Kurt Busch Stacked Deck at Pocono

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is heading to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend looking for a pair of wins.

Before he heads to the 2.5-mile triangle, Busch will make an appearance in Thursday night’s Pocono Celebrity Charity Poker Showdown, benefitting the NASCAR Foundation and the Armed Forces Foundation, at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The third-annual event gives fans the opportunity to play against NASCAR drivers and other celebrities in the name of charity.

Following the poker tournament, his focus will shift to Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, a racetrack where he’s experienced success. The driver of the Haas Automation Chevrolet has 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s, as well as a pole to go with his pair of wins in 26 previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the “Tricky Triangle.” Busch has led at least one lap in 16 of those races, and finished third when the series last visited there in June.

Over the years, the triangular layout of Pocono has proven to be complicated and vexing to many drivers, but that has not been the case for Busch.

Busch’s solid performance numbers extend beyond the traditional and into some pretty stout loop data statistics as he ranks in the top-five in a number of categories, including laps led, fastest laps run, speed in traffic, green-flag speed and average running position. Add it all up and it equates to a third-place driver rating, placing Busch behind only six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who’s second, and recent perennial Pocono favorite Denny Hamlin, who’s first.

Coming off a disappointing finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch is looking to take advantage of this weekend’s race and continue to improve on his impressive stats at Pocono.

The No. 41 Haas Automation team will look to improve upon its third-place finish in June and will rely on Busch’s experience to get the most out of Sunday’s 400-miler. A win this weekend would cement the No. 41 team’s place in NASCAR’s 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship playoff. With its win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March, Busch is virtually guaranteed a spot in the 2014 Chase. However, there’s still plenty of racing to be done between now and Sept. 6, when the Chase field is set at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. And, with that being said, Busch and his Daniel Knost-led crew can race aggressively for an additional win at a track where the driver certainly knows how to get the job done.

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Steven B. Wilson

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