Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), knows a thing or two about winning non-points-paying races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Of the 16 drivers currently qualified for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch is one of only seven who has scored victories in each of the three exhibition races on the schedule. Those would be the All-Star Race at Charlotte, and two events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway – the Can-Am Duels that set the starting field for the Daytona 500, and the Sprint Unlimited, which is the non-points race that kicks off the Sprint Cup season there each year.
Both of Busch’s wins at Daytona came in 2011. His win in the Sprint Unlimited came after he swept past Ryan Newman off the final turn, thanks to drafting help from Jamie McMurray. In claiming the checkered flag, he became the 19th different winner of the event which began in 1979. Although it wasn’t a points-paying win, it was the first restrictor-plate victory of Busch’s career. Five days later, Busch again drove into victory lane, this time in the first Can-Am Duel. He started sixth and drafted with Regan Smith all afternoon en route to earning the win.
And, in a race where drama is always at a premium because the race’s competitors have a million reasons to go to victory lane, Busch’s win in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was no exception. He started the $1 million-to-win race from the pole and brushed the wall early, but was able to get back to the front of the field after the final mandatory pit stop before the 10-lap shootout to the finish. He went on to avoid a multicar accident late in the race en route to his first All-Star Race victory.
This weekend, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion is ready to earn his second All-Star title.
Unlike any other race, the All-Star Race is about the fame, the glory and a cool $1 million. And with no points on the line, Busch and his crew can do what it takes to earn the win in this unique event.
This year’s All-Star format will include two 50-lap segments with mandatory green-flag pit stops to shuffle the field. It will culminate with a 13-lap dash, with an added element sure to create an exciting finish. Prior to the start of the final segment, a random draw will decide whether the top nine, 10 or 11 cars will enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop. The rest will stay out on older tires and lead the field to green for the final segment. Cars with four new tires will line up behind those with older tires. It all adds up to a fight-to-the-front finish for $1 million.
It’s a simple format, really – checkers or wreckers. Bring back the trophy or bring back the steering wheel.