Kurt Busch had barely shed his rookie status when he picked up his first victory at Martinsville Speedway. It was way back in 2002 and he was just a year removed from his rookie campaign.
Since then he’s won a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and a total of 24 Sprint Cup races, but he’s never come close to that early success on Martinsville’s difficult oval.
“It’s been one of those tracks for me,” Busch said of his Martinsville struggles. “I won there early when I was young and naïve. And I enjoyed it when the new concrete was put down (2004). But with the new cars, the Gen 5 and the Gen 6, I’ve struggled.”
And that’s putting it mildly. In 27 Martinsville starts, Busch has just two top-five finishes, including the win, and four top-10 finishes.
He hopes though, that his alignment with Stewart-Haas Racing this season may help solve some of those problems. Teammate and boss Tony Stewart has three Martinsville wins and teammate Kevin Harvick has one and he expects some help from them.
It also doesn’t hurt, he says, that Stewart-Haas has a solid technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, and Hendrick cars have been tough to beat at Martinsville in recent years.
“Running well at Martinsville is a matter of understanding what set-ups run well. Hendrick Motorsports has had a clamp-down on Martinsville for a long time,” said Busch. “With having access to their notes through the Stewart-Haas relationship with them, I’m just going to be a good student of Hendrick Motorsports.”
Busch will get the opportunity to put his recently-gathered information to test on Friday at noon when the first practice session for the STP 500 kicks off.
Friday’s action will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday with a 2-hour, 45-minute practice session for the Kroger 250. The final Kroger 250 practice is at 3 p.m. followed by Sprint Cup qualifying at 4:40 p.m.
Saturday’s action begins with a Sprint Cup practice at 10 a.m. followed by qualifying for the Kroger 250 at 11:10 a.m. The final practice session for the STP 500 is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Kroger 250 will take the green flag at 2:30 p.m.
The STP 500 is slated to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Fan gates open at 9 a.m. each day.
Martinsville Speedway PR