After being based 11 days in Daytona Beach, Fla. for the season opening Daytona 500, Kurt Busch returns to his racing roots for a pair of Sprint Cup races in two of the most famous desert cities.
First on the Sprint Cup Series docket is Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The series will head north the following week to Busch’s hometown of Las Vegas for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Always a great feeling to get back to where I grew up and learned this trade of auto racing,” said Busch, who has completed 99.7 percent of laps in Cup races at Phoenix (6299 of 6317). “I have many fond memories racing in the southwest – the roots are deep.”
Joining Busch as an associate sponsor on his No. 78 Chevrolet SS for the Phoenix race will be Beautyrest, the Atlanta-based manufacturer of premium mattresses, which are sold at Denver Mattress locations nationwide. It will be the first of seven races that Beautyrest will have associate sponsorship on the No. 78.
“We had a strong run in Phoenix back in November and we look for the same or better in our Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet on Sunday,” said Busch, winner of the 2005 spring race at Phoenix. “Beautyrest is one of the best of the better brands and they obviously deserve a solid performance.”
Busch and Furniture Row Racing are expecting nothing less than a solid performance at Phoenix’s one-mile oval. Busch drove the Furniture Row car to an eighth place finish at Phoenix in November, and had it not been for a loose lug nut on one pit stop and a fiery final-lap accident, the finish could have been better.
“We were strong in Phoenix both in qualifying (6th) and the race,” recalled Busch. “I’ve always enjoyed racing in Phoenix, it got a little more challenging since the reconfiguration, but a good kind of challenge. The new Gen-6 car could also throw us a few curves, which should make it more interesting.
“Phoenix is also a place where you can see multiple strategies play out. A two-tire stop could be left-sides. You’re going to have to adapt to the conditions and situation and probably will have to call a few audibles along the way.”
Busch has tackled the Phoenix mile 20 times in his Sprint Cup career. He has one win (April 2005), four top-fives, 11 top-10s and has led 750 laps. His average start is 13.0 and average finish 13.2.
Busch is coming off a 28th-place finish in the Daytona 500. He was collected in an early multicar wreck, causing serious front-end damage to the car's grille. After a couple of unscheduled pit stops to make repairs, Busch fell six laps down.