Busch Back to Feeling Competitive

Kurt Busch

"Pocono has always been a good track for me." (Photo: Getty Images)

After several weeks of challenges Kurt Busch believes the Penske Racing team is once again headed in the right direction.

Busch started from the pole and led 152 laps in last Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, ultimately getting swept up in fuel mileage strategy down the stretch and forced to pit road late in the race.

He did hang on to finish ninth and that coupled with teammate Brad Keselowski’s win has Busch excited about the team’s performance.

"I'm proud of the way that this team has run," Busch said. "To have a car to lead laps today and be very competitive, I was all smiles. I felt coming into the weekend that if we could pace ourselves, have good team communication, we would be competitive. It was great.

"There was always something in the back of my mind today that we weren't going to win, but I'm glad that Brad Keselowski got this win for those Miller Lite guys, for Dodge."

Busch remains in the sixth spot of the Sprint Cup Series point standings heading into Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway.

The former series champion has enjoyed considerable success at the 2.5-mile triangular track during his career.

In 20 races at Pocono, Busch has recorded two wins, seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. Entering this weekend's race, he has a 12.4 average start and a 16.8 average finish. He has led a total of 371 laps at Pocono and has a 94.394 percent lap completion average (3,671 of 3,889 laps). Busch has been running at the finish in 16 races (four DNFs) and has finished on the lead lap in 12 of the races.

With that track record to go along with his team’s recent surge, Busch is looking forward to heading to the Pocono Mountains this weekend.

"Pocono has always been a good track for me and I really enjoy heading up that way," Busch said. "It's a fun part of our season and how it kicks off the summer stretch - the first part of June and then we come back in August. They call it the ‘tricky triangle' and it truly has always been that way.”

The track’s three unique corners are a challenge and Busch says running well through each is important for a successful afternoon.

"Sometimes you think Turn 1 is more important," Busch said. "Sometimes you think that Turn 2 is where you can make up some time. Since we haven't shifted there in quite a while now, Turn 3 seems to be important because it leads to the longest straightaway. It just depends. You have to be good in all three corners if you want to have success; you can't favor one versus the other. Then, there are the guys who say that you are really looking at a six-turn track with the entry and exit to each leg. Regardless, it's a challenge and we really enjoy trying to tackle it every time we get in there to race."

And as has been the case many times in the season’s first 13 races, fuel mileage strategy is also an element to having a good run at Pocono.

"Just like we've seen at a lot of these intermediate-sized tracks, it seems to add to the concern about fuel mileage," said Busch of the massive Pocono track layout. "With green-white-checker finishes and the double-file restarts, you certainly can have ample excitement there.

“Then you have to throw in the fact that we have six-, seven -wide down the front stretch on restarts there. The track gets really exciting near the end of the race. As always, that's what we have to fight hard for again this Sunday. We have to work to get in position during the first 400 miles and really be able to shake it down at the end in those final 100 miles."

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kurt Busch

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