Tag:Kurt Busch
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:10 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:18 pm
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Daytona a rough debut for many drivers

By Pete Pistone

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(Patrick and Busch got wadded up early in Monday night's Daytona 500 - Getty Images)


Monday's "Great American Race" was anything but great for a number of drivers making their Sprint Cup debuts with new race teams.

Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger and Kasey Kahne made up one quartet that opened the season with disappointing results.

Patrick was swept up into her third crash of Speedweeks when she got clipped by Jimmie Johnson in the lap two melee that broke out on the frontstretch. She was credited with a finish in position 38even after coming back on track later with a severely damaged car to make some extra laps.

“Any lap that I turn is progression, that’s for sure,” Patrick said. “That’s why I was so proud of everyone working so hard. They were working hard to get me back on the track. Was there much to gain as far as position? No. What there was to gain was for me to get the experience of running out there. We ran in packs for a while. The car is a little bent up. Honestly, it didn’t feel perfect. So as it got later and later in the race, I didn’t want to have an influence on it. I didn’t want something to happen to it or break and shoot across the track."

Busch was also swept up in that early race altercation and like Patrick soldiered on later with a battered Phoenix Racing Chevrolet trying to make at least a statement for his new organization.

"It was important to not get a DNF for this team to show how much we're all in this together," said Busch. "Not what we wanted for sure but still proud of the effort."

Allmendinger capped a rough Speedweeks that included a crash with his teammate Brad Keselowski earlier in the week with a tough official debut for Penske Racing. Allmendinger's problems took place on pit road in one of the race's many bizarre twists.

“A tire fell off a car that was struggling in front of us on pit road, he stopped – and I ran into him,” a disappointed Allmendinger said.  “Our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger ran well and it was fast, but we have a 34th-place finish to show for it.  It (stinks) because the guys did a good job.  It was a just a frustrating night for us, but we’ll bounce back strong at Phoenix.”

Kahne is also hoping to have a better weekend in Phoenix, where he won last year for Red Bull Racing, than he did in Daytona. He too had issues on pit road when he sustain damage in an incident that was compounded when Kahne got involved in one of the two late race multi-car accidents.

"Disappointed for sure," said Kahne after finishing in position 29. "Still excited about this team though but ready to head to Phoenix."

 
Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:06 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:35 pm
 

Kurt Busch apologizes to Dr. Jerry Punch on air

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Last November's infamous Kurt Busch tirade against ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch at the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale triggered a major controversy that eventually led to the driver parting ways with Penske Racing.

But Busch tried to make amends with the veteran reporter Thursday afternoon when he apologized during the network's live coverage of Nationwide Series practice from Daytona.

“Let's just start off with a hug, Doc, c'mon," Busch said as the two hugged. "I'm so sorry with the way last year ended."

Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR for the incident but vowed to put it behind him and work on his behavior and emotions this season.

“I feel horrible,” Busch told Punch on the air. “With this offseason, all the work that I've gone through to put together this team, with Kyle, you know, the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet on the Cup side. It's a humbling experience to go from top teams, but yet this [Cup owner] James Finch program, and then Kyle Busch Motorsports, we're going to have a lot of fun and we're going to do this with a serious effort.”

 
Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 2:50 pm
 

Shootout to provide gauge of Daytona rule changes

By Pete Pistone


  Matt Kenseth, Driver Of The #17 Best Buy Ford, Leads
(Whether the rule changes will result in more pack racing or the return of tandem drafting remains to be seen)


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - There's money and glory on the line but that won't be the most important thing in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout.

The opportunity for drivers to finally put the many rule changes and modifications NASCAR implemented after last month's Preseason Thunder test into race mode is what's on everyone's mind.

After three days of testing a variety of restrictor plate measurements, spoiler heights, spring packages and cooling system tweaks, NASCAR landed on what for now is considered a suitable package to officially open Speedweeks. In an effort to if not eliminate at least limit the use of tandem drafting, which the sanctioning body found to be an extremely disliked practice by a majority of fans, the rash of changes were introduced to teams.

But while practicing during a test is one thing, being on track during racing conditions is quite another.

"I'm really not sure what to expect," said Greg Biffle. "My guess is you'll see a combination of the big packs that NASCAR seems to want us to return to and then some use of the tandem when the time is right."

The exhibition race will give drivers a chance to try and get a handle on what to expect when next Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying races roll around as well as when the green flag flies in the Daytona 500.

"There's no reason to thin the tandem will completely disappear," said defending Budweiser Shootout winner Kurt Busch, who makes his debut with Phoenix Racing in Saturday night's race. "But I do think based on what we saw during the test we won't see it all race long either in the Shootout or the 500."

Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout format remains unchanged from last year with a 25 lap opening segment followed by a ten minute break and then a 50-lap dash to the checkered flag.

Criteria has been tweaked to fill out the 25-car field to include:

• Drivers finishing among the top 25 in the 2011 championship driver points

• Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola champions and winners of Shootout events. 

Following the first segment, a 10-minute “pit stop” gives crews the opportunity to make normal adjustments to their cars. Other notes: All work must be done on pit road or in the garage; teams may not change springs, shocks or rear ends; all green- and yellow-flag laps in both segments will count. Following the 10-minute “pit stop,” the event’s second segment remains a 50-lap sprint for the win.

Those entered in Saturday’s race: Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, David Ragan, Joey Logano, Michael Waltrip and Jamie McMurray

In addition to Busch, other drivers will be making their debuts with new teams including Bowyer with Michael Waltrip Racing, Kahne with Hendrick Motorsports, Ragan with Front Row Motorsports and Allmendinger with Penske Racing. Allmendinger already has one 2012 Speedweeks victory in last month’s GRAND-AM Sports Car Series Rolex 24. Kurt Busch is the defending champion of the Shootout.

Drivers will draw for their starting positions in a ceremony held Friday night to set the lineup.


   
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Posted on: February 13, 2012 11:28 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 11:28 am
 

HendrickCars.com to sponsor three NASCAR teams

By Pete Pistone

HendrickCars.com will support three Sprint Cup team efforts this season ironically including two of Hendrick Motorsports' Sprint Cup rivals.

The retail automotive website, which supports Rich Hendrick's business ventures outside his NASCAR program, will lend its support to both Phoenix Racing and Richard Childress Racing in 2012.

The program will kick off during Speedweeks in Daytona Beach, Fla., with primary sponsorship of Phoenix Racing and 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch in the Feb. 25 Nationwide Series race and Feb. 26 Daytona 500. It will continue with primary sponsorship of JR Motorsports and driver Cole Whitt in the March 17 Nationwide event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In addition, HendrickCars.com will be a major associate sponsor of the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet with driver Elliott Sadler in NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500.

"Last year's Daytona 500 broadcast alone averaged more than 15 million viewers, and we expect 2012 will be even stronger," said Hendrick, who in addition to owning Hendrick Motorsports is also Chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group, which owns HendrickCars.com. "Combined with our sponsorship in the Nationwide Series, that's tens of millions of people seeing our brand, hearing our message and then visiting HendrickCars.com. We wanted to showcase the new site, and there's no more effective marketing tool than NASCAR."

James Finch's Phoenix team, which purchases equipment from Hendrick, is obviously pleased with the additional backing for the biggest race of the season.

"We're proud to have HendrickCars.com as our primary sponsor for both races in Daytona," said Finch. "The Hendrick people know how well sponsorships like this work when they're done the right way. Daytona is a big opportunity for our team to build some positive momentum to start the season. Having a sponsor for Speedweeks means a lot to us, and we're going to do everything we can to put HendrickCars.com up front."

The sponsorship of Whitt pairs HendrickCars.com with an up-and-coming young driver and Nationwide Series rookie-of-the-year contender. In his first season at JR Motorsports, Whitt, 20, is joining a No. 88 team that finished fourth in the championship standings in 2011.

"We feel fortunate to be a part of the initiative to drive awareness of HendrickCars.com and the new inventory of cars," said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Vice President of JR Motorsports. "We pride ourselves on having assets both on and off the track to support our sponsors' marketing goals. HendrickCars.com has such an incredible inventory of new and used cars -- literally something for everybody -- and we look forward to doing our part to help with its continued success."

Hendrick is hoping to replicate the success of previous Daytona sponsorships.

In 2009, HendrickCars.com sponsored driver Tony Stewart in the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Stewart led 23 laps on his way to winning the event, which drove record traffic to HendrickCars.com.

"Last time HendrickCars.com was a major sponsor of a car at Daytona, the response was overwhelming," said Hendrick, who also is the owner of championship-winning NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports. "It was a big success and ultimately helped drive sales. If we do our part by building a great program, these sponsorships will be another business win for us."

In 2011, HendrickCars.com was a sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, who competes full-time in the NASCAR K&N Series East. HendrickCars.com will continue to support Elliott in 2012, along with having associate sponsor placement on the No. 5 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne throughout the entire Sprint Cup Series season. 

  
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Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:48 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 5:58 pm
 

Kurt Busch makes most disliked athletes list

By Pete Pistone

He probably won't display the award in his trophy case but Kurt Busch landed on an exclusive list of athletes named in a FORBES magazine poll.

Busch was included as one of the "most disliked" athletes in sports.

Surveys conducted by Nielsen and partner E-Poll Market Research, measured public attitudes toward pro athletes. Athletes named on the list were those that scored the most responses from people describing them as athletes they “dislike”;”dislike somewhat” or “dislike a lot.” Candidates are limited to those scoring at least 10% awareness with the public.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick led the hit parade this year with a 42 percent awareness number. “His awareness is up there with Peyton Manning but a lot of it is people knowing him for the wrong reasons,” says Stephen Master, VP of Sports for Nielsen.

Vick actually tied with Tiger Woods for the dubious honor. 

While the likes of Mark McGwire, Randy Moss and Manny Ramirez dropped out this year NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress, fresh off a prison term for gun possession, Kris Humphries, the embattled New Jersey Nets player who no doubt has his failed marriage to Kim Kardashian to thank for his inclusion on the list, and Busch took their spots this year.

 
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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:30 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Many stories left to tell as season draws near

By Pete Pistone


Image Detail
(Whether or not Busch can get the No. 51 Chevrolet up front on a regular basis remains a big question for 2012)


Call it the calm before the storm but the next two weeks should be on the quiet side as the NASCAR world readies for Daytona’s Speedweeks. 

After the busiest off-season in the sport’s history, most of the major stories of the winter months have been announced and there’s not much else to come until the roar of engines officially kicks off the year at Daytona. 

However there are a few topics that either flew under the radar during last week’s annual Media Tour in Charlotte or at the very least deserve a little more dissection as we count down to NASCAR 2012: 

Kurt Busch 2.0

Busch continues to stress how refreshed he feels with his new ventures working with team owner James Finch and Phoenix Racing in the Sprint Cup Series as well as teaming up with younger brother Kyle on a Nationwide program at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Say what you will about the tempestuous Busch and his past behavior, he understands the importance of this season and what it will mean to his career. 

In Busch’s mind it’s all about going back to the roots of how he started in the sport. 

“Expectations for us are one weekend at a time,” said Busch. “It will be little victories for us that we take in. Whether it’s finishing 15th, but putting the car back in the hauler without a scratch on it. It’s about racing smart and old school racing. It’s like when I raced my dad’s Legend Car. If I wrecked it one weekend, I couldn’t race the next. It’s a balance of understanding how to get the best out of the car and protect it. 

“Things change and happen for a reason. At the end of the day, is it money you put in your pocket or the fun you have doing it?” 

Some still believe Busch won’t last more than a month or two with Phoenix before his frustration boils over if the team isn’t competitive. Others think Busch will contend for wins and maybe even a Chase spot. There’s no middle ground on views with the polarizing drivers which makes this one of the more interesting stories to watch in the coming season.  

Earnhardt Jr. Comfortable with Hendrick

There is an aura of confidence coming from NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver that has not been present for several years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. truly sounds like someone who believes he has a chance to win races and contend for a championship most certainly the by product of his best season in years. 

Earnhardt’s seventh place finish in the Sprint Cup standings but more importantly his flourishing relationship with crew chief Steve Letarte has the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet thinking about big things in 2012. 

“I’m relaxed,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I had a good offseason and I didn’t really have a whole lot of things going on. All I’ve got to think about is doing better than I did last year and are we doing what we need to do as a team to do that. I feel closer to winning races.

“I feel like the potential is there for us to make that happen, which is a good feeling…..gives me a lot of confidence that this year could be the year we get it done.” 

Of course getting it done means finally erasing the winless drought that has stretched to more than three years now. But Earnhardt and Letarte are well aware getting that goose egg off the board is a must this season. 

“2011 was a good year,” Letarte said. “I really, really enjoyed it. It was a really good year. I think it’s time for us now to have a great year. I think we need to get the zero out of the win column to have a great year.” 

Earnhardt believes there are several signs that point to the continued upward trend for this team in the coming campaign. 

“You just kind of keep trying,” he said. “Talent evolves in this sport, technology evolves in this sport and teams are good and somebody else comes and takes their spot. Hopefully we’re the next guys that go in that spot. That’s about all you can hope for.” 

“Boys Have at It” Revisited 

NASCAR officials addressed the sometimes controversial policy of letting drivers police themselves on the race track last week during the annual “State of the Sport” session that ended the tour. 

Somewhat surprisingly the sanctioning body appears ready to take a harder look at some of the behavior that in many minds went over the line last season. 

While the Kyle Busch-Ron Hornaday Texas truck incident got the most attention for NASCAR’s determination that the “Boys Have at It” line had been crossed, there were other altercations that have caught officials’ attention.

“The one thing that sticks in people’s mind is hooking a guy in the right rear,” said NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton. “Giving a guy a bumper shot and doing different things, there are differences in that. But the thing that becomes more clear to those of us who are discussing these matters, when you hook a guy in the right rear, that’s something that needs to get looked at.” 

While NASCAR most likely won’t get into the business of calling ticky tack fouls when drivers make incidental contact while racing hard, the flagrant and blatant actions coming as a means of retaliation and payback may have more ramifications in 2012.

Digital and Social Media

NASCAR, teams, drivers, sponsors and even media outlets all expressed the importance of digital and social media during the tour. 

More than ever Twitter, Facebook and online initiatives are shaping the face of the sport. 

The sanctioning body has made several internal hires to beef up its presence in social media and the deal to buy back its digital rights from Turner Broadcasting appears ready to pave the way for both television and radio broadcasts of NASCAR races to be streamed as early as this season.

Throw in the discussion about NASCAR’s new television contract that comes up for renewal in 2014 – which will again mean billions of dollars pumped into the sport – plus ratings, attendance as well as the economic climate impacting teams with sponsors and the business of racing is a extremely hot topic right now.

 
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Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:24 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 9:12 pm
 

Busch Brothers team up for Nationwide effort

By Pete Pistone



(The Busch Brothers will share driving duties in the No. 54 Toyota sponsored by Monster Energy in 2012)


AUDIO: LISTEN TO KURT BUSCH DISCUSS DRIVING FOR KYLE BUSCH MOTORSPORTS

It will be Busch Brothers "Shootout Style' in the Nationwide Series this season.

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced its 2012 plans on Thursday that will see brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch share time behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota.

Monster Energy will sponsor the effort, which will compete for the Nationwide Series owners' championship.

Kyle is slated to run 13-15 races with Kurt taking the wheel for the remainder of the 33 race schedule.

“I’m proud to be a part of it," Kurt said of joining his brother's organization. "He won a Truck Series championship in his first year, and his team has kept on winning ever since. Now, it’s moving to the Nationwide Series, where the bar will remain high. His expectations are the same as mine, and we know each other better than anyone. We’re driven to win, and with Monster Energy driving us, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

The starts in his own ride will be the only Nationwide Series races on Kyle's schedule this year as Sprint Cup owner Joe Gibbs "recommended" he curtail his participation in the JGR cars set to compete this season.

Kurt will augment his KBM Nationwide schedule with a handful of starts for his new Sprint Cup Series team owner James Finch's NWS entry and compete at restrictor plate tracks in the team's Chevrolet.

Veteran crew chief Mike Beam will call the shots for the KBM No. 54 ride this season.

"I am excited to join the KBM team and to have Monster Energy as our sponsor," stated Beam. "Kyle and Kurt are two of the best drivers in NASCAR. To contend for the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner's Championship with Monster Energy and to have all of the elements in place that make a great team, you can not help being excited to be a part of this."


 
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Posted on: January 13, 2012 6:07 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 6:08 pm
 

Friday Daytona media session highlights

By Pete Pistone

Several drivers and NASCAR officials spent time answering reporters' questions during Friday's second day of NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona Internaitonal Speedway. Here are some of the highlights from day two of the test:

KASEY KAHNE ON WHETHER HE DEMANDED CREW CHIEF KENNY FRANCIS JOIN HIM IN HIS MOVE TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

"I had a question earlier today: 'Was this something you demanded of Kenny Francis be your crew chief?' It really wasn't," Kahne said. "When I was talking to Mr. Hendrick – when we were getting the deal done – I told him, 'Man, Kenny is really good. He should be part of this place. It would be great if he was my crew chief.'

"And they're like, 'Yeah, we're going to look at it. We're going to figure it out.' And from there it was all them wanting Kenny Francis."


JIMMIE JOHNSON REGARDING THE ABSENCE OF CREW CHIEF CHAD KNAUS, WHO IS ON VACATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

“He’s been texting and emailing so there still is that communication taking place. We’ve got a very competent race team and everybody is following the test plan and we’re going through the motions. Truthfully, a lot of work for this test was done at the shop, getting prepared and now we’re just following the test plan.”

“It’s worked out well for Chad to take some time for himself. I’m really happy that he has decided to do this. As we all know, he doesn’t give himself much personal time. I’ve been on a similar trip to the one he’s on now and know how special it was to Chani and I. I can’t wait to hear stories when he gets back, what he goes through.”



MARK MARTIN ON HIS LIMITED SCHEDULE AND NEW RIDE AT MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING

“I've had a great off‑season. Had the time of my life with Hendrick Motorsports and made friends for life there. But this is a new challenge from an organization standpoint, a lot of new faces, and then a lot of guys I've worked with before. I couldn't believe it when I walked through the shop the first time. You can't believe how many people I've worked with before that are at MWR now."

“So it's just exactly where I want to be in life right now. I'm really excited, thrilled to have a company like Aaron's behind us, huge supporter of NASCAR racing, and I think it's going to be fun, the things that we're going to do, Michael and I are going to do. I'm expecting to do a lot of smiling this year.”



KURT BUSCH ON THE RELAXED ATMOSPHERE AT PHOENIX RACING AND HIS FIRST DAY AT THE RACE SHOP

"I said, 'Where's your beer cooler around here?' We went and started chit-chatting for the rest of the day about fun stories. That's what this is going to be about for me in 2012." 


NASCAR PRESIDENT MIKE HELTON ON THE DAYTONA TEST AND RULES COMING BACK TO DAYTONA FOR SPEEDWEEKS

"The proof in the pudding, the outcome, will be the Daytona 500. We have not seen anything that we dislike, but we know there’s other things that we’d like to see more of. The progress of the weekend, we’re in the middle of it right now. The progress of the weekend is going in the right direction.”

“Our goal and our responsibility is to try to make decisions so that the racing is as good as everybody expects it to be or better during the Daytona 500. That's the one variable that all the teams, once they get through doing everything they think they can accomplish and get done [here], all of them know [to] let's wait and see what NASCAR does. We have a reputation for [changing things], but it's all in the best interest of having the best racing on the race track that we can deliver.”

 

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