Kurt Busch Road Course Races Are Easy as 1-2-3

 Kurt Busch has found victory lane on nearly every type of circuit the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series offers.

 

From the shortest racetrack – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – to the road course at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, the driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) had won at almost every type of track. He’s won on racetracks ranging in length from .526 of a mile, .533 of a mile, .75 of a mile, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, 1.99 miles, 2 miles and 2.5-miles. He’d celebrated in victory lane at the high-banked ovals and flat tracks.

 

He’s found his way to victory lane at 15 of 23 active racetracks and one of those 15 is Sonoma, site of Sunday’s Save Mart 350k.

 

And has he been good at Sonoma. Busch has one pole, one win, four top-threes, seven top-fives, eight top-10s and has led a total of 197 laps in his 17 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Sonoma.

 

His average start is 9.4, his average finish is 14.1 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.1 percent, completing 1,862 of the 1,879 laps available.

 

Busch’s seven top-fives at Sonoma puts him in a tie with his SHR teammate Clint Bowyer for the most of all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

 

Busch’s only road-course win in the Cup Series came at Sonoma in 2011 and it was a dominant victory as he led a race-high 76 laps. He passed Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 13 and stayed out front for the next 19 circuits around the 1.99-mile track. He relinquished the lead twice for scheduled, green-flag pit stops and took over the top spot for the final time on lap 88, then led the final 23 laps.

 

He’s even had success at Sonoma in the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series, finishing third in 1998 after starting 19th and winning the 1999 race after starting third.

 

Busch is coming off a historic 1-2-3 finish for SHR two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Bowyer won the event with Kevin Harvick second and Busch third.

 

Busch is hoping he can score his first victory of 2018 this week at Sonoma.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
We used to see supposed road-course ringers show up at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, but that’s pretty rare now. Why do you think that is?

“If you’re a good driver and you want to be in the top tier of NASCAR, you’ve got to drive well everywhere. The road courses were a bit more of a specialty back in the day and you used to be able to take advantage of the guys who didn’t put forth the full effort in the road courses, but not anymore.”

 

You’ve proven to be a pretty good road-course driver. Was it something you took to right away or did you really have to work at it to enjoy the success you’ve had?

“I really enjoyed it right off the bat. I thought it was fun and different and I worked at it to develop the skills that I have in Legends car races and Late Model races. I even went to the Bob Bondurant Driving School. My first professional type of road-course race was in the Truck Series. I jumped right in there. (Greg) Biffle won that day and I beat Ron Fellows.”

 

You mentioned that racing Legends cars was how you were first introduced to road-course racing. Where did you race?

“Legends racing was big in the mid-90s in the Desert Southwest and they would let us run on the infield road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as the exterior road course there. We also ran road-course races at Buttonwillow (Raceway Park) and they had a street-course race in Los Angeles and they raced up in Sonoma. I was just kind of thrown into the fire with road-course racing, but I loved it from the first time I jumped on track.”

 

You won the 1999 NASCAR Southwest Tour race at Sonoma. Was that your first road-course win in a stock car? Was it a pivotal victory considering NASCAR teams were there and you were able to showcase your talents to Cup Series car owners and crew chiefs?

“That was my first win in a stock car at a road course. I’ve always believed that Saturday race was the most important stage to stand on because there wasn’t a Truck Series race or an Xfinity Series race. Back in the day, the Southwest Tour race was the support race, and my race was live on ESPN. I’ve always thought Sonoma helped springboard me into the spotlight, and I’m very thankful for that chance.”

 

How important is it to have a positive mindset when you come into a road-course race?

“I love road racing and I think it’s fun. It’s important to have a positive mindset everywhere, but it’s not problem for me at the road courses.”

 

What do you like best about road-course racing?

“I just like the rhythm. I like how you use one corner to help you in the next corner. You have to be thinking three corners ahead.”

 

Is there more opportunity on a road course because mistakes are magnified and because the race is more in the driver’s hands?

“Everything seems to have a larger consequence because track position is so important. So, as soon as you have a flat tire or a fender rub or you go off track, it’s very difficult to get back the track position you once had.”

Sonoma Notes of Interest:
· The SaveMart 350K will mark Kurt Busch’s 628th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 18th at Sonoma Raceway. Busch has one pole, one win, four top-threes, seven top-fives, eight top-10s and has led a total of 197 laps in his 17 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Sonoma. His average start is 9.4, his average finish is 14.1 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.1 percent, completing 1,862 of the 1,879 laps available.

 

· Busch has career totals of 29 wins, 24 poles, 134 top-fives, 266 top-10s and 9,140 laps led in 627 starts.

 

· His most recent Cup Series win came 51 races ago in the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Feb. 26, 2017).

 

· His last Cup Series pole came two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. (June 8).

 

· Busch’s seven top-fives at Sonoma ties him with his SHR teammate Clint Bowyer for the most of all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

 

· Busch’s only road-course win in the Cup Series came at Sonoma in 2011. It was a dominant victory as he led a race-high 76 laps. Busch passed Denny Hamlin for the lead on lap 13 and stayed out front for the next 19 circuits around the 1.99-mile track. He relinquished the lead twice for scheduled, green-flag pit stops and took over the top spot for the final time on lap 88, and he led the final 23 laps.

 

· 9,000 and counting – By leading 98 laps in the April race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Busch became just the 21st driver to lead 9,000 laps in his NASCAR career. He is now 20th in the lap led standings having led 9,140 laps and is 604 laps behind Buddy Baker, while he is 62 laps ahead of 21st-place Denny Hamlin. Busch is fifth among active drivers in laps led.

 

· Busch swept the poles for both road-course races during the 2006 NASCAR Cup Series season. He won the pole at Sonoma in June to score his fifth career Cup Series pole and kept his quick pace at the series’ second and final road-course stop at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in August to earn his sixth career pole. They are the only two Cup Series poles Busch has earned on a road course.

 

· Busch has led laps in four of his last seven races at Sonoma, highlighted by the 76 laps he led en route to winning in 2011.

 

· In Busch’s last seven races at Sonoma, he has earned two top-twos, three top-threes, four top-fives and six top-10s. His only finish outside the top-10 was 12th in 2014.

 

· Between Sonoma and Watkins Glen, Busch has 34 road-course starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. Collectively, he has two poles, a win, 10 top-fives and 17 top-10s with 262 laps led (197 laps led at Sonoma and 65 at Watkins Glen).

 

· Busch has two NASCAR Southwest Tour starts at Sonoma (1998 and 1999). He finished third in 1998 after starting 19th and he won the 1999 race after starting third.

 

· Busch has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Watkins Glen (2006, 2007 and 2011). Hestarted first in each of them, won two of them (2006 and 2011) and finished third in 2007. In these three races, Busch led 98 of the 250 laps available (39.2 percent).

 

· Busch has two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts on road courses – Portland (Ore.) International Raceway and Watkins Glen. Both starts came in 2000, with Busch finishing 11th at Portland and second at Watkins Glen.

 

· Get to the Points – With his third-place finish two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Busch is seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with 493 points. He has three top-fives, eight top-10s and 11 top-15s in 15 races.

 

· Busch has been in the top-10 in points for 10 consecutive weeks. The last time he was in the top-10 for nine consecutive weeks was when he was in the top-10 for the first 27 races of the 2016 season.

TSC PR/Photo Credit Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

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