Busch Hasnt Forgotten Bristol

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – We all know Jimmy Spencer doesn’t forget. And we’re pretty sure Kurt Busch doesn’t either.

So what’s going to happen this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, the site of March’s Food City 500, when the Busch/Spencer feud reached its zenith? Busch says … nothing.

If he is put in the same position as in March, when Busch bumped Spencer out of the lead in the latter stages to claim his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory, Busch hinted that he’d do the same thing.

“I obviously have to watch myself, but there was nothing wrong with what I did last time,” Busch said. “So if I do it again, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Some media members might think there was something wrong with it. NASCAR might think there’s something wrong with it, so obviously, we’ve got to mind our P’s and Q’s around the 41 car, which is pathetic because we shouldn’t have to be put in that position.”

Doesn’t sound like the feud has simmered down any, does it? And remember, we’re only three races removed from the Brickyard 400, where Spencer – intentionally or not – punted Busch out of the race.

That incident drew both to the NASCAR hauler, where they were told to calm down. Easier said than done, given that this is Bristol – where qualifying gets underway Friday at 3 p.m. (ET) for Sunday’s Sharpie 500.

Bristol is a high-banked short track, and when you out 43 cars on it, there’s bound to be contact. When you put 43 Winston Cup cars going as fast as they can, there IS contact.

Winning here is as much about survival as it is about sheer speed. Being in the right place at the right time is crucial. One wrong move and – boom! – you’re in the wall. But survive and get to the front, and you have a chance.

“We got in an early accident that day and had to come in and take all the tape off the grille,” Busch said of his March victory. “We caved in the grille when somebody checked up, and I couldn’t stop in time. That put us dead last again, but we worked our way up through, and the car was quick enough to pass cars all day. Nobody ever passed us on the track.

“Spencer got a little rough with us and passed us, but we passed everybody all day. That put us in a position to come into the pits fifth with about 140 to go, and we came out third. We passed one car and got up to Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., who was leading. We were quicker than him at that point, and he ended up pitting because he knew he couldn’t win the race, and it was ours to lose. We had a fast enough car to put ourselves in that position, so you have to have all the elements go your way. You just cannot be a slow car and expect to win there, you’ve got to be fast.”

Busch has been fast plenty of times this season, but so far, he only the one victory.

“We dominated Fontana, and should have won that race, but Jimmie (Johnson) got by us with gas only on the last pit stop,” Busch said. “At Charlotte, we were leading with 80 laps to go and we dropped a cylinder. At Dover, we got a flat tire and went two laps down before we got both of them back and finished 12th. We had another flat tire at Loudon when we had a great race car, so we’ve just had some misfortune.

“I don’t know why we’ve had those flat tires because we haven’t been aggressive in our setups, but I guess it’s just part of the learning curve and part of the mistakes you make before things start going your way.”

And it proves how difficult it is to win a Winston Cup race.

“You have to have everything go your way, but the key is you can’t panic,” Busch said. “You have to take and absorb whatever bump comes your way, just like a shock absorber does, and get back on the track as quick as you can.”

Knowing how difficult it is to win makes going to victory lane even more special. Perhaps Busch was a little spoiled when he won in March, but he understands how special that was.

“It’s special to get to victory lane, and it does make you appreciate when you win,” Busch said. “You strive for it every weekend and the team bears down as hard as they can in digging for you, and it’s so great when you come together as a team and win a race. You don’t know when it’s gonna come again, but, then again, you can go on a streak of three or four in a row, so you take each day for what it’s worth and put your best foot forward.”

Busch will try that Sunday in the race that bears his sponsor’s name. Busch will be gunning to become the ninth driver to sweep both Bristol races, a feat accomplished last two years ago by Rusty Wallace.

“It’s a good feeling this time around,” Busch said. “It seems that many times you just go and expect to survive because it’s that tough. There’s no real strategy that you can have there to develop track position. Obviously, you want to qualify well so you stay towards the front, but it’s great to have a win there now.

“We think we’ve got a better understanding of the track and that builds more confidence, plus going back for the night race makes it that much more exciting. The fact it’s also the Sharpie 500 puts on a little added pressure, but we’re still going to have the same focus and that’s to run up front. If we are the best car at the end of the race, we’re going to go for it.”

And if Spencer is in the way … well, let the fun begin.

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