Kurt Busch Aims For First "Plate" Win in Daytona

June 30, 2009

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 30, 2009) - Perhaps one can claim that these are the top-10 modern-day mysteries: 1) What happened to the Carroll A. Deering? 2) Who was D.B. Cooper? 3) Is the Riemann hypothesis true? 4) Who killed the Black Dahlia? 5) Where is Jimmy Hoffa's body? 6) What causes the Taos Hum? 7) Who was the Zodiac Killer? 8) What is "dark energy" and is it pulling the universe apart? 9) What really happened at Area 51? 10) Was the JFK assassination a conspiracy?

Along the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing tour, it would certainly be appropriate to add this: 11) Why has Kurt Busch yet to win a restrictor-plate race?

"The fact that Kurt is still looking for the first plate-race win of his career would have to rate as our sport's biggest mystery, that's for sure," said Miller Lite Dodge crew chief Pat Tryson. "I've always thought of Kurt as one of the top-five best ‘plate racers' out there and I think if you polled all the guys in the garage these days, the big majority of the folks would agree to that.

"Kurt has been so close to winning and it's quite incredible that he's gone this long without taking a checkered flag at one of those races," Tryson continued. "Really, just look at his record. How many runner-up finishes does he have? How many top-fives and top-10s? They always say that the law of averages has to sooner or later work in a guy's favor. When you look at Kurt's career record in those races, it certainly leaves you scratching your head. It's really mind-boggling.

"The bottom line is that it's all the more reason we're so anxious to get back down to Daytona for this weekend's (Coke Zero 400) race," said Tryson, who will be leading Busch's team for the 75th race in Saturday night's battle. "It's way past due for Kurt to celebrate in Victory Lane after winning one of these things and we're on a mission this weekend to help him put an end to that winless streak."

Tryson is certainly "spot-on" with his assessment of his driver's impressive record in the restrictor-plate races and being "oh-so-close" to tasting the victory champagne. Entering this weekend, Busch may still be looking for his first win in "plate racing," but his record sports 14 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s in 34 races.

Most importantly, another fact has to be placed into the equation. Busch has finished second in three of those races, with all of the runner-up finishes coming at Daytona International Speedway. He finished second in the 2003 edition of the Daytona 500 and backed that up with a similar impressive statistic in the 2005 edition of the "Great American Race."

The most current and most talked-about runner-up finish at Daytona came in the 2008 Daytona 500. That race saw Busch push Ryan Newman, then a teammate at Penske Racing, across the finish line to score the first Daytona 500 (and first-ever restrictor-plate race) win for Roger Penske's high-profile racing organization.

Busch's career record at Daytona sports eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 17 races. During the four most-recent races, he has recorded finishes of third, second, fourth and 10th - for a 4.75 average finish.

It shouldn't shock anyone that Busch enters this weekend's Daytona race continuing his restrictor-plate racing roll. In the two races held so far this season, Busch recorded a 10th at Daytona and a sixth at Talladega (8.0 average finish) and has earned 289 points. Only good friend, Matt Kenseth (with finishes of first and 17th), has accrued more points (307) than the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge driver in the first two restrictor-plate races this season.

"Yeah, I thought I probably should have won a race at Daytona or Talladega by now," said Busch. "Does it bother me? No, not really, because we know that as long as you keep beating on that door, you're gonna' knock it down sooner or later. I never get discouraged as long as I run well and can be competitive every time we race in those races.

"I think that the biggest thing I always have going for me is that I truly enjoy the plate races," said Busch. "I think for sure that I am in the minority when I say that. I know how much the fans love it. I know it's hard for most people to understand, but the more I'm right in the middle of the lead pack, the more comfortable I am in the car. I feel like I learn something each time I'm in that position, especially how to survive it and get a good finish out of it."

This weekend's Daytona International Speedway action gets under way on Thursday with practice set from 4:00 p.m. till 5:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 6:35 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & MRN Radio). Saturday's Coke Zero 400 (160 Laps, 200 Miles) is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 8:00 p.m. EDT. Race No. 18 of 36 points-paying events on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.