, I expect a lot of the fast cars to be up there on the high side.”
Haas Automation/Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Round 8 of 36 – Food City 500 – Bristol
Car No.: 41 – Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet
Teammates: Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 ditech Chevrolet SS
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS
Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS
Chassis No. 933
Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 933 in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Built new for 2015, Chassis No. 933 debuted at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, when Busch finished 10th. It was next raced at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where Busch again finished 10th. Chassis No. 933 most recently raced at Charlotte in October, when Busch recorded a fifth-place finish. Chassis No. 933 will make its first start of the 2016 season Sunday at Bristol.
Bristol Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:
Kurt Busch has career totals of 27 wins, 21 poles, 117 top-five finishes and 227 top-10s in 547 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts heading into Sunday’s Food City 500at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. His most recent Sprint Cup win came at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on June 14, 2015.
Busch scored his first career Sprint Cup Series win at Bristol in March 2002. He started 27th and led 89 laps en route to his first victory. It was only his third visit to the .533-mile, high-banked oval, making him the only driver to record his first win at Bristol in fewer than four attempts.
Sunday’s Food City 500 will mark Busch’s 31st career Sprint Cup start at Bristol. Busch has one pole, five wins, eight top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the .533-mile concrete oval. Additionally, the 37-year-old driver has led 1,021 laps, has an average starting position of 17.3, an average finish of 14.5, and has completed 95.3 percent (14,317 of 15,027) of the laps he’s contested there.
Busch’s five Bristol wins (March 2002 and 2003, August 2003, March 2004 and 2006) tie him with his younger brother Kyle Busch as the winningest active Sprint Cup drivers at Bristol.
The Las Vegas native has one pole to his credit (August 2006) at Bristol. Busch has 21 career Sprint Cup poles.
Busch completed the Bristol sweep in 2003, winning both the spring and fall Sprint Cup events. He started ninth and led 116 laps in March while starting fifth and leading 121 laps in August. In March 2004, Busch went on to record his third consecutive win at Bristol when he started 13th and led 119 laps on his way to victory lane.
Busch is one of four drivers to win three or more consecutive Sprint Cup races at Bristol. Fred Lorenzen won three in a row starting with the fall race in 1963, followed by a sweep of both 1964 events. Cale Yarborough won four in a row with sweeps in 1976 and 1977. Darrell Waltrip won seven in a row, including sweeps in 1981, 1982 and 1983, then a win at the March 1984 race.
Busch has led laps in 14 of his 30 career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol for a combined total of 1,021 laps led. Busch led 278 laps in March 2010 and finished third. He has led more than 100 laps four times, including three consecutive races – March 2003 (116), August 2003 (121) and March 2004 (119).
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Bristol – In 38 previous Sprint Cup races at Bristol, SHR has posted one pole, four top-fives and 12 top-10s, have been atop the leaderboard for 471 laps, and have completed 97.1 percent of the laps contested (18,502 of 19,062).
Get to the Points – With his ninth-place finish Saturday night in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Busch enters Bristol seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings.
SHR in 2016 – Seven races into the 2016 season, SHR’s four Sprint Cup entries have recorded one win, two poles, four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. SHR Chevrolets have completed 8,434 of 8,596 laps contested, and collectively have led 579 laps.
- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing