Busch Looks For First Road Course Win at Infineon

June 22, 2011

NEWS FLASH!!! Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch is doing a weekly blog for the ESPN Chicago web site (www.espnchicago.com). Although the blog is listed as "Motorsports," Busch will focus on all Chicago sports. Busch, known for his love of the Chicago Cubs, is looking forward to doing his weekly reports. "We're gonna have a lot of fun with it," said Busch, whose family relocated to Las Vegas from the western suburbs of Chicago. "If you log on thinking it's just gonna be about racing, you are gonna be surprised. We will be discussing most all Chicago teams and sports." Busch's first entry can be found by following this link: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/motorsports

Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double Deuce" will be debuting their brand new "PRS-742" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger at Infineon Raceway this weekend. "We had the car up at VIR last week giving it a final shakedown," crew chief Addington said of the June 14 test date on the sprawling 3.27-mile Virginia International Raceway layout located near Danville, Va. "Kurt is a great road racer and it's a mystery that he has yet to win a Cup race on a road course. We're on a mission to help him get the win out there in the California Wine Country this weekend."

SONOMA, Calif. (June 21, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch enters this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway still in quest of his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup road course victory after 20 starts in road course competition to date. Busch says that he feels his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double-Deuce" team is closing in on that elusive victory.

"We've definitely had some chances of winning on the road courses in the Cup cars through the years," said Busch, who is currently tied for sixth in points and is going after his fourth consecutive Coors Light Pole Award this weekend at Sonoma. "We started third and had a strong top-five run going at Sonoma (Infineon) last year before the late-race run-in. We came back and really threatened for the win last August at Watkins Glen. To race with (Juan Pablo) Montoya and (Marcos) Ambrose like we did there was definitely a confidence-builder. Those two guys come from a different world when it comes to road course racing. We got by Ambrose at the end and were closing in on Montoya.

"I really do feel like we're closing in on getting that first Cup road course win," said Busch. "They don't give you anything out there; you have to scratch and claw and earn everything you get. I've seen our team continue to make progress and if we continue to get ourselves in the position to win, we're bound to capitalize on it sooner or later. Hopefully, we can continue that progress at Sonoma (Infineon) on Sunday and finally win us one of these things."

In Busch's 20 career road course starts to date, he has four top-five finishes and seven 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 10.1 and average finish of 19.0 in those 20 races. He has been running at the finish in 18 of the races and finished on the lead lap 16 times. In his 10 races at Infineon Raceway, Busch has three top-five finishes and three top-10s. He has a 10.5 average start and a 20.0 average finish.

Busch recently participated in a special "Q & A session" regarding this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Here is the transcript:

Q: In the past three years at Infineon, there have been three veteran drivers who won their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road race - Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson. Are more drivers preparing harder now than in the past to compete on road courses?

A: "It has gotten to be that there is so much focus on the road course races, that's for sure. In the decade that I've been in the sport, I have witnessed most teams attack the road course races with a full-court press attitude. The teams have special cars for those races, drivers go to the road course driving schools and some of the smaller teams hire road course ‘ringers' to come in and run those races only. I haven't won a Cup race on the road courses yet and it's certainly a goal to add our name to the list of winners. Our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team will test at Road Atlanta and at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) in our preparation this season. At the end of the day, the road course races pay the same amount of points and teams are preparing all they possibly can for those races."

Q: Jeff Gordon won at Infineon five times between 1998 and 2006. The past six years there have been six different winners. How much more competitive and unpredictable has the race become?

A: "Man, I am liking this even more and more hearing stats like that. It sounds like it's building up to maybe finally being our time to win one of these races. Six different winners? I know that strategy and pit work have really risen to the top in importance. Overall, what I've see most of the time is a situation where the strongest teams for a particular road course weekend come in and unload fast. They qualify up front, get the good work in the pits they need and are there battling for the win at the end. We hope to be that team this time around."

Q: With so many turns and so few easy places to pass at Infineon, the race typically has lots of bumping and contact, similar to a short-track race only with twists. Do you just prepare yourself for that kind of race, along with the probability of some angry drivers?

A: "I'd say that's a pretty fair assessment. There is a lot of beating and banging. I got crashed by Jimmie Johnson two years ago out there and Jeff Gordon got us last year. As the laps wind down, everybody is scratching and scraping for every spot you can get. This time around, there's probably no other track where the new points system will weigh on your mind like it will there. When it gets down to those last few laps, you can really look at it as picking up a point for each and every car you can get by and put into your rear-view mirror."

Q: What do you like most about road-course racing in general and specifically at Infineon? It appears to demand a lot from drivers, physically and mentally.

A: "I get those questions quite often and my immediate response is to joke that I like the opportunity to go somewhere and make some right-hand turns in addition to all the lefts. It usually draws a chuckle, but it really is the truth. As many oval tracks as we race on, it really is a nice change of pace to race on a road course. It is a great challenge that I enjoy - all the shifting gears and braking you have to do. There's quite a bit of mental demand in keeping cool and focused and trying to anticipate what the guys around you are going to do. With the right and left turns, you do get an upper body workout, too."

Q: What are the keys to winning at Infineon? How important is patience?

A: "Patience is certainly a huge part of it, but I think it goes back to what I said. You need to come there fully prepared and be competitive from the time you unload. Qualifying up front is really important; not only because you want to start in front of the other competitors, but it also allows you to get the premium pitting positions on pit road for the race. My theory has always been stay focused and stay on the track while you move forward. Get a good rhythm going. Set them up to make your move underneath entering Turn 11 because that is the major