CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2008) - According to Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch, Laps 335-400 of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway will be, "potentially the most demanding 100 miles in the history of NASCAR racing." "It'll definitely...
CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2008) - According to Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch, Laps 335-400 of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway will be, "potentially the most demanding 100 miles in the history of NASCAR racing." "It'll definitely separate the men from the boys, that's for sure," said Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Champion who is on the upswing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points after crashes at Talladega and Richmond dropped him to 24th in the standings. "It'll be an unbelievable test of stamina and endurance. I'm sure the medical staff on hand will be ready with plenty of oxygen and fluids, if need be.
"We all can certainly be thankful that the race starts late afternoon and runs into the night," said Busch, who will be making his 16th career start at LMS in Sunday's race. "I could only imagine the exhaustion rate if this race started earlier and was run in the heat of the afternoon. It could have very well been the first time we had seen relief drivers used in years out there."
Why are there such additional physical demands expected for Sunday's race?
"These new cars are a handful to drive anyhow," said Busch. "They are notorious for having the 'loose in, tight in the center and loose off' handling characteristics. You can actually wear blisters on your hands through your driving gloves if you're out there hanging on for dear life, like we have so many times this season.
"With the race starting during daylight and running on into the cool of the night, the temperatures and conditions will be continuously changing as usual," said Busch. "The goal will remain the same for the teams in that they will be constantly trying to stay on top of making the proper adjustments to adapt to the changing track.
"The bottom line, though, is that we've never faced this situation before," said Busch. "I can guarantee you that this time around with these new cars, there'll be many more ill-handling cars out there during the final 100 miles than there are cars handling well. It's been a big challenge already to race these things for 500 miles. Now go and throw in those extra 100 miles that we'll be running on Sunday and it'll be a grind like we've never experienced."
How will Busch prepare for the potentially grueling Coca-Cola 600 Sunday at LMS?
"My game plan actually started several weeks back," said Busch. "I know what a challenge it is going to be, so I've been doing what I could do for additional personal preparation for the race. The extra laps we run there on Sunday will put tremendous importance on your stamina and upper body strength.
"For a good portion of the last couple of months, I've been working out at least three days a week with my trainer. We've been putting extra focus on getting in a lot of "cardio time" on the treadmill and the elliptical machine.
"I know how much strain it is to manhandle these cars, especially if I have to really get up on the wheel of an ill-handling Miller Lite Dodge Charger," said Busch. "My trainer has had me spending a lot of time on exercises that work on my upper-body strength. We've been really hitting the machines hard and using the free weights to focus on stuff like bicep curls, lateral raises and overhead presses.
"I know I'm a pretty skinny little dude, but I honestly think that I'm in the best physical shape ever right now," said Busch. "I know what a physical drain that Sunday's race can be and I want to be as personally prepared as possible. If we're fortunate to be up there and in the hunt after the first 500 miles, I certainly don't want to be falling out of the seat when it's time to really be getting after it."
Are there any other special preparations Busch is taking for Sunday's race?
"I know that I'll be watching what I eat and drink leading up to race day and I'll have to go easy on the chicken wings," Busch said with a chuckle. "I've been talking with my trainer and reading a lot on the internet about foods that are good for providing additional energy and stamina - you know, stuff like carbo-loading and hydration therapy.
"You can bet that Eva will be cooking up a lot of pasta dishes this week, especially on Friday and Saturday nights," Busch added. "Expect to see me walking around the track from Thursday all the way till Sunday when I'm getting into the car with an energy drink or a bottle of water in my hand. All of that will be super important leading up to Sunday's Coke 600."
This weekend's Coca-Cola 600 race weekend gets under way on Thursday with practice set from 3:00 p.m. till 4:30 p.m. Thursday's 7:10 p.m. single round of qualifying will establish Sunday's 43-car starting field. There is no Cup activity on tap at the track on Friday. Saturday's schedule calls for practice from 2:45 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. and the final "Happy Hour" practice session from 6:00 p.m. till 6:50 p.m. Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (400 laps/600 miles) has a 5:45 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and the Performance Racing (radio) Network.
--Don't forget - The "Grand Opening" of the new Kurt Busch Superdome at the Victory Junction Gang Camp is set for today (Tuesday, 5/20) at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
--Kurt will be featured on this Saturday night's edition of "America's Most Wanted," the popular FOX- TV show hosted by John Walsh. "John was at the track filming on Friday and it was great to meet him and do the filming," Kurt said of the shoot held Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I was in my Miller Lite fire suit and we did a nice little interview first. Then I did the introduction to a segment where they are looking for a woman named Jenny Liang. She was living in Vegas and working at the Mirage Casino when she supposedly murdered her boyfriend and then went on the run. I really enjoyed spending the time with John and I hope that our efforts add support in helping them capture this woman. John has an entourage of about 20 people, with two armed guards following him at all times. With his show helping take down nearly 1,000 dangerous fugitives in the past 20 years, it's pretty easy to understand why he has that kind of support crew." The show airs Saturday at 9:00 p.m. EDT on FOX-TV.
--Kurt, Pat and crew racing their PSC-557 Miller Lite Dodge in this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 action at LMS. "It's the car that we raced at Texas back last month and we tested at the track (LMS) a couple of weeks back," Pat explained. "We've done quite a bit of work on it since the Texas race and it looked to be a solid top-10 car there during the two days of testing. We're in pretty good shape because we came through last Saturday night (in the Sprint All-Star Race) without putting a scratch on the other car (PSC-554 that was raced at Atlanta) and it'll be there as the backup if we need it."
--Kurt is calling the extra 100 miles that the competitors face in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at LMS, "potentially the most demanding 100 miles in the history of NASCAR racing. It'll definitely separate the men from the boys, that's for sure," Kurt said. "The extra laps we run there on Sunday will put tremendous importance on your stamina and upper body strength." So, any driver out there with an advantage? "If you ask me, the 600 is shaping up to be a Mark Martin-type race. He's in superb shape and if that No. 8 team can put a decent car under him, watch out. He can really wheel a car around Charlotte (LMS), anyhow. You throw the endurance factor into the equation and he might just be the man to beat there on Sunday." Martin won the 2002 edition of the Coca-Cola 600 as a driver for Roush Racing.
--Kurt, Pat and team testing their new PSC-565 Miller Lite Dodge Charger tomorrow (Wednesday, 5/21) at Road Atlanta, the 2.54-mile road course located in Braselton, Georgia. "We looked at several road courses to test our new road course car on and chose Road Atlanta because it offers a layout that should help us in preparing for both road course races this season. It has the 'esses' and 12 turns, including one that runs downhill," Pat explained. "We hope to get in a full day of testing there this Wednesday and are looking at going back there to test again on the Wednesday after the Dover race (June 4).
--New Spotter for No. 2 Team -- Chris Osborne debuted in his new role as spotter for Kurt and crew in last weekend's Sprint All-Star Race action. The High Point, N.C., native is perhaps best known for his years of spotting for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Hendrick Team. Chris replaces Jesse Walker, who served as spotter since the beginning of the 2007 season. Jesse has returned to his fulltime position as operations manager at KBI.
--Don't forget - the Penske Racing Fan Fest will be held at the Penske Racing headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., on Friday. Many exciting events are being planned for Penske Racing fans, including a special autograph session with NASCAR stars Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and Ryan Newman. In addition, attendees will be able to see a variety of racing machines that have propelled Penske Racing drivers into victory lane as well as the trophies they earned. The popular Sirius Satellite Radio program, "The Morning Drive," will be broadcasting live from the Penske Racing facility, located at 200 Penske Way in Mooresville. (Mapquest directions available here: www.mapquest.com/maps/200+Penske+Way+Mooresville+NC+28115/
Kurt is set to sign autographs from 9:30 till 11:00 a.m. Fans must have a ticket in order to get into the autograph line. Ticket distribution will begin at 8:00 a.m. For additional information, please visit the Penske Racing site at: www.penskeracing.com/about/index.cfm?cid=15610
--Penske Racing's historic 300th major victory could come this Sunday, either in the 92nd running of the prestigious Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway or in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard teamed in an American Le Mans Series winning effort last Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, to record Penske Racing's 299th major win.
--Kurt's visit to his souvenir trailer at Lowe's Motor Speedway this Sunday will mark the 257th time in the last 260 races that he has been out on race days to meet the fans and sign autographs. His continuing tradition began during his first full year on the Cup circuit back in 2001. Please verify the exact time of his 30-minute signing session by visiting the trailer in advance and picking up the free tickets for the autograph line.