Busch Ready to Tackle 'Tempermental' Charlotte Track
October 12, 2011
Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-750" Pennzoil Ultra Dodge Charger this weekend in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It has proven to be among the strongest intermediate track cars in the Penske stable. Busch debuted this car in the Coca-Cola 600 at CMS with a fourth-place finish. In the car's only other outing, Busch drove it from a 10th-place start to a fourth-place finish last month at Atlanta. "It has been a great car for this type of track in the two times we've raced it," said crew chief Addington. "In both of the races, we were our strongest in the final third of the race. We're looking for another solid run with this Pennzoil Ultra Dodge this Saturday night at Charlotte."
No. 22 Pennzoil Ultra Dodge driver Kurt Busch returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway hoping to continue his recent run of good fortune on the "temperamental" 1.5-mile quad-oval track. "We ran strong so many times in so many races, but just were not able to put the whole race together," said Busch. "We'd start out strong and look like we were headed to a good finish, but couldn't keep up with the changing track conditions and fall off drastically in the last half of the race. That's where Steve Addington has been so impactful. We may not have qualified up front in all the races, but we've been able to make steady progress throughout each race and come out our strongest at the end when it counted the most."
For the second year in a row, George Larrabee, who drives the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team transporter along with Greg Sorber, is a finalist in the annual Freightliner Trucks "Run Smart Hauler Challenge." Larabee will be competing for the grand prize and coveted steering wheel trophy on Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. on pit road at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"It's a huge honor to represent Penske Racing and everyone on our No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team in Thursday's finals," said Larrabee. "We finished second at Kansas last weekend and made the ‘Final Four' to advance to Charlotte's last round. We really will treasure the achievement if we can bring the championship home for Penske and our ‘Double-Deuce' team."
Each year during the NASCAR season, Freightliner Trucks hosts the Run Smart Hauler Challenge open to all full-time NASCAR hauler drivers in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. This timed skills competition features specially designed courses that test drivers in their haulers with tight turns, backing drills and other cone and barrel obstacles. In addition to competing for bragging rights, the hauler drivers also have their eye on the $30,000 grand prize.
"The Freightliner Hauler Challenge solidifies our commitment to NASCAR, as well as the individual race teams," said Stacey Premo, Motorsports Marketing Manager for Freightliner Trucks. "The hauler drivers in this sport are the best of the best and we are proud to have them driving Freightliner tractors. The hauler drivers represent Freightliner, our products and their team every weekend as they drive from one race track to the next. Freightliner is the Official Hauler of NASCAR, and a proud sponsor of the Penske Racing Organization."
Don't forget...Pennzoil's "Join the Pursuit" sweepstakes, which provides consumers the opportunity to win a Penske Racing-inspired 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8® 392, in addition to over 150 other prizes. The special edition 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 is the first of its kind and has been modified and enhanced with numerous performance upgrades from Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) Group. The Penske Racing-inspired Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 will have more than 470 horsepower and will have Pennzoil UltraTM in its engine. The "Join the Pursuit" sweepstakes kicks off September 1 and runs through October 31, 2011, culminating with one lucky entrant driving away the Dodge Challenger grand prize, along with other available prizes including Shell Gift Cards and Pennzoil/Penske Racing merchandise. For official rules and additional information about the sweepstakes, including how to enter, and additional details about the full line of Pennzoil products, visit www.pennzoil.com .
CONCORD, N.C. (October 11, 2011) - With 22 career races at Charlotte Motor Speedway under his belt entering this weekend's Bank of America 500, No. 22 Pennzoil Ultra Dodge driver Kurt Busch has certainly experienced the good, the bad and the ugly there. If there is any driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing who can attest to CMS being the circuit's most temperamental track, you don't have to look any further than the 2004 series champion.
"Yes, we've definitely experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows through the years at Charlotte," said Busch, who is now sixth in the point standings after finishing 13th in last Sunday's battle at Kansas Speedway. "The great thing for our Penske Racing Dodge Team is that the majority of our success has come over the last few years."
So, what has been the big "difference-maker" for Busch?
"It's been Steve Addington," Busch said of the veteran crew chief who joined the team at the beginning of the 2010 season and who will be calling the shots for the 67th time for Busch in this weekend's race. "It's been his addition, his setup. It's just the feel and the confidence that he's given me when he started making changes on the car. It taught me things that I didn't even know about Charlotte Motor Speedway. It's been a whole different game since I've had him."
Busch's career record on the 1.5-mile Charlotte quad-oval boasts one win, five top-five finishes and six top-10s. Along the way, he has experienced the good such as the incredible May stretch he enjoyed last year when he won both the Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. He's endured the bad such as the May 2007 race, where he qualified his best yet (second) and led 107 laps before falling to a 32nd-place finish. And there has been the ugly, represented by the three different races he has crashed out of.
How much has Addington brought to Busch's CMS table? In only three races together, Busch has scored his only win there and two of those five top-five finishes. He has led more than half (255 of 495 laps, or 51.5 percent) of the total laps he's led at CMS in just those three races.
"We ran strong so many times in so many races, but just were not able to put the whole race together," said Busch, who finished fourth in May's Coca-Cola 600 at CMS. "We'd start out strong and look like we were headed to a good finish, but couldn't keep up with the changing track conditions and fall off drastically in the last half of the race.
"That's where Steve has been so impactful," said Busch, who has won four points races with Addington leading his team and finished in the top-10 in exactly 50 percent (33 of 66) of the races entering Charlotte this weekend. "We may not have qualified up front in all the races, but we've been able to make steady progress throughout each race and come out our strongest at the end when it counted the most."
So what does Busch expect in this Saturday night's Bank of America 500, his 23rd career start at CMS?
"Are you kidding?" Busch asked with a chuckle. "It's the same old challenging race track. She's the same old temperamental girl. We hope to qualify well and get a good spot on pit road. We look to execute like we need to. But most of all, we hope to be able to adapt and make the necessary adjustments through the race like we have to. We have to stay on top of the changing track conditions and what it calls for chassis-wise."
With his racing career chock full of success on the short tracks, what's with Busch's winning on the intermediate tracks...and this year's win on a road course (Infineon Raceway) and a one-mile, high-banked concrete track (Dover)?
"There's just a lot of times when you go through a streak at certain style tracks," said 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 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."
Coming into the Charlotte battle this weekend, Busch realizes his position in the Chase standings, but points to maintaining focus on the business at hand.
"You have to focus on your own team and make sure that your guys have every area of it covered as far as pit stops, downforce, engine department, you name it...you have to be solid...and that's what we're looking for this weekend at Charlotte," said Busch. "I don't see college football teams winning championships because they slipped into it. It's because they had the effort there all year long to be a top-notched program. That's what we have to be."
Busch, Addington and the "Double-Deuce" team are scheduled to race their "PRS-750" Dodge Charger this weekend at Charlotte. It has proven to be among the strongest intermediate track cars in the Penske stable. Busch debuted this car in the Coca-Cola 600 at CMS with a fourth-place finish. In the car's only other outing, Busch drove it from a 10th-place start to a fourth-place finish last month at Atlanta.
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 4:30 p.m. till 5:15 p.m. and from 5:50 p.m. till 6:50 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.
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