Coming out of Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Kurt Busch is now a member of the Two-Five Club.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished second in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega behind winner Joey Logano. That puts him fifth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings. Thus – two spot in the race finish order, five spot in the standings – the entry into the Two-Five Club.
Sunday’s runner-up finish was Busch’s best since October 2017 at Kansas Speedway, and his points position is his best since March 2017, when he was second after the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch and crew chief Billy Scott have one top-five finish, four top-10s and seven top-15s in 10 races. They also qualified on the pole in track-record time at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Now they head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the fast, high-banked, concrete oval.
Busch has one win, seven top-fives and nine top-10s at Dover. Additionally, the 39-year-old driver has led 426 laps, has an average starting position of 11.6, an average finish of 18.7, and has completed 92.5 percent (12,962 of 14,015) of the laps he’s contested there.
He scored a huge win in October 2011, when he started second and led 90 of 400 laps. Busch grabbed the lead from Jimmie Johnson on the final restart and paced the final 42 circuits to win by .908 of a second over Johnson.
Busch and Scott are proud members of the Two-Five Club. But they would love to advance to the One-One Club – one victory and number one in the point standings.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Can you talk about your strategy this year with crew chief Billy Scott? You have a lot of stage points this year and last year you seem to leave a lot on the table.
“Yeah, I felt like the first stage was my weak area last year and it was how we would start the race on the scuffed tires. We have really approached it differently this year and Billy (Scott) made me aware of some cool things to do. To be able to run hard at the beginning of the race and not sacrifice anything toward that second stage. Overall this year, Billy has done a great job with the car handling at the beginning of the race. Now we need to parlay that and make good adjustments throughout the race to capitalize with a strong finish.”
SHR seems to be the flagship team for Ford this year. How has that performance helped your performance this year?
“It has been a good balance all the way through on how the cars are built with Tony Gibson now as a shop foreman to all four teams. Any time you can put a current crew chief at the race shop seven days a week, it will benefit the program. That is where we have been stronger. Also, getting our arms wrapped around the Ford balance with some of the torque levels in the engine and some of the downforce levels on the aerodynamic side. Right now, everything is clicking on all eight cylinders. It is a good feeling. Even though my little brother is the hottest guy on the circuit with his three wins, (SHR’s Kevin) Harvick also has three. We have been knocking on the door and it is just a matter of time. We just have to stay consistent and focused and I really like the chemistry I have with Billy Scott.”
What is it about Dover that makes it such a challenging racetrack, and what do you have to do to be successful there?
“The tough thing about Dover is things happen so quickly. At any moment, at any time, somebody can spin in front of you or you can lose control off the corners and you are going to wreck. There is no real forgiveness about Dover. That is what makes it tough. To be good there, you have to be good on corner exit. The track really rubbers in so you can see the concrete change to black as the weekend progresses. On corner exit, you get really tight or really loose. The time I won there, I could almost hold it wide open on corner exit. That is what you’ve got to have.”
Do you feel it has earned its nickname?
“It’s called the Monster Mile for a reason – the track can chew up cars and spit them out. It’s because of those tough transitions into the corners with the high banking and even the high-banked straightaways. It’s tough to do that sharp of a turn on a mile racetrack. It’s like you literally jump down into the corner and then jump back up out of the corner onto the straightaway, and so those points of the track are the toughest part – the transition from straightaway to corner. It’s a fun track to drive.”