Being involved in the Chase mix with four races to go before the NASCAR playoffs begin, Kurt Busch’s current aim is to find a happy medium at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 Sprint Cup Series event.
Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS, is positioned in 11th place in the standings, two points out of 10th.
“Right now we find ourselves in a great position,” said Busch the 2004 NASCAR champion. “We need to be consistent and continue to finish with top 10s and top fives. I am not biting my fingernails - I've been in this position before. We have to stay calm, control what we can control and race our way into the Chase.”
But for the 35-year-old Busch he will need to overcome a string of bad races at Michigan, where he has not had a finish better than 30th in his last four appearances at the 2-mile oval.
“Michigan over the years has been one of my best tracks and one of my worst tracks,” said Busch, who is a two-time Michigan winner. “When we raced at Michigan in June we qualified second, ran up front, led laps (21) and then spun out. When we’re back in traffic it’s crazy how the aero side of that track will jump up and bite you. Just because you’re going 200 miles per hour you get a little sideways with that fresher asphalt and the track can chew you up and spit you out.”
Busch feels the team is more confident and in better shape for its return trip to Michigan.
“We have notes, we have data and we know what we did wrong and what we did right at Michigan in June and that will be a big plus for us this weekend,” explained Busch, who is in his first full season with Furniture Row Racing “It’s like Pocono. Back in June we finished seventh at Pocono and then came back to finish third two weeks ago. What we learned in the first Pocono race definitely helped us improve in the second race.”
Busch’s overall record at Michigan is: 25 starts, two wins, three top-fives, eight top-10s, two poles and 380 laps led. His average start is 12.4 and average finish is 22.0.
Busch also feels his Denver-based, single-car team has hit a new level after finishing ninth in Sunday’s road race in Watkins Glen, N.Y. It was Busch's 10th top-10 finish of the season.
“We weren’t happy with ninth at Watkins Glen, we expected a better finish,” stated Busch. “But when you finish ninth on an off day that’s a sign that we’ve come a long way in a short period of time. Last year we would have been high-fiving each other after a ninth-place finish.”