Sixes and Eights
The term “luck” is one that is used in the daily vernacular of a NASCAR driver. A driver and team may experience a bout of bad luck one week and reap the fortunes of good luck the next. Beyond the instances of chance, drivers also believe luck is a result of routines and objects. One driver may eat the same thing for breakfast each race morning in hopes of eliciting good fortune while another may seek good luck via a specific pre-race ritual. Other drivers may carry special trinkets considered to be lucky, or associate themselves with numbers they consider to be lucky, or even find special meaning in things such as starting position or pit-road assignment.
While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch doesn’t have a lucky number, his past performance at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., indicates a level of fondness for the numbers six and eight. The driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing goes into Sunday’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland with a total of six top-10 finishes in 11 starts at the 1.5-mile oval. Each of those top-10 finishes have either been a sixth- or an eighth-place effort. One of Busch’s better performances at Chicagoland was one year ago, when he qualified third and led a race-high 64 laps before settling for a sixth-place finish. Ironically, that performance was almost identical to the one Nationwide race Busch ran at Chicagoland during the 2006 season. After qualifying third and leading a race-high 79 laps, Busch ended up with a sixth-place finish when the race came down to fuel mileage that season.
Although he has yet to win a race at Chicagoland, Busch has a great deal of affinity for the facility and the nearby city of Chicago.
Busch is a baseball junkie – a fact that has been well-documented with stories describing his passion for the sport and the fact he has visited every ballpark in the country. Busch is a life-long fan of the Chicago Cubs and has visited historic Wrigley Field numerous times. While Busch is a Cubs devotee, he’s also a fan of the Chicago Bears, who kicked off their season with a 41-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. Busch will be looking for more of the same from his beloved Bears as they take on the Green Bay Packers Thursday night, only he’ll have more on the line as he has a bet on the game with fellow driver Matt Kenseth, a devoted Packers fan. Should the Packers win, Busch will wear a Packers jersey to Sunday’s drivers meeting. If the Bears win, Kenseth will sport a Bears jersey to the meeting.
Although sixes and eights aren’t necessarily the ultimate goals for NASCAR drivers, either finish is considered a good day in the ultra-competitive world of Sprint Cup racing. And multitudes of scores involving sixes and eights will go a long way in helping Busch win his friendly wager on Thursday night.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing:
What have your previous races at Chicago been like for you? “Chicago is a fast, mile-and-a-half track I have always enjoyed racing since I started racing there in my rookie season. The track isn’t as smooth as it used to be – it has some bumps in it – but it’s a place I like. It is another one of those tracks, though, where I just haven’t had the best of luck. An example is the 2002 race. We had a really fast car for that race but, for some reason after the last pit stop, the car just wasn’t handling the same as it had been. We were just way too tight and really couldn’t figure out why. When we got back to the shop and started going over the car, we realized that the radiator pan had come off and that’s like 100 pounds of front downforce. We were going so fast that the car bottomed out and dragged the radiator pan out. It’s just weird stuff like that.”
You obviously have an affinity for the city of Chicago and its sports teams. “It’s a great city and one of my favorites to visit. I’ve been a big fan of the Cubs for a long time and I’m also a fan of the Bears, so it’s always a good weekend for me when we head to Chicago.”
You will be running the Nationwide Series race again this weekend for Kyle Busch Motorsports. What do you expect to see there? “Yeah, it will be the second time I’ve run the Nationwide Series at Chicago, but it’s been a few years since I’ve raced there in that series. The Nationwide program has come a long way. We just still have some things we have to figure out. There are eight races left in the Nationwide season and I think I’m doing six of those, right now. It’s all about wins in that car from here on out and just trying to get ready for next season, so it should be a lot of fun.”
How about this bet with Matt Kenseth? “I’m a big Bears fan and he’s a big Packers fan. They play each other Thursday night at Lambeau Field and, in football, that’s a pretty big NFC North rivalry. NASCAR and the guys at Chicagoland came up with the idea of this bet since we’ll be in Chicago this weekend. We actually wanted to go to the game but couldn’t get tickets – that’s just how big this game is for the Packers and Bears fans. But, yeah, if the Bears lose, then I’m going to have to wear a Packers jersey to the driver-crew chief meeting on Sunday and I really don’t want to wear that green and gold. So I’ll be looking for big things from the Bears on Thursday.”
Source: Phoenix Racing