Kurt Busch is well known as a diehard Chicago Cubs fan.
Having celebrated the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series after a brief drought of 108 years last fall, Busch was a little disappointed that the Northside team was eliminated from the Major League Baseball playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one in this year’s National League Championship Series.
So while Busch may not be paying attention to the World Series quite as closely in 2017, he can reflect on accomplishing one – or two – of his lifelong goals.
The first was to see every Major League ballpark in the United States and Canada. He accomplished that feat.
The second was to win the prestigious Daytona 500, which he accomplished in February. Busch joined names like Petty, Pearson, Foyt and Andretti.
Busch was sadly eliminated from the NASCAR playoffs this year after the first round, but there is still much to learn as 2017 comes to a close. And Busch will see what he can do this week in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
The driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has one pole, one win, three top-five finishes and 16 top-10s at the 1.5-mile oval. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 295 laps, has an average starting position of 14.6, an average finish of 15.3, and has completed 98.4 percent – 9,511 of 9,669 – of the laps he’s contested there.
This week marks three years since Busch and veteran crew chief Tony Gibson were paired up, as well. On November 2, 2014, Busch started fourth, led 15 laps and finished an impressive eighth in his first race with Gibson.
Both Gibson and Busch are hoping they can find victory lane once again the great state of Texas.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Overall thoughts heading to Texas this week?
“We’re still strong and we can snake a victory away. Texas is a good track for us and a good market. I always enjoy coming out to Texas. The weather looks perfect this weekend, all days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
How would you describe your year as the season comes to a close?
“We knew our performance wasn’t where we needed to be this summer, but we felt leading into the playoffs we found some things that would help our cause. Things like grip level, the strategy of calling the races. We almost won the Southern 500 at Darlington. Once the playoffs started, we just didn’t execute well and made some fundamental mistakes and we got eliminated in the first round. It was tough to take, but the season overall, we started out winning the Daytona 500. It was great for Monster Energy, Haas Automation and Ford. It was a homecoming being back with Ford. It’s been a good year, it’s been a challenge, but we’ve built up everything to be strong again next year.”
You had a goal to go to every Major League Baseball park. Talk about that.
“I have completed it. I went on this tour throughout the last 15 years to go to all the different ballparks. I tried to get to some of the older ones before they built the new ones. Now that some of the new ones are being built, I made a pact to see the Cubs when they play at the new stadiums. It worked out well this year with the new Braves stadium, SunTrust Park, in Atlanta. The Cubs were playing on a Monday and Tuesday and I wasn’t racing on those days.”
Other than Wrigley Field, what was your favorite park?
“Fenway is the most nostalgic park on the American League side. I was really impressed with the Rangers ballpark in Arlington. The feel of the outfield and the design of the architecture and the buildings, it creates an intimate feel for the Texas Rangers. I was really impressed with that park. One of the fun ones was all the way up in Toronto. The people in and around the stadium were a lot of fun.”