MOORESVILLE, N.C., (Feb. 15, 2012) – Sometimes it’s good to get back to your roots. And for 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, the 2012 season will involve just that.
Busch begins his 12th full Sprint Cup season driving the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing, a team unlike any other he has driven for in the Sprint Cup Series.
While most NASCAR teams are based within 10 or 20 miles of the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C., Phoenix Racing is located in Spartanburg, S.C., about 80 miles to the southwest. They aren’t a big team and have a smaller shop and fewer employees than most full-time organizations. But, they do more with less, and that’s just fine with Busch, who has never been afraid to roll up his sleeves and gets his hands dirty.
Since joining Phoenix Racing in late December 2011, Busch has made the 80-minute drive from his home in Mooresville, N.C., to the Phoenix Racing shop two or three times a week. And during those drives, Busch has discovered that going simple has brought more fun.
He’s as relaxed and loose as ever before and has quickly endeared himself to the tight-knit group at Phoenix Racing that was thrilled to hear that a Sprint Cup champion and 24-race winner wanted to race for them.
Busch has not only spent his time at the shop getting to know his new teammates, he’s helped them prepare the cars – specifically the No. 51 TAG Heuer Avant-Garde Eyewear Chevrolet Impala Busch will pilot in the non-points Budweiser Shootout Saturday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, and the No. 51 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Impala he will use in the 54th Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 at Daytona.
He’s even helping the team assemble the No. 51 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Impala he will drive in the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Feb. 25 at Daytona.
While Busch is having fun, he knows that racing can be a lot of fun when winning is involved. And he and Phoenix Racing should be contenders at Daytona. Phoenix Racing’s lone Sprint Cup victory came at Daytona’s sister track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, in April 2009 with Brad Keselowski driving, while Busch has 12 top-10 finishes in 22 point-paying starts at Daytona, including runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Last year, he won the Budweiser Shootout and the first of the two 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifying races.
It’s a new year with an old-school look for Busch, but he’s chasing a new prize that exudes the old-school lore of Daytona – the Harley J. Earl Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Daytona 500.