KURT BUSCH LOOKING FOR MORE DARLINGTON SPECIAL MEMORIES -Miller Lite Dodge Driver Recalls Exciting 2003 Race & First Career Cup Pole On "Track Too Tough To Tame"- DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch returns...
KURT BUSCH LOOKING FOR MORE DARLINGTON SPECIAL MEMORIES
-Miller Lite Dodge Driver Recalls Exciting 2003 Race & First Career Cup Pole On "Track Too Tough To Tame"-
DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch returns to the historical 1.366-mile Darlington Raceway for Saturday's Dodge Charger 500 hoping to add to his list of special memories of racing on the "Track Too Tough To Tame."
"We're still looking for our first win at Darlington, but that runner-up finish there in the spring race of 2003 was about as close as you can get without going to Victory Lane," said Busch of the March 16, 2003, Carolina Dodge Dealers 400. Busch and Ricky Craven staged a classic battle that saw Craven win by only 0.002 seconds, the closest finish in the history of electronic timing. "To this day, every time I think back about that race I have to say that it was pretty incredible.
"Craven and I were both in the same state of mind in that we both wanted to win, but neither of us was going to wreck the other guy," said Busch. "I think it was the ultimate example of two guys racing as hard as they could to win a race. If that same situation played out again a hundred times, 99 of them would probably end with a big crash before they got to the finish line.
"I guess the other big Darlington highlight so far was winning my first career Cup pole there back in 2001," said Busch, who joined the late Davey Allison as the only two rookie drivers to win pole positions on the tricky 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. "It came as such a surprise. I wasn't even thinking about the pole that day. I was just focused on running a good lap. It was certainly a thrill to win my first pole on such an historical track as Darlington and for such a prestigious race as the old Southern 500."
While many competitors openly state their disdain for racing at Darlington, such is certainly not the case with Busch.
"I've always loved racing at Darlington," said Busch, whose career record on the track, also known as "The Lady In Black," sports one top-five finish, four top-10 finishes and one pole position in nine races. "From way back in my short-track days, I can remember the place being so full of history. I always thought that it would be so cool to race there.
"When I got my first opportunity to race at Darlington back in the spring race of 2001, I found out that everything I'd heard about the place was absolutely true," Busch continued. "It is such a challenging track and so demanding from a mental standpoint. You have to get your car setup right to deal with the unbelievably abrasive surface. That's just part of the equation, because then you have to apply a mental focus to each and every lap. You really do race the racetrack lap after lap in hopes of being there up front to race the other competitors in the final few laps."
Busch insists that his background of racing on the short tracks out West has been extremely beneficial in becoming one of the most competitive drivers at Darlington today.
"Tire management is so critical at Darlington and I was fortunate to have gotten a pretty good grasp for that aspect of racing years ago when we ran the (Las Vegas) Bullring and several other tracks on the Southwest Tour," said Busch," who won the 1999 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series title by posting six wins, 11 top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes in 18 races. "If there ever was a 'college of effective tire management,' the days back then of racing on so many grainy, abrasive and worn out race tracks certainly were it.
"We've actually been a little stronger than our statistics show at Darlington, I think," Busch continued. "We've gotten innocently involved in a few crashes that cost us some more good finishes.
"Hopefully, we can add some more special memories to our Darlington record there this weekend," said Busch.