CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 12, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is heading into Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway looking for a boost in his bid to claim the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup title, while at the same time hoping to become the first driver to ever win all three Cup races in the same year at Charlotte.
"It's certainly flattering to hear all the names of the racing legends who swept the May races and now be among that group," said Busch, whose Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" team claimed the win in the May 22 Sprint All Star Race and came back the following week to claim the victory in the May 30 Coca-Cola 600 on the 1.5-mile quad-oval track. "It's quite amazing. To hear the names and to be able to try to do the Charlotte sweep, I would have assumed that Jimmie Johnson had two or three sweeps at the Charlotte track over the years, Dale Sr., of course, Waltrip, Petty. It's really a neat fraternity of guys to be part of.
"To have my shot at it here in 2010, we're definitely going to give it all we've got," said Busch, who holds down the sixth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points, trailing leader Johnson by 140 points with six races remaining this season. "The best part about it is if we're able to do that and pull it off, that only helps us for our chances for the championship this season. At the end of the day, yes we are coming in there trying to carve a little special spot in our sport's record book, but the most important thing for our Miller Lite Dodge Team is to come out of there with a quality finish on Saturday night."
Entering the 2010 season, Busch's career statistics at Charlotte were surely no basis to believe he could display the prowess he did during the May races. In eight prior All Star races, Busch had scored three top-five finishes and had a 12.1 average finish after experiencing three DNFs. In nine prior starts in the 600, Busch had yet to post a single top-five or top-10 finish.
"We struggled for so many years running under the lights at Charlotte and what a
great turnaround we had there back in May," said Busch. "Much of that credit is due to my crew chief Steve Addington and all the great knowledge and ideas he has infused into to our 'blue deuce' team.
"There's just a lot of times when you go through a streak at certain style tracks," added Busch. "I won it in New Hampshire and Phoenix four or five years ago when it looked like we really had those flat one-mile tracks all figured out. And this has been a new streak that has hit us over the last few years. The mile-and-a-half tracks have been very good to us; with the success we've enjoyed at Atlanta, at Texas and now at Charlotte.
"We're coming back to Charlotte hoping to be able to continue to flex some muscle on the intermediate-sized tracks," said Busch. "Getting a solid finish, a strong top-five or at least a top-10, that's the most important goal for this weekend. But when the dust has settled there on Saturday night, it'd be one of the greatest accomplishments I could ever experience to be standing there in Victory Lane with another Charlotte Motor Speedway winner's trophy."
The NASCAR All Star Race debuted at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1985 and since then only six other drivers have had the opportunity to claim the three-race sweep. Here is a brief review of those seasons (courtesy of CMS PR):
- 1985: Darrell Waltrip was the first to strike out. After winning the inaugural NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 on back-to-back days, Waltrip finished 14th in the October race, three laps behind winner Ken Schrader.
- 1991: Davey Allison ended up just one position short of winning all three races. The second-generation sensation dominated the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and led 264 of the 400 laps en route to victory in the Coca-Cola 600. But his No. 28 Ford was in second place, 11.31 seconds behind Geoffrey Bodine when the fall classic came to a close.
- 1993: NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt was the next to take a shot. Earnhardt swept around Mark Martin on a late-race restart to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and then led 154 laps on his way to victory in the Coca-Cola 600. Driving Robert Yates' No. 28 Ford, Ernie Irvan dominated the Bank of America 500 with Earnhardt settling for third in Richard Childress' No. 3 Chevrolet.
- 1997: Dale Jarrett spoiled Jeff Gordon's only opportunity to score the triple. Gordon drove the legendary No. 24 Chevrolet known as T-Rex to victory in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and then edged Rusty Wallace to claim the Coca-Cola 600 trophy. Gordon started fourth in the 500, but could do not better than fifth as Jarrett and Bobby Labonte battled at the front of the pack before Jarrett took the win.
- 2003: Jimmie Johnson became the first to earn more than $1 million for winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and went on to earn his first of three consecutive Coca-Cola 600s. In the Bank of America 500, however, Johnson never led during the last half of the race and ended up third behind Tony Stewart and second-place finisher Ryan Newman.
- 2008: Kasey Kahne was the most recent driver to have the chance at the triple. After being voted in to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race by the fans, Kahne won the event, followed by a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 when he took over the race lead with just two laps to go. Kahne came close to securing the unprecedented Charlotte Motor Speedway triple, but came up one position short with a second-place finish to winner Jeff Burton in the Bank of America 500 in October.
"The two consecutive winning weekends we had at Charlotte back in May will always stand out as some of the most memorable weekends of my career," Busch said. "Man, to make it a clean sweep at Charlotte in one season would be something I'd be proud of the rest of my career. Heck, it'd be something I could brag about to my children and grandchildren many years from now...how cool!"
This weekend's schedule at Charlotte Motor Speedway begins on Thursday with practice from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. Qualifying is set for 7:10 p.m. and will determine all 43 starting positions for Saturday's race. Friday's schedule calls for practice sessions from 5:00 p.m. till 5:45 p.m. and from 6:20 p.m. till 7:20 p.m. Saturday's Bank of America 500 (334 laps/501 miles) has a scheduled 7:30 p.m. ET starting time, with ABC-TV and PRN Radio providing live coverage of all the action.