Busch Back To Bristol

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You'd think with four wins in his last six starts, Bristol Motor Speedway would be the last place Kurt Busch would need to test. But there was the 2004 NEXTEL Cup Series champion last week, racing his Roush Racing Sharpie Ford around the empty half-mile track in a test session.

"Bristol has been a good place for us," Busch said. "We’ve won the last three (Food City 500 races) here, and we’re shooting for four in a row. To do that, we needed to come back and test."

Not many people thought Busch's breakthrough victory in the 2002 Food City 500 would lead to a three race winning streak in Bristol's Spring Cup race. But he has rattled off wins in 2003 and 2004 and tries for a fourth straight in Sunday's fifth race of the season.

But despite the past success, Busch and crew chief Jimmy Fennig decided to not leave anything to chance and use one of the team's testing dates at Bristol.

"Jimmy and I have worked together for four years now," Busch said. "It’s time to go back to some of these tracks that we haven’t been to in a while just to get our notes updated. Bristol is a track we haven’t tested at since I was a rookie. Even though we probably would have been okay in the race if we hadn’t tested, we’re able to go there and try new things since we are so comfortable with the track. Jimmy had some ideas and we were able to get some good feedback. Now we're looking for a spectacular run instead of just a solid run.

"We’ve noticed that our (Bristol) setup has been somewhat the same, and we know that the setup for everybody else has changed, so we’re hoping to establish a setup that will still enable us to go to the front and run consistent lap times with these new tires."

NASCAR's new "impound" rule will be in effect at Bristol this weekend with the NEXTEL Cup cars locked in the garage area immediately after Friday's qualifying session until race morning. The new system adds a new wrinkle to the Bristol weekend that Busch and Fennig hope to have figured out.

"We’ve struggled with qualifying during the impound races at Fontana and Atlanta," said Busch. "We’ve run 20th and 25th so far, so we tried a few things to make the car a little more balanced when we qualify in race setup."

Darrell Waltrip holds the all-time track record at Bristol with 12 wins, while Dale Earnhardt posted nine victories.

"It’s exciting to see my names compared with those guys," Busch said. "I’m not really trying to break those records. I’m just trying to compete with what my team has given me."

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