Winning Best Antidote for Busch
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on June 30, 2011 | 8:37 P.M. EST
"Like I’ve said, performance on the track is always the best antidote for putting all that aside." (Photo: Getty Images)
Kurt Busch is coming off his first win of the season and believes his performance on the track has been the best way to put behind some personal issues he's been facing.
Busch addressed the media Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Coke Zero 400 and confirmed that he and his wife Eva had separated and were going through a divorce. He admitted the challenges of trying to balance his personal problems with being competitive and successful on the race track.
“There are things going on at the personal level," Busch said. "There are things personal with the team that’s been well documented. Like I’ve said, performance on the track is always the best antidote for putting all that aside. I think the way that we’ve handled the situation of this sport; we’re really good at respecting one another. I’m happy that I’m an athlete in a sport that really cares about writing about our sport versus writing about our personal lives. The other sports get into the professional's lives in a very personal way and I’m glad that I’m in the NASCAR world to work with you guys and to respect that as well. It’s tough. We’re an entity, but I’m still a person.”
His road course win at Infineon Raceway last Sunday has Busch riding sky high as he heads into Saturday night's race.
Busch scored his first win of the season at Infineon Raceway, an effort that capped an incredible surge for the entire Penske Racing organization. His teammate Brad Keselowski kicked off June with a win at Kansas Speedway and Busch ended the month with a trip to Victory Lane in Sonoma.
The performance has Busch feeling very well about his chances for a second straight checkered flag on Saturday night.
“The confidence level is high for everyone inside this Penske Racing team because of the hard work and success we’ve enjoyed in recent weeks,” said Busch. “We want to keep it going this week and what better place than Daytona.”
When the Sprint Cup Series last visited Daytona for Speedweeks in February, Busch and his Shell/Pennzoil Dodge were one of the most competitive teams on track. Busch won the Budweiser Shootout as well as his Gatorade Duel qualifying race only to come up just short of the Speedweeks sweep with a fifth-place finish in the Daytona 500.
While he was pleased with the overall effort, Busch remembers ultimately feeling disappointed when he left Daytona.
“We had won the Budweiser Shootout and won our Thursday qualifying race so we had so much confidence and momentum rolling into the Daytona 500,” said Busch, who will start his 43rd Sprint Cup plate race at Daytona on Saturday still looking for that elusive Cup points race victory. “The 500 is our Super Bowl and all the hype was crazy around our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team. No team had ever claimed all three Cup race winner’s trophies in a single Speedweeks.”
Busch believes that can change on Saturday in the annual Fourth of July weekend trip to Daytona. However, he is quick to point out there’s an even picture to keep in mind.
“We certainly want to finally win us one of these things, that’s for sure,” Busch said. “But, we still have to keep focus on this season and what it’s going to take to move forward in the effort to make the Chase this year. We need to win races because that will be so important come September. At the same time, we have to stay consistent in posting the top-five finishes and top-10s.”
Trying to balance between both goals is a challenge that Busch knows can be difficult.
“The bottom line is that we have to go after those race wins as hard as we can, but still exercise conservatism, if you want to call it that,” he said. “Unlike the guys back there in 15th to 20th in the points who can gamble on fuel mileage and roll the dice out there in every race, we have to look at it as the big goal of completing all the laps and getting the best possible finish we can in every race.”
Crew chief Steve Addington echoes his driver’s view of what’s on the line in the coming weeks as the “Race to the Chase” begins Saturday with only ten races left to decide this year’s playoff field.
However, Addington is confident in Busch’s ability and likes the team’s chances to get to victory lane at Daytona.
“As great of driver as Kurt is on the plate tracks, it’s difficult to understand how he still hasn’t won a points race there,” said Addington. “He’s definitely one of the top-five plate racers and is really in his element out there. He knows what he’s doing and it’s incredible what he can do with his race car, especially when it comes down to the final few laps.”
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