Busch Hopes for Double-File Chase Restart Success at Kansas

September 29, 2009


KANSAS CITY, Kans. (Sept. 22, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is quick to point out that he is a big supporter of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' change in format to the addition of "Double-File Restarts -- Shootout Style" throughout each race.

"The double-file restart rule is probably one of the biggest single moves to create additional excitement in the history of Sprint Cup racing," said Busch, of NASCAR's rule change that dates back to the June 7 Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. "It's also one of the most challenging changes ever introduced to this level of racing.

"Of course, I'm a huge supporter of the double-file restarts," said Busch, currently fourth in points in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title, now 75 points behind leader Mark Martin. Anything we can do to add interest to the fans at the track and those watching on TV and listening in on the radio - you bet I'm for it. As far as the competitors go, it's a huge additional challenge, but most of us who have made it up to this level thrive on challenges. I'm one of the guys that grew up racing late models on the short tracks, so we're pretty familiar with those kinds of restarts and all the other twists that are used to add excitement.

"I'm fine with the double-file restarts, but we might have to draw the line if they look at inverting the starting field," chuckled Busch, referring to the rule many short track series' use in rearranging the starting field after qualifying has concluded. "Seriously, I really have no problem with it at all. I'm all for it."

From a competition standpoint, it should be easy to see that it makes sense that Busch should be a proponent of double-file restarts. A recent study done by Dustin Long of Landmark Newspapers, with the help of NASCAR's "stats guru" Mike Forde, showed that Busch was third on the list of drivers gaining spots after restarts. Even more compelling was data showing that Busch was the leading driver in maintaining his position or advancing five laps into the run. Those stats showed that Busch either kept his spot or gained at least a position 84 percent of the time.

"When I heard that stat, I had to say, ‘yeah, that's pretty cool and that's the way it's supposed to be,'" said Busch. "But you can't get too wrapped up in the numbers that show up in your favor.

"We've already seen that the double-file restarts can go either way - they can be a big boost or they can really work against you in the battling to get a good finish," said Busch, the 2004 champion during the inaugural year of the Chase format. "Probably the two best examples of one extreme to the other for our team this season were the most recent races at Bristol and Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway).

"We had problems in the pits at Bristol and almost went a lap down," Busch recalled. "We were 22nd with 30 laps to go and made the best of it. We had a couple of cautions down to the finish that helped us get a seventh-place finish out of that one.

"But, just look at the end of the Loudon race (the Sept. 20 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway) and you can see how it can work against you. Our strategy was paying off and we were pretty much settled in finishing second to Mark (Martin, eventual winner). We were running about three seconds behind him when the final pit stops cycled around. We were running a little faster lap times, but there weren't enough laps to overtake him for the win. We had a sure second-place finish going, but the caution came out, bunched us all up together again and our second turned into a sixth almost in an instant.

"That's what you face with the double-file restarts and we just have to go in there expecting and accepting whatever the outcome may be," said Busch. "You hope for the best, but you know it can bite you. The biggest puzzle that fits into the equation has been whether you start in the inside lane or the outside lane. Is the inside lane better? Is the outside lane better? You don't get to choose unless you're the leader. You're stuck on the inside or the outside and you have to make the best of it."

Busch enters this weekend's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway hoping to make the best of the double-file restart scenario. He certainly thinks the track offers one of the least volatile situations of the eight races remaining in the 2009 "Chase" to the points title. (Please see chart that follows.)

"It's a track that I gave the inside lane as preferable and rated it in the least treacherous on the list, for what it's worth," said Busch. "None of these tracks are easy these days, but I really expect fewer problems this week at Kansas than at the majority of the remainder of the races."

This weekend's schedule at Kansas Speedway begins on Friday with practice from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. CDT. Friday's 3:40 p.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday's 43-car starting field. Saturday's schedule offers practice sessions from 11:30 a.m. till 12; 15 p.m. and from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday's Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. CDT starting time and features live coverage by ABC-TV and MRN Radio.

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KURT BUSCH TRACK RANKINGS (PREDICTIONS) FOR REMAINDER OF 2009 RACES

-2004 Champion Dissects Remainder Of 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule Races-

Date & Location Preferred Line (Inside or Outside) Degree of Treacherousness

October 4 - Kansas Inside *

October 11 - Fontana Inside * *

October 17 - Charotte (Lowe's) Inside * * *

October 25 - Martinsville Inside * * * * *

November 1 - Talladega Undecided *

November 8 - Texas Inside * * *

November 15 - Phoenix Outside * * * *

November 22 - Homestead Outside * * *

* Low-level intensity - easy to get through with little contact and anger

* * Intensity there - but you still question whether inside is right

* * * Tough race track for guys to get single-file and you just pray you're in best lane

* * * * Inside lane may be preferred, but it's tough with track conditions changing

* * * * * The big wildcard -- depending on track on race day.