2006 SEASON CERTAINLY A "QUALIFIED" SUCCESS FOR KURT BUSCH -Not Known For Qualifying Strength Before 2006, Miller Lite Dodge Driver Now Tied For Most Poles- FONTANA, Calif. (Aug. 29, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch had started...
2006 SEASON CERTAINLY A "QUALIFIED" SUCCESS FOR KURT BUSCH
-Not Known For Qualifying Strength Before 2006, Miller Lite Dodge Driver Now Tied For Most Poles-
FONTANA, Calif. (Aug. 29, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch had started from the pole only three times in 184 races entering the 2006 season. This season, he has already claimed four poles and is tied with Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton for winning the most poles. He thinks there are more to come.
"I guess I'm teamed up with a group that can qualify now," Busch said, after claiming the pole for last Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol, Tenn., the seventh pole of his career. "It's a credit to Penske Racing, their great engines, cars and team personnel."
By claiming the pole at Bristol, Busch has now taken the top starting spot on road courses (won both poles), a superspeedway and a short track.
"I'm calling that a trifecta in that we've now proven we can win poles on three different types of tracks," Busch said. "We take great pride in the qualifying aspect of our program this year and we're pretty focused out there every Friday. It's certainly been a big bright spot for us. It would be a big accomplishment for our first-year team if we could win the most poles this season and take the big money from those guys from St. Louis."
Not only is Busch tied for winning the most poles, his 8.417 average start is by far the best in the sport. Jeff Gordon is the only other driver with an average start of 10th or better (9.833), but he has gone 44 straight races without winning a pole.
Busch has amassed 17 top-10 starts, more than any other driver. He has started no worse than 20th in any race.
Kahne has a 12.208 average start, with 14 top-10 starts, but he has started outside the top 20 in seven races. Burton has a 13.125 average start, with 11 top-10 starts. He has started outside the top 20 in four races.
Now Busch and his Roy McCauley-led Miller Lite Dodge Team head back to California Speedway for this weekend's Sony HD 500. The 2.0-mile Fontana, Calif., track was the site of Busch's first pole for Penske Racing. It came in only his second race behind the wheel of the Miller Lite Dodge, in qualifying for February's Auto Club 500.
Busch, McCauley and crew will be racing their PRS-088 Miller Lite Dodge this weekend at California. The Sony HD 500 will mark the first race the team has used this particular car.
In eight career starts at California Speedway, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch has one win, a second and a third. His average start is 12.375 and average finish is 10.125. Busch has completed all but one (2,004 of 2,005) of the possible laps for a 99.9 percent completion average.
"I've loved racing at California Speedway ever since my first race there in the trucks back in 2000," said the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, who won the pole and the race in the October 2000 season finale for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at California Speedway. "It seems like I just immediately adapted to the place. I loved the fact that it was long and wide, with multiple racing grooves. Racing out in the West just always seems to always get me extra pumped."
Busch started from the pole and led on three different occasions in the February California race. The handling was a bit off on long runs, relegating Busch to a 16th-place finish.
"We ran the '04 body Dodge out there in the first race and the car we'll have there this weekend is the new Dodge Charger," Busch offered. "We went really soft on the springs and the car responded great for the first few laps of a run. But it was a real handful on long runs. We got spun out late in the race and were probably fortunate just to finish where we did. This car will have all the positive attributes we've learned so far this season built into it. It's another chance for us to learn and get a handle on the proper setups for these mile-and-a-half to two-mile oval tracks. We'll just keep after it till we finally figure it out and have our Miller Lite Dodge up front at the end of the race like it should be."