Kurt Busch Wants Another Solid Performance at Dover
September 27, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Autostock
DOVER, Del. (Sept. 27, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch returns to Dover International Speedway for this weekend's "AAA 400" NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race hoping a recent trend continues for his Steve Addington-led "Double Deuce" Penske Team. The likelihood of that occurring is extremely high, especially considering that Dover was the site of Busch's best finish of the 10 Chase races last season.
"It was kind of strange how things shook out in last year's Chase," offered Busch, currently ninth in the point standings after a frustrating race day last Sunday at Loudon, N.H., where he finished 22nd. "I actually went into the final 10 races of the season pointing to the Dover race as perhaps our biggest hurdle of them all. We were able to pull out a fourth in that race and it turned out to be our best finish during the Chase.
"We've seen that type of situation carry over this season, too," said Busch, who is currently 28 points behind standings' leader Tony Stewart with eight races remaining to determine the 2011 Sprint Cup Series title-holder. "It's pretty neat that we've been able to do so well on the atypical tracks – at the tracks and in the races where we haven't had that great of finishes in the past.
"When you look at the most success we've had this season compared to all the previous years, it is a good feeling to see the wins we had back in Daytona during Speed Weeks," said Busch, who won the Budweiser Shootout and 150-mile qualifying race before finishing fifth in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway back in February. "And who would ever think that our big win so far this year would come on the road course out in Sonoma. It's cool to see that our strength has grown at Penske Racing to be able to be that competitive in those races.
"Who knows? This might just be our time to shine at Dover, too." Busch added. "We just really need another solid performance there this weekend, that's for sure."
Crew chief Addington also picked up on that theme: "I'm really proud of the growth and improvement this Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team has shown," he said. "Our restrictor-plate program is among the best out there and everyone has come to see that Kurt is one of the best plate-racing drivers in the sport. His performances at Daytona back in February finally put the numbers in the record book.
"I think most people have seen Kurt's progress on the road courses, especially during the last three years or so, and they knew it was only a matter of time before he won a race at Sonoma or Watkins Glen. We got it done back in June at Sonoma.
"Probably as impressive as anything I've seen that has us pumped up for the rest of the season was what happened at Chicago," said Addington. "It had been one of our toughest tracks on the schedule and we came in there and dominated before having the problems."
Addington is referring to the team's run in the GEICO 400 two weeks ago. Busch entered that race with no wins and no top-five finishes in 10 previous races. He had a 22.1 average start and an 18.1 average finish. In the Sept. 19 race, Busch started third and finished sixth. He led the most laps (64 of his total 67 career laps led on the track) during the race and was a contender for the win until a mechanical issue saw his Dodge lose important front downforce.
"You know, then we go to Loudon last weekend expecting to do really well with the brand new car," said Addington, "and it just didn't work out that way. It has been a really strange season and we are working as hard as we can to be as strong as we can everywhere.
"Like I said after Sunday's race, the good thing is that we have so many really good tracks left during the final eight races. When you look to see that we've performed extremely well on the tracks we historically haven't run very well on, we all know this thing is long from being over. We have two months of racing left and there's plenty of time to get back up to the top. We think this week's race at Dover is the next step in doing that."
Busch certainly knows what to expect entering this weekend's return to Dover.
"You have to stay on top of the handling situation all race long and that's such a challenge – at least it has been for us through the years," said Busch. "The track gets rubbered in and your car just gets tighter and tighter. Track position is always important and the fast pit stops and strategy from pit road is a must in getting you that. I mean you have to have raw speed but being able to adjust on the car during the race is so key."
In 22 career races at Dover, Busch is still looking for his first win, but he has five top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He has a 10.9 average start and an 18.7 average finish. He has led a total of 328 of the 8,164 he has completed (of 8,804 possible = 92.731 percent). He has finished all the laps in 17 of his races and finished on the lead lap in 10 of the races.
Busch, Addington and the "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-758" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge this weekend at Dover. This chassis has been raced only once before; in the August 7 race at Pocono. In that race, Busch qualified fifth and led four times for a total of 38 laps en route to a third-place finish. The race will be remembered most, perhaps, for the exciting last-lap battle for third between Busch and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson. The "PRS-746" (last raced in May's Sprint "All Star" Race at Charlotte) will serve as the backup Dodge Charger this weekend at Dover.
This weekend's Dover International Speedway action gets under way on Friday with practices set from 11:00 a.m. till 12:25 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 2:40 p.m. till 4:15 p.m. (live on ESPN-2). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Saturday at 1:40 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Sunday's "AAA 400" (400 laps, 400 miles) on the "Monster Mile" is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 2:00 p.m. EDT. Race No. 28 of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by ESPN-TV and MRN Radio.