Kurt Busch calls Saturdays's Texas Race "BIGGEST TEST" of 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas. (April 5, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch is calling Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway the "biggest test" of the young 2011 season. The 2004 series champion has tasted success in action "under the lights" and he certainly yearns for more in the track's first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race in its 15-year history. "We just love racing on the Texas track, no matter if it's day or night," said Busch, who finished 16th at Martinsville last Sunday and is currently fourth in the point standings after six races. "With the late afternoon race starts we've had there in the past, we've already had a dose of finishing a race under the lights. But this race is monumental in that it'll be the first to begin and end under that setting. So, that definitely adds to everyone wanting to win this race so much."
While Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 is important simply from the "prestige factor" of the race, Busch is quick to also point out that it rates much more than just one of 36 points-paying races for even more significant reasons.
"It's what the race represents big-picture-wise," said Busch. "It's another one of the battles on the intermediate tracks and we all know the importance of running well there. It's where the big bulk of our races are staged - on the big mile-and-a-half tracks like Texas. So you could look at it as the biggest test of the season, especially for our two Penske Racing Dodge teams.
"We all know that finishing positions are points when it all shakes down and with so many of our races on these type tracks, how you run - and finish - is just that critical," said Busch. "We struggled at Fontana (Auto Club Speedway) a couple of weeks back and have been playing catch-up. We ran like 25th there all race long and were fortunate enough to mount a strong charge at the end to finish 17th. When you just stop and look at those numbers, the way the point system is now, that was an eight-point swing for the good in just a matter of a handful of laps.
"So it's Texas next in the lineup of that type of track and we're committed to show improvement," said Busch. "I know all our guys have been really hard at it in their preparation for this weekend's race. We can't wait to get after it there on Thursday and see how it all shakes out."
While Busch may lump Texas Motor Speedway in the same group with the "intermediate tracks," he is quick to point out the TMS definitely has a "personality" of its own.
"It's its own animal," said Busch. "Each place may look the same, but each driver and crew chief will tell you that it drives very different and requires you to work hard on your race setups. It's a tough track, that's for sure and it's so fast. With this race being at night under the lights, I guarantee you that Texas will feel like it's the fastest one of them all. There's just a lot of high speed action at Texas. You really have to get up on the wheel and grit your teeth. You have to push your car extra if you're going to make it stick and get that extra speed out of it."
They really know how to make you feel that it's a major accomplishment to win a Texas race.
"They really know how to make you feel that it's a major accomplishment to win a Texas race and I am sure that they have so much in store for the winner there this Saturday night," said Busch, who will be looking for career win No. 23 in Saturday's TMS battle. "The cowboy hats, getting to fire the six-shooters, the whole big western theme; that's a great trademark that Eddie (track president Eddie Gossage) and the Texas track have going for them. The celebration doesn't end in Victory Lane as Eddie has always carried the winners around to the Speedway Club to raise a special toast to the massive crowd gathered there. It's all just so cool and that's about the best way that I know how to describe it.
"It's always special win on a special track - a really big accomplishment that they turn into a huge memorable experience," Busch said. "It's something you really long for doing again if you've been fortunate enough to win there and that's certainly the case with our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team as we head back to Texas.
"We're racing on a Saturday night under the lights for the first time at Texas Motor Speedway and I really get excited thinking about it. It's a special race and we want to be the team firing the six-shooters and sporting the cowboy hats there in Victory Lane when the dust has settled.
"We already have the night race wins on our resume from tracks like Bristol, Richmond and Phoenix," said Busch. "Two of our biggest career wins came under the lights at Charlotte last May. This weekend's race at Texas is huge on our radar screen. We hope we can hit our target."
While Busch, crew chief Steve Addington and crew originally planned to debut their new "PRS-754" chassis at Texas this weekend, they have decided to race their "PRS-744" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend's action. "It's the car that we brought out for the first time at Vegas (started 22nd and finished ninth in the March 6 Kobalt Tools 400 at LVMS), said crew chief Addington. "It continued to get better throughout the weekend - responding so well to all of our adjustments - we just had to give it another chance to do even better this weekend at Texas."
-source: penske racing