Busch Hopes to Break Restrictor-Plate Drought at Daytona

June 30, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch enters Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway batting zero for 38 in the restrictor-plate portion of his impressive NASCAR Sprint Cup racing career. The 2004 series champ and 22-race winner in the top tier of professional stock car racing is a staunch believer in the law of averages. He thinks they could finally turn in his favor in Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

"The Captain (legendary team owner Roger Penske) has long had the team mantra of ‘Effort Equals Results' and our Miller Lite Dodge Team lives by that philosophy week in and week out," said Busch, who came back to finish an impressive third at New Hampshire on Sunday and remains sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings entering Saturday's battle under the lights. "If we keep bringing our best effort possible out there in all of these plate races, we're bound to cash in and get the top results that we're looking for sooner or later.

"I look at the situation as the effort part of the equation meaning coming in there with the sleekest, most aerodynamic cars and engines with the most horsepower we can have," said Busch, who currently trails points leader Kevin Harvick by 201 points, but has a "buffer" of 271 points on 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. "If we can keep doing that every time we race at Daytona or Talladega, the thrill of winning one of these things has to be around the corner. You have to think that eventually the law of averages has to work in your favor.

"You could look at it like Phil Mickelson going zero for 42 in the majors on the PGA Tour before finally breaking through with the big win in The Masters back in 2004," said Busch, who has been working on his personal golf game as much as his busy schedule allows. "My point is that Phil came so close so many times before he was able to win one of the biggest tournaments. He brought his best game in there for 43 different weekends before he was finally able to come out on top.

"When you look at the performance and record of our Miller Lite Dodge Team so far this season, you might could even make the case that maybe the moon and stars are sitting right for us to finally win one of these plate races," said Busch, whose Daytona career record boasts nine top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in his 19 starts. "We'd never been able to put together a whole race and finish strong at Charlotte (Charlotte Motor Speedway) and we won on back-to-back weekends there. We finished a strong third at Darlington. So, maybe this can be our time to come home the winner at Daytona."

In his 38 total career plate races entering this weekend's battle at Daytona, Busch has scored 15 top-five finishes, including three seconds and six thirds. He has posted 23 top-10 finishes and has a 15.421 average finish, even after enduring five DNFs.

Busch started fourth and finished fifth in last year's Coke Zero 400. He showcased his plate-racing prowess in turning what looked like a sure dismal finish with 40 laps to go into a solid top-five finish. "With about 50 laps to go, we had a tire problem and got into another car," Busch recalled. "We knocked a hole in the front end of our car and the guys did a great job of patching it up. We were like 25th or so with 30 laps to go and managed to claw our way back up through there and get a top-five out of it."

In his most recent visit to Daytona International Speedway, Busch started 10th and finished 23rd in February's Daytona 500. "Just didn't play the right strategy game at the end of that one," Busch said of his finish in that race.

"Every time you get out there, you have to put yourself in the position to win and it will be no different there this weekend," said Busch. "All those second-place finishes and all the top-fives show that we've certainly been able to get ourselves in the position to win, but for one reason or another we just haven't been able to pull it off yet.

"The goal this weekend is the same as it is every time we take the green flag here and that's to run a smart race and be up in the lead group of cars for the stretch run," said Busch. "In every one of these races, I'm out there trying to learn something new. That's especially true every time the rules are tweaked and we change to a different package. The goal always remains the same, though, and that's to be there at the end of the race and positioned for a shot at 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) and all cars will be impounded immediately afterwards. Saturday's Coke Zero 400 (160 Laps, 200 Miles) is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. EDT. Race No. 18 of 36 points-paying events on the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.