Penske Racing

Busch Knows Smallest Track Can Offer Biggest Challenge

October 27, 2011

Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led No. 22 Penske Racing Team will be racing the "PRS-755" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. This will be the first race for the "Double-Deuce" team with this chassis. However, teammate Brad Keselowski drove this car, dressed in the Miller Lite No. 2 colors, to a sixth-place finish from a 14th-place start in the Sept. 4 Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch has never tried to hide the fact that Martinsville Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour's smallest track, continues to present one of his biggest challenges. He says he is returning to the picturesque Henry County, Va., track with a lot of confidence and a positive attitude for this weekend's TUMS Bring It On 500. He credits crew chief Steve Addington for a positive turn over the last few races there. "I'll be the first to admit that the Martinsville races have always been so challenging to me and that goes all the way back through my career," said Busch. "But ever since Steve Addington came aboard as our crew chief at the beginning of last season, things have really began to turn for the better. Steve deserves so much credit for rallying the troops every week and having our team's confidence level up for all of these races. I told him when he first joined the team that Martinsville was a weak track for me personally and he vowed back then that we'd work hard together in changing that. I think we've already made so much progress, but it's a case of the numbers just not showing that."

Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Steve Addington will be serving as Kurt Busch's team leader for his 69th points-paying race this weekend at Martinsville. He says his advice for Busch is quite simple. "The biggest thing I've tried to stress to Kurt about racing at Martinsville is to keep his cool, stay focused and hang in there and keep plugging away," said Addington, who has as much experience on the bullrings of the Southeast as anyone in the business. "It's a 500-lap race and you have to be running at the finish to have a shot at the win or a solid finish up front. It's a place that puts a premium on patience like no other track we race on. The way our season has gone, you just never know. One thing for sure is that there's still a full month of racing left and we'll be out there scratching and clawing for everything we can get."



MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 25, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will be competing in his 23rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the demanding paper-clip shaped .526-mile Martinsville Speedway in Sunday's TUMS Bring It On 500. With more than 11 season's worth of racing experience there, the 2004 series champion is quick to point out that the circuit's smallest track presents one of his biggest hurdles.

"The most challenging thing for me is everything," said Busch, who enters Martinsville ranked eighth in the points and trailing leader Carl Edwards by 52 points with four races remaining to determine the 2011 champion. "A lot of guys say forward bite (is the biggest challenge), getting that traction off the corner. They say not burning up the brakes is important. For me, all of the above are important. I usually end up burning up the brakes and burning up the rear tires.

"It's just a tough parking-lot-style of racing," said Busch. "You're racing on a flat surface on the straightaways and all the way through the corners. You just stay so hard on the brakes into the corners that you don't know when you're gonna slide over that edge of how you need to be running. I seem to almost always heat up my front brakes too much there and they lose the grip we need towards the end of the race. Most of the time, we still have plenty of rear brake left as the race concludes and that really tends to create a loose handling situation.

"You're all on top of one another for the whole race, with cars behind you and in front of you ramming and jamming and beating and banging," said Busch. "It's so tough on the drivers and the teams. You can have one slow pit stop and find yourself falling from the top-five all the way back to 25th. You get mired up in the traffic and it's so difficult to pass. You can do a complete tire run and maybe only make up half the positions that you lost earlier. Everyone has to be on top of their game just about for the entire race in order to excel there."

In 22 career starts, Busch has one victory, two top-five finishes and four top-10s on his Martinsville career resume. He won the Coors Light Pole Award for the October 2006 race. He has a 19.5 average start and a 21.1 average finish. He has been running at the finish in 21 of the races and completed all the laps in nine races.

"We've run very well there through the years, but you wouldn't know that by just looking at the statistics," said Busch. "The biggest thing is that it's been seldom that we've been able to put together a whole race at Martinsville. We'd start out strong and not be able to get the good finishes we needed. Many times we've been strong enough to win a 400-lap race there, but the problem is that Martinsville races are 500-lappers, not 400.

"We're coming back into Martinsville with a lot of confidence and a really positive attitude about racing there this weekend," said Busch. "I'll be the first to admit that the Martinsville races have always been so challenging to me and that goes all the way back through my career. But ever since Steve Addington came aboard as our crew chief, things have really begun to turn for the better.

"Steve deserves so much credit for rallying the troops every week and having our team's confidence level up for all of these races," Busch said of the veteran crew chief who will serve as his team leader for the 69th points-paying race this weekend at Martinsville. " I told him when he first joined the team that Martinsville was a weak track for me personally and he vowed back then that we'd work hard together in changing that. I think we've already made so much progress, but it's a case of the numbers just not showing that.

"I guess he could see that if there was an Achilles' heel in the mix of tracks for me, it was this track. He's been really helpful in our positive attitude adjustment during the races we've been together racing there so far. He has been able to bring the best cars I've driven at Martinsville and has our team really prepared for those races. We're thinking this may be our time to shine and we'll be able to come out of there with the best finish we've had there in years."

"The biggest thing I've tried to stress to Kurt about racing at Martinsville is to keep his cool, stay focused and hang in there and keep plugging away," said Addington, who has as much experience on the bullrings of the Southeast as anyone in the business. "It's a 500-lap race and you have to be running at the finish to have a shot at the win or a solid finish up front. It's a place that puts a premium on patience like no other track we race on.

"The way our season has gone, you just never know," said Addington. "One thing for sure is that there's still a full month of racing left and we'll be out there scratching and clawing for everything we can get."

Busch, Addington and crew will be racing the "PRS-755" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. This will be the first race for the "Double-Deuce" team with this chassis. However, teammate Brad Keselowski drove this car, dressed in the Miller Lite No. 2 colors, to a sixth-place finish from a 14th-place start in the Sept. 4 Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

This weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule at Martinsville Speedway gets under way with Friday's practices from 12:30 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. (live on SPEED-TV). Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's 500-lap battle is set for Saturday at 12:10 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV). Sunday's TUMS Bring It On 500 has a scheduled 1:30 p.m. local (EDT) starting time at the 0.526-mile flat track with tricky inside curbing in the corners. ESPN-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.


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