Three-time Food City 500 winner Kurt Busch ready for return to Bristol Concord, N.C. (March 24, 2005) -- Kurt Busch and the No. 97 Sharpie Ford have visited victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway four times out of their last six visits. It ...
Three-time Food City 500 winner Kurt Busch ready for return to Bristol
Concord, N.C. (March 24, 2005) -- Kurt Busch and the No. 97 Sharpie Ford have visited victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway four times out of their last six visits. It would seem logical that the half-mile, high-banked concrete track wouldn't be high on the priority list for testing.
"Bristol has been a good place for us," Busch admits. "We've won the last three (Food City 500 races) here, and we're shooting for four in a row. To do that, we needed to come back and test."
Busch and his Roush Racing crew chief Jimmy Fennig used their first test at the speedway in four years Monday afternoon.
"Jimmy and I have worked together for four years now," Busch said. "It's time to go back to some of these tracks that we haven't been to in a while just to get our notes updated. Bristol is a track we haven't tested at since I was a rookie. Even though we probably would have been okay in the race if we hadn't tested, we're able to go there and try new things since we are so comfortable with the track. Jimmy had some ideas and we were able to get some good feedback. Now we're looking for a spectacular run instead of just a solid run.
"We've noticed that our (Bristol) setup has been somewhat the same, and we know that the setup for everybody else has changed, so we're hoping to establish a setup that will still enable us to go to the front and run consistent lap times with these new tires."
The Food City 500 marks the third "impound" weekend on the 2005 NEXTEL Cup Series calendar. The teams will make their qualifying attempts Friday evening after a single two-hour practice session that afternoon. NASCAR will impound the cars following the conclusion of their two qualifying laps until the start of the race Sunday.
"We've struggled with qualifying during the impound races at Fontana and Atlanta," said Busch. "We've run 20th and 25th so far, so we tried a few things to make the car a little more balanced when we qualify in race setup."
Busch's first career NEXTEL Cup victory came at Bristol during the 2002 running of the Food City 500. The No. 97 Ford Taurus carried a Sharpie "You Could Win a Million Dollars" paint scheme. Busch repeated with another victory the following year, again in a special paint scheme, this time for Sharpie Silver Metallic. His third consecutive win in the event last year featured yet another special paint scheme celebrating Sharpie's 40th Anniversary.
This year's Food City 500 entry continues that tradition by celebrating "Autographs for Education." Busch spent time asking for students' autographs from his former middle school in Las Vegas earlier this month, in exchange for $10,000 in school supplies and funds to the school. Kenny C. Guinn Middle School, with its 1,300 students, is among a number of schools benefiting from Sharpie's commitment to award $1 million in supplies and funds nationally through its Sharpie Retractable "Autographs for Education" program in 2005. Busch invited the students in his hometown to autograph the decklid of the No. 97 Sharpie "Autographs for Education" Ford.
"I've signed autographs ever since I first started racing in Las Vegas," said Busch. "Sharpie and I are now asking everyday people for their autographs to exchange them for the supplies and funds that schools and students can really use. It's cool to be able to run a special paint scheme with some of the student's actual signatures on the car at Bristol. Maybe it will even bring us a little luck."
Darrell Waltrip holds the all-time track record at Bristol with 12 wins, while Dale Earnhardt posted nine victories.
"It's exciting to see my names compared with those guys," Busch said. "I'm not really trying to break those records. I'm just trying to compete with what my team has given me."
Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich.-based Roush Industries that operates nine motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Nextel Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, two in the Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth and Edwards, and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Ricky Craven and Todd Kluever. For sponsorship inquiries, contact John Miller, Roush Racing, (704) 720-4600.