Busch not a rookie at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 5, 2001) -- Kurt Busch is accustomed to taking quantum leaps in his racing career, but he'll never take a bigger jump than the one he's involved in right now. He hadn't driven a race car until seven years ago. Three...

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 5, 2001) -- Kurt Busch is accustomed to taking quantum leaps in his racing career, but he'll never take a bigger jump than the one he's involved in right now. He hadn't driven a race car until seven years ago.

Three years ago the 22-year-old Busch was a rookie on the Featherlite Southwest Series. Last year, he was the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie of the year. This year, he's a rookie on the Winston Cup circuit, battling for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors. "It will be the most difficult and the most challenging and the most intriguing move to me to go out there and race against the best in the country," said Busch. "To have Roush Racing behind me makes it easier, but I 've still got a huge learning curve.

"It's going to be very similar to what I've been doing the last few seasons. It's going to be another year of learning new tracks, new drivers and the professional ranks of Winston Cup racing." Busch is coming off the best finish of his young career, an 11th in Sunday' s UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"We really had a good day at Vegas," said Busch. "I wish we could have had a top-10 finish, but this was a huge improvement over our first two races. I'm just really proud of this team. We're coming along every race."

Busch got a bit of a jump on his Winston Cup career at Martinsville Speedway. When he comes to town for the Virginia 500 on April 8, he won't be a rookie on the .526-mile oval. He ran in two Martinsville events in 2000, the Advance Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race last April, and more importantly, the Old Dominion 500 Winston Cup race last fall.

"I ran Martinsville first in the spring truck race and I thought that would help me in the fall Cup race, but it really didn't," said Busch. "It's so close there, if you're a 10th off in qualifying, you can wind up taking a provisional." Busch started 40th and wound up 37th in last fall's Old Dominion 500.

"It's not my style track, so we're going to test there before the Virginia 500. Martinsville is just a tough track. We learned that in the Truck Series and we learned it in the Cup race. I'm looking forward to getting back there and running good."

Busch was the Craftsman Truck Series rookie of the year in 2000 while winning four events. In 1999, he was the Featherlite Southwest Series champion, a year after he won the series' rookie of the year title.

"Everything has just moved so quickly for me," said Busch. "From moving from the West Coast to Michigan (for the truck series) and then finding out in mid-summer I was going to Winston Cup. It's all been sort of overwhelming.

"The toughest thing is for us to be able to run consistent this year ... to run like we did in the Craftsman Truck Series. The (Winston Cup) cars seem to be a little more aggressive. I think (crew chief) Matt Chambers and I are in for a pretty big row to hoe this year."

The Virginia 500/Advance Auto Parts 250 weekend kicks off with Bud Pole qualifying for the Craftsman Truck Series at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 6 followed by time trials for the Winston Cup Series at 3 p.m. Tickets for qualifying are $15 for adults and children under 12 get in free. Tickets for the Advance Auto Parts 250 Craftsman Truck race are $30 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. All seats are unreserved. There still are great seats available for the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race for $40-$70 each. To purchase tickets call the speedway ticket office toll free at 877-722-3849 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch