Two-car tandem racing has become a feature at Daytona and Talladega, with drivers working together to gain the highest speed possible around the track. In this two-car collaboration the trailing driver pushes the lead car around the track. Due to the position of the cars, the driver doing the pushing has a limited view of the road ahead and relies on the leader to make the right moves. However, the close proximity of the two cars can lead to overheating, and so the pusher needs to trade places with the leader from time to time. The temporary breaking of the pusher-leader partnership causes a dramatic reduction in speed for both cars and is potentially hazardous.
Three days of testing at Daytona saw NASCAR trying to break this two-car tandem racing pattern, and revert to the pack racing format that auto racing fans enjoy the most. During the testing, Kyle Busch clocked a 205.813 mph in a pack racing format, while Regan Smith and Kurt Busch formed a two-car tandem, with Kurt Busch clocking an incredible time of 206.058 mph.
Bearing in mind that NASCAR has traditionally been against exceeding speeds of 200 mph, four-time series champion Jeff Gordon reportedly queried the high speeds being achieved on the track, and was assured by NASCAR officials that they have no problem with the new record speeds. Nevertheless, with pack racing bringing in the fans, in November last year NASCAR Chairman Brian France made it clear that he wants drivers to move away from two-car tandem racing, so in addition to a series of changes to rules governing aerodynamics of racing cars, driver-to-driver communications over their scanners has been banned.
While a number of changes have been made during testing, with drivers and their teams kept informed all along the way, it is very likely that more changes will be made before the much anticipated Speedweeks begin, with the iconic Daytona 500 taking place on February 26. NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton noted that while there may be some loose ends to tie up as they make final plans for Speedweeks, and was reported as saying that “everything is going according to plan.”
Auto racing fans like nothing better than nail-biting rivalry right through to the checkered flag, and the AAA400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday October 2nd provided plenty of action and excitement as Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson battled for first place. The race ended with Busch taking first place by 0.908 of a second, and Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards coming in at second and third. As the third event in the ten-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, this was the 24th Cup victory of Busch’s career, and his first at Dover International Speedway.
In chilly, overcast weather loyal NASCAR fans at Dover watched as drivers competed for victory. As reigning Cup champion, a position he has held for five years, Jimmie Johnson held the lead for most of the laps of the race, until a double-file restart with 42 laps to go, and a second restart seven laps later, saw Busch move into first place and stay there. Although Johnson never did close the gap between himself and Busch after the restarts, his efforts to do so made for some exciting on-track action.
Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch have quite a history on the race track, with close rivalry on the track spilling over into some controversial post-race verbal sparring. However, in a post-race interview on Sunday, Johnson acknowledged that Busch had done a better job than him on the restarts, thereby giving him the advantage. In turn Busch is reported as stating that beating his arch-nemesis was “icing on the cake”, but pointed out that there is still a long way to go in the series and they would be focusing on future events. Both drivers played down the aspect of personal rivalry, with Johnson noting that they had raced “hard and clean”.
Following Sunday’s race the 2011 Sprint Cup standings have Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards in first place with 2122 points each, while Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch follow with 2113 points each. Jimmie Johnson is in fifth place with 2109 points, followed by Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth, both with 2108 points. Eighth place goes to Kyle Busch (2107 points), ninth to Jeff Gordon (2103 points) and tenth spot to Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2088 points). The next event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 9, 2011.
On Sunday, 26 June 2011, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continued with the hosting of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, which took place at the Infineon Raceway. With twenty-three Cup victories behind his name, Kurt Busch showed his worth and determination by delivering a winning road course performance, and snatching the victory away from Jeff Gordon by just under four seconds. The race was driven over seventy-six laps and was a vital moment in the series for the Penske Racing Team, as well as for Busch.
Over the last month, there has been a lot of activity behind the scenes of the Penske Racing Team, struggling to find their feet and making changes to their personnel to try and overcome some of the problems they were facing. On Sunday, all their hard work paid off as Kurt Busch crossed the finish line. The race was not without its own troubles and unfortunate incidents, keeping spectators on the edges of their seats. One of the most notable accidents for the day was between Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart. A small nudge from Vickers sent Stewart heading straight for the tires, and as his spinning car came to an abrupt halt against the tires, he lost the entire rear of his car. This retaliation came from Stewart nudging Vickers earlier, as he felt Vickers was blocking, but his actions did cause a multi car pileup.
Many speculated that the conflict between Busch and his team, due to poor performances, might break the back of the Penske Racing Team. But it seems that the outburst only made the team more determined to get back on track, and over the last few weeks the improvements have been noticeable. After ten starts, Busch was still without a victory and facing a road course was a daunting task. However, Busch and his team were able to pull off a victory, leaving Jeff Gordon to be content with second place.
Third place was taken by Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer crossed the finish line in fourth position. Approximately ninety-three thousand fans turned up to watch this racing spectacular and they were not disappointed, as the race was filled with unfortunate incidents, driver feuds and unexpected victory. No one can argue that Sunday’s race was probably one of the most action packed races of the series so far.
Kurt Busch was born in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 4, 1978 and is well known as a NASCAR driver. In the Nextel Cup Series he pilots the #2 Miller Lite Dodge and on a part time basis drives the #39 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the Busch Series. The first NASCAR championship that Kurt won was in 2004, and in 2005 he drove the #97 Sharpie/Irwin Industrial Tools Ford for Roush Racing. With a win in the Busch Series he became one of sixteen drivers to win the top three NASCAR divisions.
Kurt Busch gained his first national exposure in 1998 at the Tucson Raceway Park during the Winter Heat Series, and following the tragic death of Chris Trickle who was killed in a drive-by shooting, Busch was accepted into the team where he proceeded to win the 1999 AutoZone Elite Division Southwest Series championship.
In 2000, at the age of 21 years, Busch started racing on the Winston Cup circuit. Here he drove in seven races but had dismal year-ends with no wins, no top five’s or top ten’s, finishing 48th altogether. In 2001 Kurt Busch ran for rookie of the year honors but won no races, however he did receive 3 top 5’s and 6 top 10’s. Kurt also achieved his first pole positioning when he gave the quickest qualifying lap in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and finished the year in 27th position. Busch almost won the 2002 championship finishing 3rd that year. The next year was inconsistent with good wins and bad losses, and was made worse with his continuing feud with fellow driver, Jimmy Spencer.
In 2004 Busch became the second driver to sweep both races at Loudon in one season. His achievements for the season included three wins, two poles, 10 top-fives, 21 top-tens and winning the inaugural NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship. Midway through 2005, Busch made known that he would moving from Roush Racing to drive the #2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing South (now Penske Championship Racing). He claimed three wins during 2005, with nine top-fives and 18 top-tens, finishing 10th in the final standings.
Driving for Penske in the 2006 season, Busch scored one win at Bristol Motor Speedway, being his fifth win at the track. He also earned six poles, 7 top-fives and 12 top-tens, finishing 16th in the final standings. In 2007 he qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, as well as clocking up two wins, one pole, 5 top-fives and 10 top-tens. 2008 saw some reshuffling of points in the Penske team to ensure Busch’s rookie team-mate Sam Hornish Jr clinched a starting spot in the first five races of the season. Busch claimed his fourth win for Penske Racing when he was in the lead of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 that was called on lap 284 due to rain.
2009 got off to a bad start with a multi-car wreck at the 2009 Daytona 500 in which Busch’s car was damaged. He nevertheless managed to finish tenth. He went on to qualify fourth for the second race of the season at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway, where he ran in the top five for most of the race, finishing fifth. Later in the year he claimed victory at the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 after leading 235 of the race’s 325 laps. By March 2010, Kurt Busch had achieved four starts, one win, one pole, one top-five and 2 top-tens for the season, as he continues to drive for Penske Racing alongside team-mates Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish.
Roush Racing became Roush Fenway Racing in February 2007, when the Fenway Sports Group obtained a 50% partnership in the team.
One of the NASCAR’s most successful racing teams is undoubtedly Roush Racing. Starting as a small branch of an already successful automotive engineering and road-racing equipment business, it was founded by owner Jack Roush in 1988. His operation is in Livonia, in Michigan, but the cornerstone of Roush Racing is located in Concord, situated in North Carolina, and home to their NASCAR operations.
Since the start of Roush Racing they have only competed in cars that carry the Ford badge. In the Nextel Cup, Roush competes with the Ford Fusion, and the Ford Fusion can also be seen in the Busch Series. For the Craftsman Truck Series, Roush competes with a Ford F-150. Roush Racing is also the proud winner of the Nextel Cup Championship consecutively for two years. Matt Kenseth brought the win home in 2003 and Kurt Busch was responsible for the win in 2004.
It is not surprising that Roush has the biggest Nextel Cup Series operation that includes a part time team and five teams that are full time. When Roush Racing was founded, they had established the company around the ownership of five cars. This does not only benefit the Roush Racing team, but assists other teams with the sharing of information and of resources, including the improvements that are made to performance. A partnership between Robert Yates Racing and Roush Racing led to the 2004 season car being provided with Roush-Yates Engines. This team effort is now known to produce some of the most impressive engines that NASCAR has seen.
Roush Racing’s very first car that raced in NASCAR was their No.6 Stroh’s Light Ford. The year was 1988 and the race was the Daytona 500. After suffering engine failure after 19 laps, driver Mark Martin found himself finishing in 41st place. This unfortunate event did not discourage Martin in any way, and later in the season he had won a pole position and found himself achieving ten finishes in the top 10. In 1989, with one year of experience, Martin and Roush showed the NASCAR world exactly what they were up against by taking six pole positions, increasing their top 10 position finishes to 18 and securing a win at the North Carolina Speedway. In addition to these successes, the championship points put them in third place.
And as the old saying goes: ‘The rest is history’. Roush Fenway Racing is a name that is known worldwide and has grown into one of the biggest success stories of all time. It is a name that has delivered only the best, and has left its mark on NASCAR for years to come.