Busch Looks Forward to Inaugural Kentucky Battle

July 6, 2011

SPARTA, Ky. (July 5, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch acknowledges that this Saturday night's inaugural running of the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway could very well be the biggest hurdle for his Steve Addington-led team during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The 2004 series champ and his No. 22 "Double Deuce" Penske Racing Team is certainly up for test.

"This is unchartered territory for the Cup teams, that's for sure," Busch says of the series' first-ever visit to the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval that features only 14-degree-banked turns. "Yes, it's true that most all the drivers in the Cup garage have probably tested there at one time or another. But testing there and racing there are two completely different animals.

"I've actually raced there before, but it was in the trucks during my first year out and I was just a hard-charging Vegas kid trying to make it to the big league," Busch said of the June 17, 2000 Kroger 225 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race where he started 32nd and finished 29th. "I pretty much knew only one speed back in those days and it was wide open. I was just a wet-behind-the-ears rookie who was out there trying to run every lap like it was the last one. I was able to charge up through the pack and actually lead the race, but with the reckless abandon style and attitude I had back then, I crashed out of the race with about 40 laps to go. I remember there was like an hour delay for rain and when we went back racing, everyone was trying to get all they could."

What does Busch expect as far as how the competition stacks up for the first Cup visit to Kentucky Speedway?

"Well, you have to look at the guys who have run the most laps there and think that they have got to have an edge," Busch said. "You look back at all the years that the old Busch Series and now the Nationwide Series have been racing there and pinpoint those drivers who excelled and are now running in the Cup series.

"The list of the favorites going into this weekend? Well, you gotta' put Joey Logano there at the top of the list. Good gosh, how many laps has the kid logged on that track? He's won like three races there. Has he ever raced there and not won? It's been fun to be hanging out in the coach on Saturday nights before a Sunday Cup race and watch him do his thing there.

"Joey has to be at the top of the list of favorites," said Busch. "He has no doubt found his groove on that track. He's gotta' be liking the fact that we're headed there this weekend and really anticipating this race. So, you have to think that Joey would be the favorite.

"But, the list doesn't just stop there," said Busch. "You have to include all the other guys who have done well there. I mean guys like (Carl) Edwards, my little brother (Kyle Busch) (Kevin) Harvick(; even David Gilliland, not putting him down because he is another "West Coast guy" who I think a lot of. Those guys have won races on that track, so you just have to look at that list as the guys we have to beat. We will probably lean on our teammate (Brad Keseolowski) because he's done well in a lot of races there."

How do you prepare for such a challenge? If it's "unchartered territory," what do you and Addington do in your preparation for this weekend?

"We'll come in there and probably start out with a setup that is something similar to what we would run at like Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway)," said Busch. "You have to consider that that track is a ‘mile-and-a-halfer,' but there is so little banking. So that's the Indy part of the equation that we throw in there. Just like I told them last week in Daytona when I was looking to the future and the Kentucky race, it wouldn't surprise me at all if we fall back to a partial setup from what we had at Pocono during the early stages. The thing about Kentucky is that negotiating all the bumps is a major factor in getting around that place.

"What's so great - and I personally applaud NASCAR for doing it - is that they gave us a ton of track time there on Thursday and that is cool," Busch said. "It definitely won't offer everything to get us full-time ‘Cuppers' up to speed with the guys I have mentioned, but it will certainly help out.

"This is definitely a weekend that I'd label as being ‘cautiously optimistic' in that it's a new adventure for everyone," said Busch. "The Penske marketing guys tell me that the speedway says it's a complete sellout for Saturday night at Kentucky and that's just the shot in the arm that our sport needs right now."

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Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-752" Penske Racing Dodge Charger at Kentucky this weekend. This chassis debuted in the May 15 FedEx/Autism Speaks 400 at Dover, where Busch started sixth and finished 14th. This weekend's Quaker State 400 will be the second race for this car.

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This weekend's inaugural visit to Kentucky Speedway by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will see an expanded schedule. Teams will have the opportunity to participate in two "test sessions" on Thursday, with the first set from 11:05 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. and the second from 4:00 p.m. till 6:00 p.m. Friday's schedule calls for practice sessions from 11:30 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. The 5:10 p.m. Friday qualifying session will establish the 43-car starting field for Saturday's race. Saturday night's Quaker State 400 is a 267-lap, 400.5-mile battle around the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval, with the green flag expected to fall just after 7:30 p.m. EDT. Race No. 18 of 36 points-paying events on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and PRN Radio.

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