Dover: Kurt Busch preview

DOVER, Del. (May 29, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is looking forward to the challenge in store during Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by VISA at Dover International Speedway, as the race marks the first battle for the new Car...

DOVER, Del. (May 29, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is looking forward to the challenge in store during Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by VISA at Dover International Speedway, as the race marks the first battle for the new Car of Tomorrow on the "Monster Mile".

"Charlotte's finish was a big disappointment for our Miller Lite Dodge team and we can't wait to get up to Dover," said Busch, who started second and led the most laps in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway before a lap 298 crash took him from competition. "We have already put Charlotte behind us and are focused fully on Dover and the races that are in front of us.

"Dover is a great track for us to regain the form we had going before, making steady progress up the points ladder."

Busch fell from seventh to ninth in the NEXTEL Cup point standings after finishing 32nd in Sunday's crash-filled race at LMS.

"It's another COT (Car of Tomorrow) race and nobody had the chance to test for this race after the Darlington race got rained out," continued Busch, who has battled from 36th in the standings earlier this season. "The bottom line is that it'll be one of the season's biggest challenges, but it'll be the same thing for everybody across the board.

"We got off to a slow start with our COT program, but we've really made tremendous progress, particularly over the last few races. Bristol was more or less an embarrassment for us, but we started moving forward at Martinsville. We had a solid top-10 car at Phoenix before the fuel mileage and caution flag bit us.

"We were really starting to hit our stride during the Richmond race and had a legitimate shot at winning that one."

Busch's average start is 20.2 and average finish is 15.2 in the five COT races completed this season.

"I'm sure that the statistics don't show how strong we've really been, but if we keep performing as competitive as we have over the last few races, we're bound to get those good numbers to back us up," Busch added.

Many competitors have drawn a parallel between driving the Car of Tomorrow and the vehicles raced in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. If that link truly exists, Busch may have an advantage in Sunday's Dover race. He certainly could draw from past experience.

Busch made his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut during the September 2000 Dover weekend, a double-header adventure for the Las Vegas native that saw him post a remarkable winning performance in his only truck series start on the "Monster Mile."

"That was a pretty cool weekend for a 22-year-old kid there at Dover in 2000," Busch recalled. "I was running for the Truck Series Rookie-of-the-Year and was third in the overall points when I got the call to drive the 97 car.

"My career was moving so fast back then. Only 11 months before that, I was just a successful young short-tracker living in Las Vegas and still holding down a job with the water department. We'd won the championship in the NASCAR Southwest Series in '99 and I was the youngest driver to ever win the title. We got the call to drive the No. 99 truck and I had run only 20 races or so [21] when I was put in the 97 Cup ride.

"I can remember reading a headline back then that said, 'Busch's Career Skyrocketing Into the Stratosphere'. That pretty much said it all. I'd gone from being a big fish in a little pond on the short tracks to a Truck Series race winner and leading rookie in only a matter of a few months. Then I went straight into the Cup ride without ever even running a single Busch Series race.

"That was a special weekend at Dover, for sure. We won the pole for the Truck Series race, but wrecked during the final practice. We had to pull the backup out and start from the rear of the field without turning a single lap of practice in it. I remember just taking it easy for the first few laps to make sure everything was cool. Then we just set sail. We'd raced up into the top five after only 50 laps. We kept up the pace and at the end it came down to a big battle between Mike Wallace and me. He was leading with only a couple of laps to go and we were right on his bumper. I made the move to pass him on the outside and he tried to block me and wound up spinning himself out. So we wound up coming from last to first and won that race in our backup truck."

Entering Sunday's Autism Speaks 400, Busch is still looking for his first Dover win and pole after 13 career races. His record boasts two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He posted his career-best Dover finish, a fourth, last September.

This Sunday, Busch will be behind the wheel of his PRS 514 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger. It is the same car the team raced to a fifth-place finish at Richmond on May 6.

This weekend's NEXTEL Cup action at Dover begins with practice on Friday between 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Friday's 3:15 p.m. single round of qualifying will allocate all starting spots for Sunday's battle. Saturday's action features practice sessions from 10 to 10:50 a.m. and from 1:20 to 2:20 p.m. Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by VISA [400 laps/400 miles] has a 1:30 p.m. starting time with live coverage provided by FOX and MRN Radio beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch