If statistics carry any meaning in motorsports, then Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. would be one the best tracks for Kurt Busch to continue his momentum following a stalwart fourth-place performance at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS.
Of the 23 venues that comprise the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule, the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway is where Busch has achieved his best finishing average – 12.7 in 19 career starts.
The former NASCAR champion’s record at the Southern California facility also includes one win (2003), four top-fives, nine top-10s, three poles and 231 laps led. He posted a ninth-place finish last year at Auto Club Speedway, driving the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing.
“The Bristol finish was no doubt a morale lift and gave our Furniture Row Racing team an opportunity to settle in and build on the foundation of the top-10s we achieved in last year’s final three races,” said Busch. “The key is to continue the momentum at Auto Club Speedway, which has been good to me in the past.”
Busch added, “The bottom line is that our Furniture Row Racing team has the potential to succeed. We have a great crew chief in Todd Berrier and I am glad that he is steering our ship.”
The fourth-place Bristol finish vaulted Busch from 29th to 16th in the driver point standings, a pick-up of 13 positions.
Going from a short track at Bristol to Auto Club Speedway’s ultra-fast track will be another challenge for the 43 drivers who will start Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
“Auto Club Speedway will test us on the drag that we have built into our cars because the straightaways are really long there,” explained Busch. “It’s a fast track, especially going into turn one over 200 miles per hour. You definitely feel the speed there.
“When you’re in the center of turn one your first thought is to slow down because you’re going so fast. That’s when you realize you’re covering a lot of ground very quickly. The key is to not overdrive turn one and to get the car turned, rotated and the power put down off of turn two.”
With a rare off week following the California race, Busch says it’s another reason you want to leave the Auto Club 400 with a solid performance.
“You want to enjoy the off week and only dwell on the positives,” noted Busch. “You sure don’t want an extra week to think about a subpar performance. We made a nice leap in the standings after Bristol and another strong performance could put us in or close to the top-10 in points.”