It seemed a little warm during last week’s race at Las Vegas. But to Kurt Busch, a native of Las Vegas, it was not hot enough.
Perhaps that’s why his No. 41 Ford for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway is sponsored by State Water Heaters and Haas Automation.
In 1946, State Water Heaters was founded by Herbert Lindahl as a small entrepreneurial company producing coal- and wood-burning stoves in a garage in Nashville, Tennessee. In the years that followed, State expanded and became a leader in the water-heating industry through steadfast commitments to seeking new materials, new technology and innovative engineering techniques.
Busch is hoping that State Water Heaters can bring him more heat – and some luck – as week two of the 10-week NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are taking place. The No. 41 team is in sixth place, 24 points to the good with two races to go before the 16-driver playoff field gets cut to 12.
Busch was running in the top-five for much of Sunday’s Las Vegas race, but a late accident not of his making placed him in 21st. He would very much like to pad his lead over 13th place before next week’s Round of 16 finale on the new “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
In 35 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond, Busch owns a pair of victories, the in September 2005, when he started fifth and led 185 laps en route to the win, and the second in April 2015 driving a Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR)-prepared racecar. He dominated the latter event, leading six times for a race-high 291 laps and holding off teammate Kevin Harvick to score his first win 2015.
In addition to his success in NASCAR’s top series, Busch also won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond in April 2012.
Busch is hoping to take the No. 41 State Water Heaters/Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for SHR to victory lane for a third time at Richmond in the Cup Series.
And he would be “warmly” greeted in victory lane.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How important is Richmond with the uncertainly of the new “roval” next week at Charlotte?
“There will be a lot of anxiety, a lot of unknowns and a lot of interesting, unique things that are going to come out of the road race with it being a cutoff race. It’s a very important race to have a smooth day. And, based on testing, nobody’s had a smooth day getting around that track. So it puts emphasis on Richmond and, right now, I think everybody’s looking at Richmond like, ‘Man I want to win that one, that way I don’t have the stress of the roval.’ Plus, it’s great that we have State Water Heaters on our car for Richmond along with Haas Automation, Monster Energy and Ford. State Water Heaters will be with us at Texas, as well. They are a great partner.”
Talk about the upgrades to Richmond Raceway.
“It’ll be great. Every track that redoes the garage area – places like Daytona and Vegas – they seem to make it very fan friendly. The way our atmosphere around our races has changed, everyone wants to be in the pits and, yet, you don’t want too congested of a workspace and so, to create the viewing areas and the different platforms and different places to get food and drink, it’s great for our fans to be near our workspace.”
Your thoughts about the track since you starting running there in 2002?
“It’s a cool short track. It really challenges you to make sure you have the drive off as far as the forward bite off corner exit. But, there are a lot of restarts where you just have to haul the mail and cut through the center of the corner hard and lay down the hard lap times, those fast lap times. It’s a fun, challenging track. You have to be ready for a lot of things at Richmond.”
What is the hardest thing to figure out at Richmond?
“For me, it’s turn four. The races I’ve won there, I had a good car on the exit of turn four. Races I’ve lost or ran poorly, my exit of turn four wasn’t that good. It’s really a tough corner to get good traction put down.”