Busch Heads to The Glen Lookin to Sweep 2011 Road Courses
Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led "Double-Deuce" crew will be racing their "PRS-742" Charger this weekend at Watkins Glen International. This is the same car that Busch, Addington and crew debuted in spectacular fashion in the June 26 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Busch started 11th in that race, but quickly moved to the front. After clearing Denny Hamlin for the lead on Lap 13, he went on to lead four times for 76 laps en route to a dominant 2.685-second victory over runner-up Jeff Gordon.
"That was a flawless day and you don't enjoy too many of those in our sport." Busch's veteran crew chief Addington said. "We had a game plan and everyone from the driver to the pit crew, the great spotters we have - everyone on this Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team - executed just unbelievably well." --"Lucky Charm" back in action this weekend at Watkins Glen. Shell-Pennzoil driver Kurt Busch traditionally names his Dodge Chargers when they win races.
I'm confident that we can (run) up front racing them for the win again this weekend.
Busch has named his Sonoma race-winning "PRS-742" Dodge "Lucky Charm." "When you have great days like we enjoyed out at Sonoma, you almost have to think there's something magically special there," Busch said. "To have my team members and the people closest to me there celebrating the big win was such a thrill. We are looking forward to racing ‘Lucky Charm' again this weekend at the Glen."
Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch was thrilled to scratch Watkins Glen International off his "hit list" during last August's Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. It has long been a personal goal of the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion to post top-five finishes on all of the tracks along stock car racing's most prestigious tour. Not only did Busch accomplish that goal in last year's Watkins Glen race, he posted his best career road course finish at the time, finishing second to winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
With his recent performances, one could easily make the case that Busch has become one of the elite road course racers along the Sprint Cup circuit. After his dominant breakthrough victory in June's stop at the other road course on the tour - Infineon Raceway near Sonoma, Calif. - all would have to agree that he is certainly the hottest Cup driver on the road courses.
"Like I've been telling people since last year, this weekend's race at Watkins Glen has been locked in on our radar screen," said Busch, whose best career finish at ‘the Glen' before last year's second was the seventh-place finish he posted the year before. "To race with (Juan Pablo) Montoya and (Marcos) Ambrose like we did there last year was definitely a confidence-builder. Those two guys come from a different world when it comes to road course racing. We got by Ambrose at the end and were closing in on Montoya.
"With the performance we had out at Sonoma (Infineon) back in June, that really revs up our outlook heading back into Watkins Glen again for Sunday's race," said Busch, now fourth in points and only 14 out of the lead with only five races to determine the 12 teams competing in the 2011 edition of the Chase. "We're coming in there going full steam ahead in our quest to sweep the road course races this season. If we can show the level of strength we've enjoyed the last few times out, I certainly think we'll have a good shot of doing it."
Busch started fifth in last year's Watkins Glen battle after turning in a lap of 123.524 mph (71.403 seconds). Carl Edwards claimed the Coors Light Pole Award with a fast lap of 124.432 mph (70.881 seconds). In the race, Busch was a fixture among the top-five for the entire race around the sprawling 2.45-mile layout. After clearing Edwards and A.J. Allmendinger during a spirited battle out of Turn 1 on a Lap 30 restart, Busch ran in second or third for the remainder of the race, except for when the pit stops were cycling around. Although he never led a lap, he was closing the gap on eventual winner Montoya during the final laps. He was able to mount a final charge around Ambrose for second and closed to within 4.735 seconds of Montoya at the completion of the 90-lap battle.
"It was a great run for our Steve Addington-led Penske Racing Dodge Team" Busch recalled of last year's battle. "We made a couple of adjustments as the race went on just trying to get the back end to cool down. We were sliding around a bit. Montoya raced smart and Ambrose was there in the mix. I think where I messed up is when I let Ambrose get in behind me on the last restart. I wanted him and Montoya to battle and take each other out. That would have gotten us a great shot at the win. We were right there in the mix with our car. Steve (Addington, crew chief) made great adjustments. I thought our car got better as the race went on, just sliding the rear end a little bit; just a little too loose. It was great to race with those world-class guys there last year. A guy from Colombia and Australia, it's neat to see the different world's come together on a road course and see who can come out on top. We finished second. Montoya had a strong car.
"It'd be great to see it come down to us racing those guys again for the win on Sunday," said Busch. "I certainly would appreciate having that opportunity again. If we have as strong of Shell-Pennzoil Dodge as we had out at Sonoma, I'm confident that we can up front racing them for the win again this weekend.
In Busch's 21 career road course starts to date, he now has the one victory, along with five top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He has led laps in eight races and has led a total of 15 times for 199 laps. He has an average start of 10.1 and average finish of 18.1 in those 21 races. He has been running at the finish in 19 of the races and finished on the lead lap 17 times. In his 10 career races at Watkins Glen, Busch has last year's runner-up finish, along with three other top-10 tallies. He has a 9.7 average start and an 18.0 average finish. He has been running at the finish in eight of the races and finished on the lead lap in all of those battles. Busch claimed the Coors Light Pole Award for the 2006 race at Watkins Glen.
Although Busch score his first top-five finish at Watkins Glen during last year's visit, he still remembers a potential win that got away during his first year driving for Penske Racing. "Probably the closest we've ever come to winning one of these things so far was the '06 race at Watkins Glen," Busch offered. "We had won the Nationwide Series race there that Saturday in a wild finish battling it out with Robby Gordon. We had won the pole for the Cup race and had built a huge lead. We were going to make our final stop under the green and could go the distance. When I veered right and turned down the pit lane, the caution flag came out. They said we had not made it to the commitment line in time and we had to go to the rear of the field for the restart. That was a real heartbreaker."
Busch, Addington and crew will be racing their "PRS-742" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger again this weekend at Watkins Glen. This is the same car the team debtuted in spectacular fashion back in June at Infineon Raceway. Busch scored his first career road course win in the June 26 Toyota/Save Mart 350, leading four times for 76 of the 110 laps.
"That was a ‘no-brainer,'" Addington said of the team's decision to race this car in this weekend's road course battle. "It was a flawless performance that we had out at Sonoma and we're hoping for that kind of day again on Sunday at the Glen. I have known all along that Kurt is one of the best road course races in our sport. If we can put another strong horse under him and stay of top of things strategy-wise, don't be surprised to see the ‘Double-Deuce' back in Victory Lane there on Sunday."