Mooresville, N.C. – The refrain is a popular one: “Are you ready for some football?” It’s particularly so during this time of year when the college football season has begun and the NFL season is no longer just peeking around the corner but preparing to make a full-on assault on football stadiums and television sets across the country. It’s a new season with new goals and high expectations in which anything can and will happen.
While the NFL season is just kicking off its 2012 season this week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is gearing up for its version of the playoffs as it makes one more regular-season stop at one of its notorious short tracks.
If NASCAR fans are ready for some short-track racing under the lights, then that is exactly what they will get this weekend with the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
It is the 26th race of the year and its outcome will determine who’s in and who’s out of the ninth edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Kurt Busch and the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet team go into this Saturday night’s race at Richmond looking for a little redemption after a disappointing finish during the spring race at the .75-mile oval.
Busch qualified 13th for that particular race and was making his way to the top-10 before a miscue on a pit stop dropped him deep in the field. There, he was caught up in an incident that altered the course of his entire race and left him with a 28th-place finish.
While Busch wouldn’t consider Richmond a personal favorite among the tracks visited by the Sprint Cup Series, he has been able to find success at the facility. In 23 career starts at the three-quarter-mile track, Busch has one win, four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes.
Busch scored his lone Richmond victory in September 2005, and it was a victory that catapulted him into the second annual Chase for the Championship. He’s also been the model of consistency at Richmond, running at the end of each of his 23 Sprint Cup races there aside for one, which was the result of an accident during the track’s May race in 2010.
In addition to his record in Sprint Cup Series action, Busch goes into this weekend’s races having found success in the Nationwide Series as recently as April of this year.
Competing for his brother’s Kyle Busch Motorsports team, Busch drove the No. 54 Monster Energy car to a win in his first Nationwide Series start at Richmond. Busch will try to make it a sweep of the Nationwide Series events at Richmond as he is set to drive the No. 54 car yet again this weekend.
A weekend of racing under the lights awaits NASCAR fans at Richmond and, with championship aspirations on the line, much drama could unfold. But whether you are in fact ready for some football or some short-track Saturday-night racing, the sports world will have everyone covered this weekend.
Kurt Buch, Driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing:
What are your thoughts on racing at Richmond? “You know, this has always been a tough place for me. Even with the win there, I still just find it to be one of the more difficult tracks to get a handle on. It’s a short track but it’s pretty unique because, other than the fact that it’s under a mile in length, it really doesn’t compare to a Martinsville or Phoenix.
It’s pretty wide whereas, at some of our other short tracks, you are dealing with one-lane racing grooves. It’s almost like a 1.5-mile track that has been packaged into a three-quarter-mile track. It’s a place where you can get caught in the outside lane on restarts but you won’t necessarily fall back 10 or more positions like you would at a Martinsville because, if your car is handling, you are able to maintain position.
The last few times we’ve been there, though, the bottom is the place to be. Aside from it being the shortest way around the track, you can get more aggressive on the bottom lane and, if you have to, you can move people to advance your position.”
What’s the toughest part about racing at Richmond? “All of it has been pretty tough for me, but the toughest part of that track has always seemed to be the exit of turn four. It’s really hard to get the traction put down just right to not be just flat-out dead sideways all the way to the start-finish line.
It’s really hard to get the speed through three and four and carry the traction off of turn four. So, going into this weekend, that’s something I know I’ll be looking for right from the start of practice on Friday.”
How cool was it to get that first win for Kyle Busch Motorsports in April? “That was just an incredible moment for the team and our family. Any time you win is special, but being able to do it for a family owned deal just adds that something extra. Then, to watch the replay and see the emotion is just hard to put into words. It was a very special night and we hope to do it again.
It’s been tough getting this deal going this year, but there has been a lot of progress made. The KBM guys work very hard and you want to get the wins for them.
I’ll be running the Monster Energy car this weekend, and then the majority of the races from here on out so Kyle can focus his attention on the Chase and running for a championship. So it’ll be fun getting back in the Monster Energy Toyota on a regular basis this weekend.”
Source: Phoenix Racing