Busch Heads to Pocono Ready for NASCAR "Summer Grind" LONG POND, Pa. (June 2, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch says that he and his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Penske Racing Team are well-prepared for the upcoming stretch on the...
Busch Heads to Pocono Ready for NASCAR "Summer Grind"
LONG POND, Pa. (June 2, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch says that he and his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Penske Racing Team are well-prepared for the upcoming stretch on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour. In fact, he is almost gushing with optimism.
"Each week (leading into Dover) we had small separate issues that hurt our finishing results and to still be up there in points and still be close to the lead gives us great optimism heading into the summer months," said Busch, who finished fifth in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover, Del., and is fourth in the standings, trailing new leader Tony Stewart by 91 points. "I always say that after Memorial Day weekend, we jump into the summer months -- you're bouncing from the Northeast all the way to the Pacific coast and back to Florida then up to the Chicago area. It seems like a big summer grind and we're ready for that challenge."
Busch, the 2004 series champion and a 19-race winner along the tour, might be just a little off on his seasons as summer does not officially begin until June 21 this year. But, with just one look at the Penske Racing driver's career record, it's easy to understand why he is eager to usher in the upcoming portion of the 2009 schedule.
Of his 19 career victories, eight have come during the summer grind. That figure is extremely impressive considering that four of Busch's career wins were recorded in the spring race at Bristol, Tenn.
"As hectic as it always gets during the summer months, I have always enjoyed that portion of the schedule," said Busch, a two-time winner at Pocono Raceway entering this weekend's Pocono 500, which will be his 17th career race on the demanding 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track. "We're traveling from coast to coast and everywhere in between it seems. You learn to deal with it - at least the drivers and teams who excel in our sport seem to handle it well.
"It's a period of the schedule where if you can mount a good charge - if you can thrive while many of the teams are burning out - it certainly can pay big dividends down the stretch," said Busch, whose Dover finish, his fourth top-five and seventh top-10 of the year, boosted his lead over 13th to 226 points in the current standings. "It can separate the men from the boys, that's for sure. With the great cars we're putting out there week in and week out, we're really looking forward to all the races this summer and we're optimistic about being competitive in all of them."
So, are there any secrets to success during this extremely demanding period of the Sprint Cup tour?
"For me, I've always found it to be as much mentally challenging as it is physically -- maybe even more so," Busch said. "The summer months are my favorite months of the year and it's always been that way. Everyone knows what a huge baseball buff I am - especially following my Chicago Cubs. We have always been fortunate enough to attend some games during the summer months and root the Cubbies on. We're already looking at several target dates (to attend Cubs games) this summer.
"We keep our nose to the grindstone during that entire stretch as far as the racing goes, but the great weather we have during the summer months gives you an opportunity to enjoy a few healthy diversions," said Busch. "The spare time I can spend out on the lake, on the golf course or just outside in general tends to keep me rejuvenated and ready to go week after week.
"I guess you could say that it requires a good balance to prosper during the upcoming months and I feel that we have that working for us right now on our blue deuce' team," Busch said. "We're really looking forward to all the upcoming races - beginning with Pocono this weekend. We're confident that we can keep up the pace and on course to achieving our big goal right now of making the Chase for 2009."
Pocono Raceway is certainly a great place for Busch to make the next move in accomplishing that goal. In 16 career starts, he has posted the two wins, along with seven top-five finishes and eight top-10s. Particularly impressive are his win and two second-place finishes (three top-fives, four top-10s and 11.1 average finish) in the six races he has competed in Miller Lite-sponsored cars for Penske Racing at Pocono.
"We're really confident about all the upcoming races," said crew chief Tryson. "When you look at what's ahead and see that it's Pocono, Michigan, Sears Point, New Hampshire and back to Daytona, it's easy to get excited. We've won races on three of those tracks already and I look for Kurt to be really tough out there on the road course (Infineon Raceway). Kurt is due for a win on the (restrictor-) plate tracks and I don't think it would surprise anyone to see him win at Daytona. I really looked at Dover as a big hurdle and we came out of there with a top-five finish. I think the next couple of months will be very good for our Miller Lite Dodge Team."