Kurt Busch seems to like Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. And since he’s won there three times, for three different owners, he’s hoping he can score victory number four while driving the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Busch first won at Pocono in July 2005 driving for Roush Fenway Racing, leading 131 of 203 laps after starting second. He then dominated in August 2007 driving for Roger Penske. He started second again but led 175 of 200 laps en route to victory at the 2.5-mile track known as the “Tricky Triangle.” Both those races were 500 miles in length.
In June 2016, driving for SHR, he started ninth and led 32 of 160 laps of the now 400-mile race to score his third Pocono victory.
Perhaps Busch’s success is tied to the track’s unique design. The triangular layout was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward and remains unlike any other track in the world with three different corners each modeled after a different track.
Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is modeled after the legendary Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked at six degrees, is modeled after the corners at The Milwaukee Mile.
Busch’s first-ever NASCAR victory came on July 1, 2000 at Milwaukee when he started on the pole and led 156 of 200 laps to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Greg Biffle was third, while a young Jamie McMurray finished 31st. Joe Ruttman, who is the brother of Troy Ruttman, the 1952 Indianapolis 500 winner, finished 24th. Troy Ruttman competed against Ward 10 times in the Indianapolis 500 during the 1950s and 1960s.
The No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion will again be serviced by crew chief Tony Gibson, who won at Pocono in June 1992 with Alan Kulwicki and in July 1998 with Jeff Gordon. He served as car chief during both events. He was not on the pit box last June when Busch scored the victory at Pocono, but lead race engineer Johnny Klausmeier called the shots. Both he and Gibson will be back for this go-around with Gibson back as crew chief.
Both Busch and Gibson are hoping that they can score another victory in the Overton’s 400 Sunday to gain more points as just five races remain after Pocono until the NASCAR playoffs begin.