For the first time in his 17-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, Kurt Busch is undefeated. Having won Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, his first in the “Great American Race,” Busch is boasting a perfect 1-0 record.
To be fair, there is still a lot of racing to go – 35 points-paying events to be exact – but that hasn’t stopped the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champ from enjoying the fact that, for now, he is in a league of his own.
As the Daytona 500 champion, Busch has spent the last two days in a whirlwind of celebratory activities that included a breakfast ceremony Monday morning with members of the media and having his winning No. 41 Ford enshrined for display at Daytona. He followed that up with a trip to New York for a series of interviews and television show appearances, with more to come as the week continues.
In the midst of all of the fanfare that goes with winning the Daytona 500, the Las Vegas native has started turning his attention to the next event on the 2017 Cup Series schedule, which just so happens to be at a track where he has enjoyed unabashed success – Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Driving the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Busch aims to improve his season record to 2-0 by winning Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 Cup Series race. And given his career statistics at the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval, there is plenty of reason to enter the race weekend with high expectations.
A three-time Atlanta winner, Busch has long lauded the track referred to as “Hotlanta” as his favorite. The term “hot,” however, is not something likely to be tossed around much this time of year, and that suits the 38-year-old Busch just fine, having scored two of his three Atlanta wins during the month of March – in 2009 and 2010. In addition to that pair of wins, Busch also won there in October 2002, a feat he accomplished behind the wheel of a Ford, the manufacturing partner of SHR.
While the wins are what everyone remembers, Busch’s overall record at Atlanta is certainly noteworthy, featuring six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 25 starts. Complementing Busch’s results at Atlanta is the fact that he’s led at least one lap in 12 different races for a total of 749 laps led, has failed to finish a race on only three occasions, and has completed all but 629 laps run in his 25 starts for a lap-completion rate of 92.2 percent.
Perhaps more telling is Busch’s most recent work at Atlanta. In his last seven starts there, Busch has not finished worse than 13th. During that stretch, Busch has recorded one pole, having started from the top spot in the 2016 edition of the Folds of Honor 500, and scored one win, four top-five finishes and five top-10s.
Busch would like nothing more than to score another win in the 2017 edition of the Folds of Honor 500 to record his fourth NASCAR Cup Series win at Atlanta and extend his season record to a perfect 2-0.