Busch Ready for 400th Career Start in Miami Finale

November 16, 2011

SPECIAL NOTE: Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will be making his 400th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race start in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "That's a lot of races and I hope there are many more races and wins to come," said Busch, who has won at least one race every season since 2002 (10 consecutive years). "We've been at it on a full-time basis since 2001 and I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have had along the way."

In Busch's 399 career Sprint Cup races entering his 400th start on Sunday, his record boasts 24 wins (6%), 88 top-five finishes (22%) and 169 top-10 finishes (42%). He has 15 career poles. Busch has a 15.6 career average start and a 16.9 career average finish. He has been running at the finish in 355 (89%) of the races and finished on the lead lap in 249 (62%) of the races.

SPECIAL NOTE: Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch and girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, made the hour-and-a-half helicopter ride over open water Monday to visit one of Shell Oil Company's largest and newest oil rig platforms - "BRUTUS." Brutus is Shell's newest TLP rig and is located 165 miles southwest of New Orleans in 2,985 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. The visit was geared to give Busch a better understanding and knowledge of Shell exploration and development business, particularly in deepwater drilling. He was certainly impressed.

"What an experience! It was one of those situations where you go in not knowing exactly what to expect and once you get out there, the "wow factor" kicks in," said Busch. "I have a whole new appreciation for how technology gets oil out of the ground. I also have tremendous respect for the incredible teamwork we witnessed out there. The camaraderie that Shell has on Brutus reminds me a lot of what it takes to make up a championship-caliber racing team. Everyone out there is the best at what they do and they work so cohesively in getting the job done. We were able to enjoy lunch with all the workers and signed autographs for them. They busted my chops by presenting me with a Shell Saver gas card, as if I don't have one of my own by now. It was a really fun time out there. Patricia and I are very grateful to have had the opportunity to make the special visit." Busch posted images of the visit on Twitter and they can be accessed by following this link: http://yfrog.com/hswcuxpj

Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led No. 22 Penske Racing Team will be racing the "PRS-759" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend's Ford 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This will mark the initial outing for Busch, Addington and crew with this chassis. However, it is the same chassis that Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski put into Victory Lane by winning the Aug. 7 Good Sam RV 500 at Pocono Raceway. Carrying the No. 2 Miller Lite colors, Keselowski started 13th and led two times for 19 laps in claiming that big win. It came after Keselowski had broken his ankle in a testing crash at Road Atlanta on Wednesday of that week. "The car we had last weekend at Phoenix was one that the No. 2 team had raced before and it looked like we had a winning car before we ran out of fuel," crew chief ‘Addington offered. "The car for this weekend is already a proven winner. We're looking to give it a return visit to Winners' Circle there at Homestead on Sunday."

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger driver Kurt Busch will be making his 400th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in Sunday's Ford 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. To say that the 2004 series champ has a lot on the line in the final race weekend on the 2011 season would be a huge understatement.

"There is still a lot of unfinished business we need to take care of out there, that's for sure," said Busch, the championship winner in the introductory year of the Chase format eight seasons ago. "With everything from the battle for the most Coors Light Poles to getting one of the top-10 spots in the final points still up for grabs, there really is much left to be determined this weekend at Homestead.

"As if it's not already really important enough to close out your season on a positive note, when you throw all the other aspects into the mix, it certainly revs up the ‘wanna get it done meter,'" said Busch. "They're telling me that Sunday's race will be my 400th career Sprint Cup start, too, so you've gotta look at it being a little personal historical value there this weekend, too."

While all eyes will be focused on the two-man battle between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart for this year's points title, the weekend's competition actually begins falling into place with Friday's opening practice scheduled from 3:00 p.m. till 4:20 p.m. The practice speeds from that session create the qualifying order for Saturday's 2:40 p.m. time trial session to award the Coors Light Pole Award. The slowest driver in Friday's first practice will take to the track first with the session advancing to see the fastest driver making his run against the clock last.

Entering the Homestead finale, there is a four-way tie for the most Coors Light Pole Awards this season. The winner of the most poles will earn a $100,000 check from Coors Light. The award will be presented at the Myers Brothers Luncheon during Champions Week in Las Vegas. Busch, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth enter the weekend with three poles each. If one of those drivers claims the pole on Saturday, he wins the award. If someone other than those four is the fastest qualifier, the big bonus will be determined by the Sprint Cup point standings.

"We really want to win the Coors Light Pole and take the big check from MillerCoors," said Busch, who has won two career poles at Homestead-Miami Speedway (in 2002 and 2004). "The MillerCoors guys are like family to us, with Miller Lite being my sponsor for five seasons and continuing to sponsor Brad (Keselowski, Penske Racing teammate) and the ‘Blue Deuce Dodge.' There's nothing more we'd like to do than keep those dollars in-house."

Sunday's battle will be as intense as it gets in the professional sports world. Only three points separate leader Edwards and second-place Stewart. But the battle for the 2011 championship trophy is not the only prize to be determined. Pride, prestige and post-season bonus monies are all also on the line. The new NASCAR points system awards one point for each position in the finishing order. It could be the recipe for a race remembered as the most exciting - and possibly most controversial-- in the sport's history.

Perhaps as strong as the battle for the championship will be the contest to finish among the top 10 in the final point standings and make it on the stage at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. Only the top-10 drivers in the points have the opportunity to take to the stage, thank their sponsors and talk about the successful seasons they've had during the festivities set for Friday, Dec. 2 at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

Currently only 10 points separate seventh-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2,257 points) and 11th-place Jeff Gordon (2,247). In between them are Kurt Busch (2,252), Ryan Newman (2,252) and Denny Hamlin (2,249). One of those five drivers will likely join Kyle Busch as the two competitors who made the Chase this season, yet did not get the opportunity to take to the stage. The younger Busch, forced to sit out the Texas race two weeks ago, is currently 12th in the standings with 2,224 points.

"We're coming in there tied for eighth in the points and really need to finish up the season in the top 10 in the standings," said Busch. "Only the top-10 drivers get stage time at the banquet out in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. It would be a cool deal and very appropriate if we have the opportunity to take to the stage and publicly thank all our sponsors. We're celebrating our first season with Shell-Pennzoil as our major sponsor and we've had a very successful year. We would love to have the opportunity to get up there and thank Shell-Pennzoil, AAA and all of our other great sponsors for all of their support.

"In addition to that, I really know from experience the importance of finishing your season off on a high note," said Busch. "As much as we race and because there's so little time off during the season, the weeks tend to roll on from one track's schedule right into the next race along the tour.

"The winner celebrates on Sunday night, but the clock rolls back almost immediately because you're already busy preparing for the next race that's only a couple of days away," said Busch, who has made six of the eight Chase battles to date. "So when you look at that period in between the closing of one season till the opening of the next, that's a long time to think about it.

"Your last race out is the one that's freshest on your mind and you certainly hope it's memorable for all the right reasons," Busch continued. "Closing out your season with a competitive weekend at Homestead is just that important. If you come out of there with great results, it gives all the team members, the sponsors, the media - everyone out there - a super calling card to remember you by. It works to instill optimism and grow the level of confidence through all those cold and dreary winter days."

In Busch's 399 career Sprint Cup races entering his 400th start on Sunday, his record boasts 24 wins (6%), 88 top-five finishes (22%) and 169 top-10 finishes (42%). He has 15 career poles. Busch has a 15.6 career average start and a 16.9 career average finish. He has been running at the finish in 355 (89%) of the races and finished on the lead lap in 249 (62%) of the races.

Friday's practice from 3:00 p.m. till 4:20 p.m. kicks off this weekend's action at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The final practice is scheduled for Friday from 6:05 p.m. till 7:25 p.m. The entire 43-car starting field will be established in Saturday's qualifying session that begins at 2:40 p.m. Sunday's Ford 400 (400 miles, 267 laps) has a scheduled 3:00 p.m. EST starting time on the 1.5-mile speed plant located at the north end of the Florida Keys. ESPN-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.
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