Talladega: Kurt Busch preview

Busch Looking to Overcome "Plate Race" Skid at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. - Five inexplicable, mysterious and unanswered occurrences: 1) the Bermuda Triangle? 2) the Taos Hum? 3) Where is Jimmy Hoffa's body? 4) Who was D.B. Cooper? 5) Why is Kurt...

Busch Looking to Overcome "Plate Race" Skid at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Five inexplicable, mysterious and unanswered occurrences: 1) the Bermuda Triangle? 2) the Taos Hum? 3) Where is Jimmy Hoffa's body? 4) Who was D.B. Cooper? 5) Why is Kurt Busch winless in restrictor-plate racing?

"That last one is easy to explain and it's because we have yet to come across the finish line first in any of those races so far in my career," Busch said with a chuckle and a mischievous grin. "Why we haven't been able to do that at least once along the way is probably a better way of phrasing that question. It certainly hasn't been from a lack of effort because we've given it our all every time we've been out there.

"I've been racing at this level fulltime for going on 10 years now and we've been close - really close - to winning in restrictor-plate racing," said Busch, who will be making his 19th career Talladega Superspeedway start and 38th overall restrictor-plate race start in Sunday's Aaron's 499. "This weekend's race at Talladega offers us another opportunity to break into the win column and we're looking forward to it. Our attitude has always remained the same. We always come into the races at Talladega and Daytona confident that we'll have a good shot at winning if we play our cards right, stay out of the big crashes and put ourselves in a position to be there up front at the end."

Busch finished an impressive third in his first-ever Talladega Superspeedway Cup race back on April 22, 2001. After following that up with a third and a fourth in the 2002 races there, it is difficult to grasp that he returns in 2010 still looking to visit the Talladega Victory Lane for the first time. In 18 career starts on the massive 2.66-mile Alabama track, Busch is winless, but he has posted six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He has a 13.111 average finish, even with three DNFs (Did Not Finishes).

Even harder to fathom is the fact that Busch is entering this weekend's Aaron's 499 batting zero for 37 in career restrictor-plate racing competition. Like he says, he has been close - really close - to tasting victory on the circuit's two largest tracks.

When you add his 19-race Daytona International Speedway statistics (no wins, nine top-fives and 10 top-10s) into the equation, Busch's 37-race restrictor-plate record to date sports 15 top-five finishes (including three seconds and six thirds) and 22 top-10s. He has a 15.622 average finish in spite of five DNFs.

"You'd like to think that with our competitive history - with all the runner-up finishes, the top-fives and the top-10s - that sooner than later it'll be our Miller Lite Dodge finally taking the checkered flag and going to Victory Lane to celebrate a big win," said Busch, who climbed back up to ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings after finishing fourth at Texas last Monday. "But I've been racing at this level plenty long enough to know that all the history and statistics you have behind you can't do it alone.

"Every time you get out there, you have to put yourself in the position to win and it will be no different there this weekend," said Busch, who is looking for career victory No. 22 at Talladega on Sunday. "All those second-place finishes and all the top-fives show that we've certainly been able to get ourselves in the position to win, but for one reason or another we just haven't been able to pull it off yet.

"The goal this weekend is the same as it is every time we take the green flag here and that's to run a smart race and be up in the lead group of cars for the stretch run," said Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Champion. "In every one of these races, I'm out there trying to learn something new. That's especially true every time the rules are tweaked and we change to a different package. The goal always remains the same, though, and that's to be there at the end of the race and positioned for a shot at it.

"Yeah, I thought I probably should have won a restrictor-plate race by now," said Busch. "Does it bother me? No, not really, because we know that as long as you keep beating on that door, you're gonna' knock it down sooner or later. I never get discouraged as long as I run well and can be competitive every time we race in those races.

"I think that the biggest thing I always have going for me is that I truly enjoy the plate races," said Busch. "I think for sure that I am in the minority when I say that. I know how much the fans love it. I know it's hard for most people to understand, but the more I'm right in the middle of the lead pack, the more comfortable I am in the car. I feel like I learn something each time I'm in that position, especially how to survive it and get a good finish out of it."

Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-632" Miller Lite Dodge Charger this weekend at Talladega. This is the same chassis that the team debuted in February at Daytona in the Gatorade Duel #2 (started third and finished fourth) and raced in the Daytona 500 (started 10th and finished 23rd).

-source: penske

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch
Teams Team Penske