Las Vegas: Kurt Busch preview

Kurt Busch Excited To Race on "Home Track" LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Feb. 24, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch comes into Las Vegas for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after driving straight up from last ...

Kurt Busch Excited To Race on "Home Track"

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Feb. 24, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch comes into Las Vegas for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after driving straight up from last weekend's race in Fontana, Calif. Well, not exactly the direct route.

"Let's see, it'll take us about four days to move a little over 230 miles," Busch said with a chuckle last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. "That's pretty much a snail's pace and a speed that I wouldn't be proud of otherwise. But what can I say? I'm a desert rat and guess I always will be. There will be a lot of memories made between here and there."

Busch and his "posse" continued earlier this week what has become an annual ritual as the group enjoyed several days of fun and sun in the Mojave Desert. "It's a couple of days of getting back to nature," said Busch of the outing. "We'll be doing some 4-wheeling, socializing, enjoying our sponsor's product and, like I said, making some memories."

But rest assured, it will be all business as usual when the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour hits Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend and nothing could match the memories made for Busch if he could win this weekend's Shelby 427 at his "home" track.

It is highly doubtful that any NASCAR Sprint Cup competitor wants to win Sunday's 285-lap, 427.5-mile race at LVMS as much as the Busch Brothers and in particular, Kurt, the elder statesman. It is almost certain that Kurt's value of such a win exceeds that of all the other drivers, younger brother included.

"You could say that I have a race win scale that's based on what I feel is the level of prestige associated with a particular victory," said the 30-year-old Las Vegas native and graduate of Durango High School. "It's a given that the Daytona 500 is our biggest race - it's NASCAR's 'Super Bowl,' that's for sure. You'd have to put Indy and the Brickyard (400) as second on that list, just because of the incredible history the facility hosting the race has.

"In my mind and on my personal scale, I have to put a Vegas win as next - as the third most prestigious on the list," continued Busch, who comes into Las Vegas third in the point standings after finishing 10th at Daytona and fifth last Sunday in California. "There are a lot of big races out there. You can't deny that the Coke 600 is big -- really big. A win at Darlington is certainly special from an historical angle. Man, what about the August night race at Bristol?

"I know that I'm pretty biased when it comes to racing in Vegas and I think most people can understand that. They may not agree with it or appreciate it that much, but they can understand how I feel."

A review of Busch's career perhaps offers some insight into his strong value of a win on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Only 15 years ago, the 15-year-old Busch could be found driving a Dwarf Car owned by his father on the high-banked quarter-mile Pahrump Valley Speedway, which was located 60 miles outside of Las Vegas drive off Nevada Highway 160.

Then, it was over to The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Busch claimed the 1996 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Hobby Stock championship, among three of the titles he won at the three-eighths-mile asphalt oval.

After a year at the University of Arizona, Busch was back racing full time on the NASCAR Southwest Tour for the Las Vegas-based team owned by local businessman Craig Keough.

After winning that series' rookie title in 1998 and the points championship a year later, he signed on with Roush Racing for 2000. After a year in NASCAR Craftsman Truck competition, Busch became a fixture on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour in 2001. Eight seasons later, he has enjoyed a flourishing career that has produced 18 race wins and the 2004 points title. Along the way, in 294 total career Cup starts, Busch has led laps in 125 of those races, finishing in the top-five 62 times and 116 times in the top 10.

"One of the projects that I enjoyed a couple of years back was getting my historical photos, the various newspaper clippings organized -- trying to get the archives in order," said Busch. "There's this one photo that I have which is one of my favorites -- if not my very favorite of all times.

"I'm posing by my old Hobby Stock car at The Bullring. The angle of this photo makes the background very prominent. In the background, you can see all the big cranes at work and Las Vegas Motor Speedway being built. That photo really is a neat representation of my career. I think it depicts what has happened about as well as possible. When I was growing up and racing in Vegas, I just looked at it as something my dad and I could do together and really enjoy spending that time with each other. That photo will always be super special to me."

So, what would a win this Sunday in the Shelby 427 mean to Busch?

"You know, if I was to win at Vegas, oh man, I'd come unglued," Busch said. "It's my big race. A lot of people like going to Vegas, doing the race and the city in one huge weekend with so much going on. It's my hometown. I used to haul (rear end) through that desert parking lot before the big track even existed after a race at the local short track. I saw it built from the ground up. I want to win at all the tracks and hopefully I'll be around long enough to win at most of them. But, Vegas is No. 1 on my hit list right now."

How would the self-proclaimed "desert rat" celebrate the big win?

"We'll have a helluva party, I guarantee you that," Busch said. "The Miller Lite will flow. We'll all be in there dancing with the show girls. It'll be a Victory Lane celebration like they've never had yet at the track, that I can promise you. They'll also be partying down at all the PT's locations throughout Nevada."

-credit: pr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch