Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Kurt Busch has turned himself into quite an accomplished road racer

Kurt Busch is 7/1 to win at Sonoma.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

We just came from Michigan International Speedway where terms like aerodynamic downforce and clean air versus dirty air were often heard. How much are you looking forward to a road-course race where those terms aren’t really a factor? 
“I really enjoy the road courses and yes, there’s not much of an aerodynamic problem as far as clean air and dirty air goes at Sonoma. It will be great to go left, go right, go up and down the hills and shift gears, then at the end of the race it’s just all-out chaos.” 

How has road-course racing changed over the years? 
“The way that we respected each other on road courses early in my career is out the window. It feels like it’s rip and gouge and take all you can get at any moment. In a way, it’s a shame that some of the respect and putting on a bit of the collared shirts and class is gone, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win.” 

Are road courses the new short track when it comes to tight racing and short tempers? 
“It definitely seems like it’s easier for payback at the road courses.” 

We used to see supposed road-course ringers show up at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, but that’s pretty rare now. Why do you think that is? 
“If you’re a good driver and you want to be in the top tier of NASCAR, you’ve got to drive well everywhere. The road courses were a bit more of a specialty back in the day and you used to be able to take advantage of the guys that didn’t put forth the full effort in the road courses, but not anymore.” 

You’ve proven to be a pretty good road-course driver. Was it something you took to right away or did you really have to work at it to enjoy the success you’ve had? 
“I really enjoyed it right off the bat. I thought it was fun and different and I worked at it to develop the skills that I have in Legends car races and Late Model races. I even went to the Bob Bondurant Driving School. My first professional type of road-course race was in the Truck Series. I jumped right in there. (Greg) Biffle won that day and I beat Ron Fellows.” 

You mentioned that racing Legends cars was how you were first introduced to road-course racing. Where did you race? 
“Legends racing was big in the mid-90s in the desert southwest and they would let us run on the infield road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as the exterior road course there. We also ran road-course races at Buttonwillow (Raceway Park) and they had a street-course race in Los Angeles and they raced up in Sonoma. I was just kind of thrown into the fire with road-course racing, but I loved it from the first time I jumped on track.” 

You won the 1999 NASCAR Southwest Tour race at Sonoma. Was that your first road-course win in a stock car? Was it a pivotal victory considering NASCAR teams were there and you were able to showcase your talents to Cup Series car owners and crew chiefs? 
“That was my first win in a stock car at a road course. I’ve always believed that Saturday race was the most important stage to stand on because there wasn’t a Truck Series race or an Xfinity Series race. Back in the day, the Southwest Tour race was the support race, and my race was live on ESPN. I’ve always thought Sonoma helped springboard me into the spotlight, and I’m very thankful for that chance.” 

How important is it to have a positive mindset when you come into a road-course race? 
“I love road racing and I think it’s fun. It’s important to have appositive mindset everywhere, but it’s not problem for me at the road courses.” 

What do you like best about road-course racing? 
“I just like the rhythm. I like how you use one corner to help you in the next corner. You have to be thinking three corners ahead.” 

Is there more opportunity on a road course because mistakes are magnified and because the race is more in the driver’s hands? 
“Everything seems to have a larger consequence because track position is so important. So as soon as you have a flat tire or a fender rub or you go off track, it’s very difficult to get back the track position you once had.” 

You have a history of success on road courses. Stewart-Haas Racing has a history of success on road courses. What are your expectations for this weekend at Sonoma? 
“We hope that we can win. The No. 14 car won last year with Tony Stewart. I know (Clint) Bowyer is really excited for the weekend and so are we. We could’ve won this race two years ago and I finished second to my little brother Kyle in the first Busch one-two finish, and last year we just burned the rear tires off of the car. We just have to get a hang of the tires that are constantly changing to get our Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford where we want it to be.”

Chassis No. 1018: This is a brand-new racecar that has never turned a wheel on the racetrack.
Sonoma Raceway Note of Interest: 
 The Save Mart 350k will mark Busch’s 592 nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, his 17th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Sonoma and his 33rd Cup Series start on a road course.

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