Busch Readies for New Chapter

Kurt Busch

Busch, who unveiled his new colors last week in Las Vegas, will test the new Dodge Charger nose next week at Daytona. (Photo: Autostock)

Kurt Busch is set to begin the next era of his career at Penske Racing when he moves to the colors of the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge No. 22 entry in 2011.

After spending his tenure with Penske behind the wheel of the iconic No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, Busch will carry the new colors of Shell/Pennzoil next season with the No. 22 entry in the organization’s stable.

With crew chief Steve Addington returning to call the shots, Busch is hoping to build upon some of the success the team accomplished in 2010.

However, Busch acknowledges that changes were needed in order to take the team to the next level.

“Well, we had a strong start to our season with wins at Atlanta and the sweep the Charlotte race weekends,” Busch said. “And the second half of the year, the way we looked at our first half after the evaluation, we thought we needed everything the same, and that wasn't the case.

“So we've got quite a few things happening here in the off season with structural design changes to the chassis, personnel changes, and just trying to be as competitive and as sharp as we can be through this off season to make sure that we start off next year right where we were last year.”

While overall pleased with the status of his team and the Penske operation, Busch understands that change needs to be a constant part of the cycle in order to stay competitive in the top level of NASCAR racing.

“Thinking sometimes when things are going well that you've got to sit there when you should be continuing to make changes and not get stagnant, so maybe that's one thing that hurt us in the second half of last year,” Busch said reflecting on his 2010 effort. “But with new brands coming aboard and such a new outlook for next year, driving the No 22 car, we've got to hit the track running strong and get that exposure for all of our new great sponsors.”

Although the series has been idle since the final checkered flag of the season fell at Homestead three weeks ago, Busch and the organization have been anything but idle during the off-season.

“Well, it's been a busy off season for me already, just with the new sponsor announcement, with Shell Pennzoil, of course with AAA and Auto Club and just the new look on the 22 car,” Busch said of his itinerary. “We've got production days, commercial shoots, some different radio calls and voice overs.

“It's really an exciting time to be in this industry, in auto racing, and to be going through some of the downfalls of sponsorship availability, it's great to have these strong partners come aboard at Penske Racing to keep us busy and to let us know that we're wanted, and we want to be part of this great team.”

Busch and teammate Brad Keselowski will be taking part in a pair of off-season test sessions at Daytona International Speedway, the first a Goodyear test next weekend and then a few days back at “The World Center of Racing” in an open session the third week of January.

The former series champion believes the two trips to Daytona this winter will be important factors in preparation for an assault on the 2011 Sprint Cup championship and a victory in the Daytona 500.

“I know for us at Penske Racing with the 2 and the 22, we need to be there on track, gathering data, understanding as much as we can about the new surface at Daytona,” Busch said. “We know that it's the most prestigious race for us all year long, and if we can come out of the gates strong, we need to have as many test sessions at tracks as we can get, and that means tracks that we race on.

“Of course we're going to have to head to some other short tracks to get some more information. We have to continue to push hard, and I don't think it costs all that much out of our budgets to head down to Daytona and shake some cars down getting ready for the Daytona 500.”

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kurt Busch

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