No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford and Kurt Busch Testing and the Points Lead CONCORD, N.C. (October 5, 2004) -- As the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" heads to week four, Kurt Busch and the No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford Taurus have spent 11 of the past 12 days...
No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford and Kurt Busch
Testing and the Points Lead
CONCORD, N.C. (October 5, 2004) -- As the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" heads to week four, Kurt Busch and the No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford Taurus have spent 11 of the past 12 days on the racetrack. They arrived in Dover on Sept. 24 for three days of practice and the MBNA 400, spent two days testing at Kansas Speedway the following Tuesday and Wednesday, then headed to Talladega Superspeedway the next morning for inspection. The team returned home to Charlotte this past Sunday evening following the conclusion of Sunday's EA Sports 500 at Talladega only to awake the next morning ready for another day of testing. On that occasion the travel was eliminated with a trip across the street to Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Tomorrow that streak stretches to 12 of 13 with the second of a two-day test at Martinsville Speedway.
"It seems like we're on our own little testing 500, 1500, 2000," said Busch of the intense schedule. "Wherever we're testing we're making so many laps that we're trying to keep up with all of our notes. We tested Kansas just last week, so that should be a good race for us. We spent some time at Charlotte last night working out some handling issues, and we're happy with what we've got, and today we're on to Martinsville.
"The mile-and-a-halves are really going to set the tone for these final ten. That's where most of these last seven races are slated for and next year we're going to have five mile-and-a-halves in the final 10 races, so that's just what I see as an outlook on things. We've got Kansas, Charlotte and Atlanta and, of course, Miami. They reconfigured that place to a fast mile and a half and that's the most similar group of tracks you see in the final 10, so that's where you have to be the most competitive."
Busch has competed in three races at Kansas Speedway scoring just one top-10 finish there. He finished 40th at the track one year ago, his worst finish and only DNF at Kansas. Last week the team focused on chassis #64, a new car that saw its first on-track action during the test.
The No. 97 team tested two cars in the late afternoon yesterday at the 1.5 mile, quad-oval Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, including chassis #62, the same car that finished 11th in the Coca-Cola 600 at the speedway earlier in the season and will again serve as the primary for the return to the track next week. They also tested chassis #58 as a back-up, the same car that finished 10th at Indianapolis in August.
At Martinsville today and tomorrow, two cars (#48 and #56) that have previous experience at NASCAR's shortest track are preparing for a return to an event Busch won two years ago.
Busch now holds a 12-point lead in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings after NASCAR penalized Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 25 points for a post-race comment.
"It's unfortunate," said Busch of the incident. "The emotions in victory lane overcame him. He was the dominant car all day and deserved to win. The way he's been there in the past, we expected him to do that well, but, for us, we want to beat him on the race track. This is just a quick point difference that was 13 in his favor and now it's 12 in our favor, but we've got seven races to go. Hopefully, these 25 points won't come into the final factor because we want to beat him on the race track.
"I want to go into the last race with 155-point edge and that way we won't have to worry about anything."
Following the trip to Kansas City this weekend, the NEXTEL Cup Series visits Lowe's Motor Speedway on Oct. 16, and Martinsville on Oct. 24.
Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich., based Roush Industries that operates nine motorsports teams; five in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, two in the NASCAR Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth and Biffle and two in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Jon Wood and Carl Edwards.