Busch Looking for Road Course Win at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Entering Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is batting 0-for-19 in his career road course races along the NASCAR Sprint...
Busch Looking for Road Course Win at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Entering Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is batting 0-for-19 in his career road course races along the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. But the 2004 series champ feels Sunday's battle at Watkins Glen International offers him the perfect opportunity for a breakthrough victory.
"I've really enjoyed racing at Watkins Glen through the years and in some respects feel like maybe I've thrown away as many good chances to do well there as I have been able to capitalize on at Bristol," said Busch, who will be making his 350th career Sprint Cup start in Sunday's race. "For the most part, we've gone in there having to play it the conservative route in having our eyes set on making the Chase, so we really haven't tried the things with the fuel mileage and so forth that might have led to some wins along the way.
"There are the 10 bonus points there for winning the race going into the Chase, so all the top teams will be putting forth full efforts there this weekend and you can certainly include our Miller Lite Dodge Team in that group," offered Busch, whose "Chase Buffer Points" (advantage over 13th in the standings) fell from 274 points to 192 last Sunday at Pocono after getting crashed out late in the race and finishing 33rd. "It'll be the same tough race as usual this weekend and there are likely to be the multiple green-white-checkered attempts at the end to really make it interesting. I'm looking forward to having another shot at getting that first road course win and we can't wait to see how things shake out there on Sunday."
In Busch's 19 career road course starts to date, he has three top-five finishes and six top-10s. He has led laps in seven races and has led a total of 11 times for 123 laps. He has an average start of 10.4 and average finish of 19.9 in those 19 races. In his nine races at Watkins Glen International, Busch has three top-10 finishes. He has a 10.2 average start and a 19.8 average finish. Over the last three years, Busch has recorded two of his top-10s and posted a 9.3 average finish.
"We've gotten stronger and stronger through the years at Watkins Glen, I feel," said Busch. "When you look back, it's pretty easy to say that we should have had a win and several top-fives in the record book to go along with that pole. It's a challenge we always look forward to and that's especially the case there this weekend.
"Probably the closest we've ever come to winning one of these things so far was the '06 race at Watkins Glen," Busch offered. "We had won the Nationwide Series race there that Saturday in a wild finish battling it out with Robby Gordon. We had won the pole for the Cup race and had built a huge lead. We were going to make our final stop under the green and could go the distance. When I veered right and turned down the pit lane, the caution flag came out. They said we had not made it to the commitment line in time and we had to go to the rear of the field for the restart. That was a real heartbreaker.
"I still think that I can improve on the road course," Busch stated. "Right now, the way that the game has changed, everybody is really competitive on road courses. You have to be on your game. You have to show up and make sure that you don't lose a lot of points. It just seems like the fuel mileage is such a big, big issue when you get to the road courses. You race the races from backwards to front on when you have to pit for the final time. You stretch your fuel for as long as you can go and that's what we have to work on this time around."
Busch started from the outside pole and finished seventh in last year's edition of the Heluva Good at the Glen. Busch's qualifying lap was 123.619 mph (71.348 seconds) compared to Coors Light Pole Award winner Jimmie Johnson's 123.633 mph (71.340 seconds). Busch led three times for 23 laps during the early portion of the race, but his Dodge's fuel mileage forced an extra visit to pit road and he had to rally to finish seventh in the event that was delayed till Monday due to the weather.
"We had a great Miller Lite Dodge at the Glen last year, but we got bitten badly by our fuel mileage," Busch recalled. "We led the race from the beginning until we pitted and looked to have a car plenty capable of winning the race. But when the strategies started playing out, we had to make an extra stop in order to stay there in the fuel window.
"We fell back to about 15th or so with about 25 laps to go and made the best run that we could down to the wire," said Busch. "It was great to have finished up there solidly in the top-10, but to have a car as strong as ours was there that day left me really wanting more and feeling that we left so much out there on the table.
"We departed Watkins Glen last year with a bit of an empty feeling and are coming back in there this week hoping to get our Miller Lite Dodge into Victory Lane," Busch said. "It'll be our last chance to put the 'Blue Deuce' in the winner's circle on a road course and we'll be doing everything possible to get that job done."
-source: penske racing