Busch Settles In

It's a strange sight to see the Miller Lite Dodge come to a stop in the garage area and watch Kurt Busch crawl out of the car.

After Rusty Wallace made a name for himself in the ride for more than a decade, catching a glimpse of Busch strolling around in his Miller driving suit just doesn't seem right.

To everyone expect Busch.

"You have to almost smack me to knock the smile off my face," Busch says. "I'm having a great time."

After his 2005 season ended in a storm of controversy, including a two race suspension from former car owner Jack Roush after a reckless driving offense in Phoenix last November, Busch has been chomping at the bit to get back into a racecar.

"To get back in the car has been cool," Busch said. "Our first test was at Lakeland, Fla., on Jan. 2 and we've been testing twice a week since then. That's the best medicine. I'm ready to go. It's important to get off to a good start and get those points and have the foundation built. That's what we're focusing on one step at a time. We'll see what happens when we try to position ourselves to win."

NASCAR's new testing policy will restrict the number of tests this season, making Las Vegas an important session. Busch knows what's on the line this week at the 1.5-mile track.

"There's no more important test than the Vegas (test)," Busch said. "Because now testing at racetracks we race on, the next test the teams have will be in May, and that's very far down the line. We've got a ton of races between that time, which will be at Richmond in May. We've got quite a bit of guessing to get through the next part of the season, and that's why this test is very important."

The Las Vegas native would like nothing more than to get a win before his hometown crowd when the series comes back to LVMS in March. Busch thinks the planned renovations for the track will make it an even more special place for him.

"I thought the state bird was a construction crane," Busch cracked. "They keep continuing on with new developments. You see buildings fall all the time. What Bruton's vision is here is something very exciting, and I agree with it 100 percent."

"(He wants) to create more of a side-by-side racing atmosphere with racing the banking, to have pit road that much closer to the fans, to have more interaction. Then to see the new media center and new garages... Racetracks have somewhat gone away from building charisma and building an identity. They all seem to look the same."

"I'm an historian. I like to go to Wrigley Field and watch games there and enjoy it. Fans are going to get a new perspective when they come to Las Vegas Motor Speedway that's so much different from all the other tracks. That's what it's all about, putting a new face on it for the fans."

Busch is the new face at Penske Racing, but hopes to be a familiar one in victory lane this season.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2006, Kurt Busch

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