Kurt Busch Heads To Indy With "Big Picture" In Mind INDIANAPOLIS - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch enters this weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard looking at both the "big picture" and the "really big picture." "We're coming in there...
Kurt Busch Heads To Indy With "Big Picture" In Mind
INDIANAPOLIS - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch enters this weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard looking at both the "big picture" and the "really big picture."
"We're coming in there looking at the big picture - getting a solid finish and boosting our chances of making the Chase this season," said Busch, currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings and holding a 241-point "buffer" for Chase eligibility over 13th-place Greg Biffle. "At the same time, it's only natural to have in the back of your mind what it would mean if we can win the race - the really big picture of the significance of a Brickyard 400 win for Roger (Penske, team-owner) and Penske Racing.
"As far as the 'race for the Chase' goes, we're definitely hoping to be competitive at Indy, build a little more on our confidence level and pad our 'comfort zone,'" Busch said of his position in the points. "I told them before the Chicagoland race that we were pretty comfortable where we were at the time - sitting 313 points ahead of the 12th-place guy. That 17th-place finish at Chicago narrowed that advantage to 241 points.
"With seven races to go before the Chase kicks in, we're hoping to survive and prosper this weekend at Indy," said Busch. "Then we have Watkins Glen, Pocono and Michigan. We need to run consistently strong enough in those races to have enough of a lead where we can really go on the offensive trying to win races and pick up bonus points heading into the Chase. I really feel like we can run really strong in the races right before the Chase starts - the races back at Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond - and if we can pick up a win or two at those tracks, that would be 30 bonus points that would come along with us in the Chase."
Busch said that the impact of winning this weekend's race at the Brickyard would be immeasurable, especially considering that he drives the Miller Lite Dodge for car owner Roger Penske.
"When you look at all of 'the Captain's' accomplishments and the records for Penske Racing, the significant major voids in stock car racing are a win in the Brickyard 400 and a NASCAR points title," continued Busch, who has won five races in his 127 starts as driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge entering Sunday's return to the historical facility. "I know those are major goals for Roger and I want to be the driver who delivers the goods to him. I felt like I contributed somewhat to Roger winning the Daytona 500 last year in that I did push (Ryan) Newman across the line to take the win. So, winning the Brickyard 400 and winning a championship are huge goals of ours.
"Penske Racing had such a tremendous month of May at Indy, with Helio (Castroneves) winning the pole and the Indy 500," said Busch, whose best finish in eight career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway came in his first visit to the track in 2001 when he finished fifth. "With Roger's success in the open wheel ranks at Indianapolis -- with 15 wins and 12 poles in the Indy 500 -- the significance of putting a win there in the NASCAR record book is certainly magnified. It would be a major accomplishment to be the first Penske Racing driver to score that victory.
"So the desire and incentive to win in NASCAR at Indy for Roger Penske is so obvious that it shouldn't call for much explanation," said Busch, whose IMS record boasts three top-10 finishes and a 18.0 average finish.
"Everyone remembers just how close that Rusty came to winning at Indy," Busch said of Rusty Wallace, who competed in 12 races at the Brickyard for Penske Racing before retiring at the end of the 2005 season and turning over the reins to the famous blue No. 2 car to Busch. "Rusty finished second three times and nearly notched that big win in the record book.
"So a win there on Sunday would be as prominent and important of a feat that's possible," said Busch. "For me personally, it would be a thrilling experience I'd always remember and hold at the top of the list of my accomplishments."
This weekend's action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway gets under way on Friday with practice scheduled from 2:00 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. (live on ESPN2) and from 3:30 p.m. till 4:30 p.m. (live on SPEED). The unique Indy schedule features a single round of qualifying on Saturday beginning at 10:10 a.m. (live on ESPN2 and IMS Radio Network) that will establish Sunday's entire 43-car starting field. Saturday's schedule also features a practice session from 2:00 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. (no TV coverage scheduled) and the final "Happy Hour" practice session from 3:30 p.m. till 4:30 p.m. (live coverage by ESPN2). Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (400 miles, 160 laps around 2.5-mile IMS track) is scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. start, with ESPN and IMS Radio Network beginning their coverage of the event at 1:00 p.m.