Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn as both the defending winner of the FireKeepers Casino 400 and as the most recent Sprint Cup Series race winner, having claimed the checkered flag in Monday’s rain-postponed Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Monday’s victory put Busch in a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rex White for 25th on the all-time series win list, and it also secured his spot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. While there’s still plenty of racing to be done between now and Nov. 20, when the championship is decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway, there’s a bit of pressure that’s relieved for the Las Vegas native. Knowing he’s headed into the postseason, Busch and his Tony Gibson-led crew can now race aggressively for additional wins.
And that all starts this weekend, when the 28-time Sprint Cup Series race winner will look to score back-to-back victories for the second time in his career. He’ll do so at a racetrack where he’s won three times.
Busch scored his first Michigan win during the track’s June race in 2003, leading 23 laps along the way. He scored his second Michigan win with more of an exclamation point by leading a race-high 92 laps on Aug. 21, 2007. In his most recent win, Busch overcame adversity by winning the rain-shortened Michigan 400 in 2015 after starting 24th in a backup racecar.
In addition to his three victories, Busch has a pair of poles, having earned the top starting spot for the track’s June races in both 2010 and 2011.
Optimism is high for the driver of the Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet, knowing that Michigan has been a strong racetrack for SHR in recent years, as well. Teammate Kevin Harvick has claimed second-place finishes in three of the four races since joining SHR in 2014.
Busch has been among the top-10 finishers in the last eight races, a career-best streak for the Las Vegas native. He’d like nothing more than to extend that streak by scoring his second victory of the season Sunday at Michigan, as another win this weekend would greatly improve his standing in the Chase field. The 16 drivers who qualify for the Chase will have their point totals reset to 2,000 and will be seeded based on bonus points – three per win – earned prior to the start of the Chase. Busch and the Haas Automation/Monster Energy team will put all their focus and determination into finding their way to victory lane once again.