KURT BUSCH HOPING TO CONTINUE TOP-10 STREAK AT TALLADEGA -Miller Lite Dodge Driver Says Good Finish In Aaron's 499 Could "Do The Trick" In Turning Luck Around- TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch heads to...
KURT BUSCH HOPING TO CONTINUE TOP-10 STREAK AT TALLADEGA
-Miller Lite Dodge Driver Says Good Finish In Aaron's 499 Could "Do The Trick" In Turning Luck Around-
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch heads to Talladega Superspeedway for this weekend's Aaron's 499 looking for his fourth consecutive top-10 finish on the mammoth 2.66 mile track. He says that if his Roy McCauley-led Penske Racing South unit can accomplish that goal, it just could be the shot in the arm his team needs right now.
"With all the problems we've had over the last several weeks, it's really a pleasant surprise that we're not even further behind in the points than we are," said Busch, currently 17th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings and 132 points out of 10th. "We were only 63 points out of 10th and appeared to be headed in the right direction after Martinsville, but we've had the problems in the last couple of races and that momentum has stalled somewhat.
"Keeping that top-10 streak alive and getting us a great finish at Talladega could be just the thing to do the trick and get our luck turned around," said Busch, whose win at Bristol last month also rates as his lone top-10 finish for the 2006 season. "But as it always is in racing at Talladega, that may be a lot easier said than done."
Busch's career record on the circuit's largest track certainly holds much promise for his continued success. Although he is still looking for his first career Talladega Cup win, Busch has posted four top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 10 races to date. He finished third in his first career start on the track on April 22, 2001. The race also saw him lead his first lap in Cup competition.
"One of the biggest things that I'm looking forward to this weekend is attempting to pick up from where the two Penske teams left off in the Daytona 500," Busch offered. "We had a car capable of winning down in Daytona back in February before we got crashed out of the race. We ran up front all day long and stayed hooked up with the 12 car (teammate Ryan Newman) lap after lap. We got crashed and the 12 went on to finish third.
"It very well could have been a 1-2 finish for the Penske cars at Daytona if not for our misfortune," said Busch. "That's what we're hoping for at Talladega on Sunday -- having the 2 and the 12 hooked up all race long and both of us coming out of there with great finishes."
With only eight of the 26 races completed to determine who makes "The Chase" for 2006, Busch says it is way too early to be overly concerned about his position in the points.
"It's still very tight in points," Busch said. "We were knocking on the door for the top 10 just a couple of races ago, and then with two straight bad races, we're still back there in 17th. If we have a couple of good races in a row, that will put us right back in position to be steadily right there and ready for the top 10. There's a long way to go, but once you get to June and start running into the summer months at Dover, Pocono and Michigan, that's when we start worrying about where we are in the points. We still have plenty of time to go.
"The big thing these days is to just focus on getting into the top 10," said Busch. "With the playoff system we use now, it's senseless to be concerned with how far you are behind the leader. Come September, if you're in the top 10, it all reverts to those lucky guys being back on a level playing field once again for the final 10 races."
Busch started 10th and finished seventh in last year's Aaron's 499. He backed up that strong performance with an eighth-place finish at Talladega last October.
"We escaped the two big wrecks in last year's spring race at Talladega," said Busch. "We were fortunate because we were really close to being involved. Then, in the fall race, we actually did wreck and still finished eighth. We were leading and lost a right-front tire. We got into the fourth-turn wall pretty hard and sustained some pretty heavy damage. We got the caution when we needed it most and were able to get the 'toe-out' corrected. We had to start back at the rear and kept on working on it during the cautions for the remainder of the race. Once we were able to scratch and claw our way back up in the top 10, we stayed there for the rest of the race. To look at that car after the race, you would have never thought we could have finished eighth with it, but somehow we did.
"The key to being successful at Talladega and in restrictor-plate racing in general takes a full team effort," Busch contends. "In my eyes, it's about 90 percent car and 10 percent pit strategy. You need to have the equipment capable of running up front and you must make the right calls in the pits to help keep you up there. That's how you avoid getting caught up in the big multi-car crashes and that's how you bring her home in one piece and with a great finish at the end of the day."