There’s just something about the Chicago sports scene that Kurt Busch loves.
The driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is an unabashed fan of the Chicago Cubs. He has an unwavering loyalty to the Chicago Bears.
Busch was just a kid in Las Vegas when he adopted the Chicago sports teams as his own, and his love for the Bears and the Cubs hasn’t faded one iota through the years. His support of the Chicago sports teams stems from the fact his parents hail from the Windy City, so it’s only natural for him to support its “hometown” teams.
In 2000, Busch made his first visit to Wrigley Field to watch his beloved Cubs. Busch readily admits that he got a tear in his eye as he sat in the bleachers and took in the electric atmosphere at the historic ballpark.
Since that first visit to Wrigley, Busch has been back to watch his “Cubbies” numerous times.
In 2002, Busch was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch before a game. That first time on the mound at Wrigley Field, Busch did everything he could to savor the moment. As he tells it, he stood on the mound and actually shook off the sign from the catcher – wanting to prolong the moment and soak in his surroundings for as long as possible. When he finally did make the pitch, Busch says he “threw it right down the pipe with heat.”
Since then, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has thrown out the first pitch several other times at Wrigley, and also has led the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.
It doesn’t matter how many times Busch has the opportunity to visit Wrigley Field, he relishes every moment.
This weekend, Busch will become part of the Chicago sports scene he loves so much as the Sprint Cup Series rolls into Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400– the first of 10 races in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship playoffs.
Busch qualified for the Chase via his win at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June. He’ll start the Chase 12th in points. This is Busch’s fourth consecutive Chase appearance and 10th overall. He won the championship in his Chase debut in 2004, then finished 10th in 2005, seventh in 2007, fourth in 2009, 11th in 2010 and 2011, 10th in 2013, 12th in 2014 and eighth in 2015.
In 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at Chicagoland, Busch has two top-five finishes and nine top-10s. His best finish at the 1.5-mile track came in this race last year, when Busch brought home a third-place finish. He overcame a flat tire on lap 86 and a green-flag pit stop that put him a lap down to still contend for the win. However, a late-race caution took away what appeared to be a sure win and an automatic advance into the next round of the Chase for Busch and the No. 41 team.
Busch, who has cheered for the Chicago teams throughout his life, hopes to give the Chicago crowd something to cheer about this weekend. There’s nothing he would like more than to get the first win at Chicagoland and his first of the 2016 Chase, and continue his quest for his second Sprint Cup championship.