Kurt Busch Ready for Phoenix and His 300th Cup Series Start

April 14, 2009

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 13, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will be making his 300th career start in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in Saturday's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The 2004 series champion and 19-race winner is hoping to make his monumental race a very memorable one.

"It's pretty hard to believe that I'll be taking the green flag for the 300th Cup race of my career there in Phoenix on Saturday night," said Busch, who will also be making his 13th career Phoenix big-league start in the race. "It's certainly true that time passes by so fast. We're hoping to make such a huge personally historical race a memorable one and for all the right reasons.

"I can't think of any track that would be more appropriate for us to be celebrating our 300th race than out in the desert at PIR," said Busch. "There are just so many reasons for me saying that. It's really cool that's the way it turned out, that we'd be running in such a significant race during my career on the Phoenix track.

"From a competition standpoint, it's great to be coming in there with a lot of momentum we've built so far this season, but also riding a promising wave that we've enjoyed on the flat one-mile race tracks recently," said Busch, who won the first-ever April night race held on the track back in 2005. "We started third and finished second in the most-recent race there last November. It was, without a doubt, the most solid overall weekend that we had during the entire 2008 schedule.

"So far this season, we've proven to be competitive on the mile-and-a-half intermediate tracks and we know we have some work to do in order to run up front on the short tracks," said Busch. "Phoenix offers us the next big challenge along the schedule; can we get the job done on the flat one-mile tracks? Drawing from all the positive results we had there last season, winning a race and finishing sixth at New Hampshire and running so strong at Phoenix last fall, it certainly adds to the confidence level we're bringing back into Phoenix this weekend."

But while the picturesque one-mile oval holds the impressive Cup success for 2004 series champ Busch, it's his many personal memories that make PIR so special.

"The Phoenix track will always be special to me as long as I live," said Busch, a badge-carrying honorary deputy for noted colorful Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. "Back when I was only 13, it was the first track that I ever saw the Cup guys run on in person. Growing up in Las Vegas and around racing like I did, it was one of the fondest memories of my life when my dad carried me down to Phoenix back in 1991. Seeing all the races for years on TV and finally getting to attend one in person made a huge impression on a 13-year-old kid, I can tell you that.

"It was at PIR where we wrapped up the 1999 NASCAR Southwest Tour Championship, too, and that will always be so memorable," Busch said. "After winning the title, we got our first big dose of media attention. I'll never forget that day and doing the first national TV interview of my career. Dick Berggren was the interviewer and I was pretty darned nervous, to tell you the truth. He did a lot to keep me calm before we went on the air and the interview went very well. I'll always remember that and be thankful to him for that.

"There are so many special memories associated with the Phoenix area and PIR that it's almost like a second hometown for me," concluded Busch. "We're certainly hoping to add to the list of great memories out there this weekend and put our 300th career race into the record book as one we'll always look back on fondly."

"This is a race that we've been looking forward to all season long," said crew chief Pat Tryson, who'll be making his 348th race as a top-level team leader on Saturday, leading Busch's effort in 64 of those races. "I didn't even realize that it was Kurt's 300th start until they told me that on Monday. It's all the more reason to get excited about going back to Phoenix.

"Last November's race out there was one of the brightest spots of the whole season," Tryson continued. "We started third and never ran any lower than fifth during the entire race. We led laps and had the only car capable of running with the 48 team (race-winner Jimmie Johnson) throughout the race.

"We're bringing back the exact same car we raced out there last fall," Tryson said of the team's "PRS-576" Miller Lite Dodge Charger. "We've only raced the ‘576' twice heading into this weekend. We finished a stout sixth with it at New Hampshire last September and didn't race it again until November at Phoenix. It'll be really interesting to see how we stack up running this car again this weekend. We have a lot of confidence that we can all help make Kurt's 300th career race another great day at the track."

This weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule at Phoenix International Raceway gets under way with Friday's practice from 10:10 a.m. till 12:00 noon. The final session of Sprint Cup practice is set to run from 12:30 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Saturday's 500-kilometer battle is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV and MRN Radio). Saturday's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 (312 laps/312 miles/500 kilometers) has a scheduled 5:30 p.m. local (MST) starting time. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.