Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway is one of only two racetracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit where restrictor plates are used. By definition, a restrictor plate is a device installed at the air intake of an engine to limit its power. The use of a restrictor plate both limits speed and increases safety, all in the spirit of providing an equal level of competition. Races at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, are ones that, literally, anyone can win. Horsepower-choked engines require drivers to draft together, side-by-side at speeds approaching 200 mph.
Superspeedway events can produce wild, unpredictable racing with the possibility of large, multicar wrecks at any moment.
Some drivers elect to drop to the back of the pack and ride, waiting until the late stages of the race to make their move toward the front of the field. Other drivers will do whatever they can to stay at the front of the field throughout the race. Other drivers find themselves stuck in the middle, an area that can be somewhat of a disaster zone.
One driver will win the race. Most drivers typically finish. Others will be involved in the almost inevitable “big one” – a multicar accident that typically eliminates multitudes of drivers prematurely.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has been listed as running at the end of 27 of 28 career points-paying Sprint Cup starts at Daytona. Considering the unpredictability of the races run there, it is an incredible statistic. While he’s seemingly mastered the art of finishing Daytona races, it’s the finishing first part he’s yet to figure out. In fact, a superspeedway win is the only kind that has eluded him during his 16-year Sprint Cup career. With a victory this weekend, Busch would join an elite list of drivers who have won at every type of track on the Sprint Cup circuit: superspeedway, speedway, intermediate, short track and road course.
Busch enters Daytona this weekend in prime positon not only to build on his impressive statistics at the famed 2.5-mile racetrack, but also to finally check the box and score a victory at a superspeedway. Busch has been listed as running in his last 19 races, and has only finished outside the top-15 once since being paired with crew chief Tony Gibson in late 2014.
With the “win-and-you’re-in” Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship format, Busch doesn’t have to worry about where he’s running in relation to drivers he is challenging in the point standings. Nor does he have to make moves if he simply doesn’t feel that he’s in a position to do so safely. With two victories this season, Busch and the Haas Automation team have little to worry about in terms of making the Chase. They can head to Daytona focused solely on one goal – being in positon near the front of the pack when it’s time to race for the checkered flag.