For Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), this weekend’s Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is one for bragging rights as he and the team converge on Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California looking to claim the victory in the backyard of both primary sponsors.
Headquartered is in Oxnard, California approximately 100 miles from Fontana is Haas Automation, the largest CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine tool builder in North America. Founded by Gene Haas in Sun Valley, California in 1983 to manufacture machine tools, Haas Automation entered the industry with the first fully automatic, programmable collet indexer – a device used to position parts for machining with high accuracy. Haas moved the company to its current purpose-built facility located on 86 acres in Oxnard in 1997. By then, the company had shipped its 10,000th CNC machine and, less than 10 years later, had installed its 75,000th machine. To date, more than 175,000 Haas CNC machines have been put into service worldwide.
Based in Corona, California is Monster Beverage Corporation. Its subsidiaries develop and market energy drinks, including the brand that adorns the quarterpanels of the No. 41 Ford – Monster Energy. A company that typically passes on traditional forms of advertising and instead earns significant brand exposure through its roster of extreme athletes, Monster Energy made the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series with Busch in 2015. Renowned for a tenacious driving style that has earned him 29 wins and the 2004 Cup Series championship in a career spanning more than 17 years, Busch fit the bill as a Monster Energy athlete. Located approximately 20 miles due south of Fontana, this weekend’s race will be a home one for Monster’s more than 2,000 employees.
While Busch may downplay that there is added pressure to perform well this weekend, he’d like nothing more than to return to his winning ways at the 2-mile oval and give both Haas Automation and Monster Energy the trophy from their home track. While it’s been a number of years since he won there – 14 to be exact – his recent performances there make him difficult to overlook.
Augmenting Busch’s Fontana win are four poles, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 23 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts there. Two of those top-fives and four of those top-10s have come in his last five starts.
Busch heads to Fontana this weekend having posted two less-than-desired finishes due to electrical issues that plagued his No. 41 Ford. He’s looking to get back to his winning ways this weekend at Fontana by scoring both his second win at the 2-mile racetrack and of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talk about heading to Auto Club Speedway this weekend and racing in the backyard of your primary sponsors Haas Automation and Monster Energy. Do you feel any extra pressure to perform there?
“It’s a lot of fun to race at Auto Club Speedway with both Haas Automation and Monster Energy headquartered nearby. I’m going to both headquarters to visit, to see all the employees. It’s a busy week. Then you want to go to the racetrack and have a good run because everybody’s there, and they’re that close to the action one time a year. So, of course you want to do well. There’s some added pressure. We want to come away with the win. We almost got it a couple of years ago but, last year, we missed the setup. You’re going to be hot, you’re going to be cold – we hope it’s a race we’re going to be hot for.”
What’s the key to success at Auto Club Speedway?
“I think the key to success is short-run speed. It always seems to come down to a green-white-checkered finish or a quick pit stop at the end to put four tires on. You’ll be five-, six-wide going down into turn one and off of two, you’ve got to find the right holes at the end of the race even though you’ve been out there for 400 miles.”
What’s the difference between the asphalt at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway?
“They’re really similar, it’s just that there’s no banking at Auto Club Speedway compared to what we have at Atlanta. You’re really slip-sliding around and the pace drops off a ton at Auto Club.”