In a little over two weeks since officially joining Furniture Row Racing as the driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet, Kurt Busch’s feelings about the future of the Colorado-based team have already increased a few levels on the excitement meter.
“We’ve been in two races and conducted three test sessions during this short period of time together, and we’re already seeing progress as we are getting prepped for the 2013 season,” said Busch. “Everyone is upbeat and the adrenalin is flowing at a faster pace. We’re having fun.”
Part of Furniture Row Racing’s demanding schedule since Busch came on board was a short track test session in preparation for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
The short track test session was conducted at the low-banking, half-mile Sandusky (Ohio) Speedway, a similar layout to the .526-mile Martinsville track.
“Martinsville hasn’t been one of my best venues and it was important to get some testing in with the Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet,” noted Busch. “Overall I was pleased with the Sandusky test and hopefully that will translate into something positive this weekend at Martinsville.”
While Busch concedes that Martinsville’s flat track has not been good to him with an average finish of 21.3 in 24 career starts, he has had some strong results at the historic venue, including a victory in the 2002 fall race.
“The victory at Martinsville was indeed special, but to be honest, I’ve had more thumbs down than thumbs up performances there,” said Busch. “Overall, things just haven’t worked out for me at Martinsville.”
What Busch would like to see in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 is a repeat performance – minus the bad luck – of the previous Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway.
After qualifying 29th at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval, Busch charged to the front and was running in the top-five by lap 90 of 267. But a few major incidents, including car damage as a result of getting collected in a multicar accident and later a blown tire with 11 laps remaining, stymied his progress as he settled for a 25th-place result.
“The finish was disappointing at Kansas, but the performance was encouraging,” said Furniture Row Racing crew chief Todd Berrier. “Kurt’s driving skills were impressive to watch, and the more we work together, the better we will become. We’re learning about each other and feel good about what we’ve accomplished in a very short period of time.”
Along with the Sandusky test, Busch and the No. 78 team tested two days in Kansas last week, two days in Phoenix this week and will conduct a two-day test next month in Charlotte.