Kurt Busch Is Ready To Win Another ChampionshipBy Nick DeGroot
Kurt Busch will be a 2x NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion; it’s simply a matter of when it will happen. Although he and Furniture Row Racing are fast this year, I doubt his second championship will come in 2013 but I will be very surprised if they don’t make the chase and win at least one race. Kurt has matured so much as a driver in the last year and has shocked me with his abrupt attitude change. Yes, he will still get animated inside the racecar but if you listened to every driver’s scanner, they all do at some point. After every race, he gives a positive interview no matter what and tempers his emotions which we’ve never seen him do in the past.
At Richmond, he was guaranteed a top three finish until a late race caution jumbled up the running order and he ended up 9th. On the final lap, Kenseth knocked him out of the way costing him a couple more positions and Kurt was obviously upset following the race bumping Matt on the cool down lap but that’s it. In fact, the usually calm Matt Kenseth was more fired up in his post-race interview than the strangely optimistic Kurt Busch. Kurt hasn’t made a single imprudent decision this year and there were multiple incidents when it would have been understandable to be upset.
He’s led over 100 laps this year and has run up front in most of the races although a few of the finishes don’t show it. If this team can get their pit stop mistakes and mechanical issues fixed, then they will become a serious threat on the track. They could have won the All-Star Race if they had a faster stop and loose wheels/lugnuts have destroyed what would have been great races for them on more than one occasion this year. Once again, the elder Busch looked at the brighter side of things following the race instead of dwelling on all the bad moments.
This much more mature Kurt Busch has taken Furniture Row Racing to the next level. Regan Smith was a good driver but Kurt is an extraordinary driver. Kurt’s probably the most versatile racer in the garage right now next to Tony Stewart and very few men throughout racing history have the ability to jump into different kinds of racecars and perform competitively like him. A couple weeks ago, he took a V8 Supercar around the Circuit of the Americas, then he drove an Indycar at 220mph passing rookie orientation and a few days later he shattered the track record at one of the most difficult tracks on the NASCAR schedule (Darlington). Not many people can kill the rear end of a car at Daytona during a crash and come back to win the race like Kurt did last July. Not many people can have their career slammed to the ground but somehow get back up again and be competitive. Not many people can completely change their attitude for the better in the matter of a year. Kurt Busch did.
I have gained so much respect for Kurt recently and it’s paramount that he keeps it up. His temper has been holding him back and now that he’s got his Achilles Heel under control, the field better watch out. When I used to look at Kurt Busch, I thought of a highly aggressive racecar driver that had an uncontrollable temper and would be out of NASCAR soon. Now I look at Kurt and I can see him becoming a Tony Stewart or an AJ Foyt winning many many races and not just in NASCAR. He’s tested the waters of open wheel, took a V8 Supercar for a spin and I think sports cars will be on his radar soon as well. The 24 Hours of Daytona is a highly prestigious race and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t compete in that event within the next couple of years.
The No.78 may be a single car operation but there are no JTG or Swan Racing by any means. Barney Visser has some deep pockets so don’t mistakenly label this team as underfunded. If Kurt or crew chief Todd Berrier need something, they will get it. Their relationship with ECR engines and Richard Childress Racing is really helping them out this year too. Michael Waltrip Racing was the most recent team to work their way from the bottom of the totem pole all the way to the top of the food chain and I believe Furniture Row Racing will be the next to accomplish that feat. They have the driver, the crew chief, the money, the equipment; now all they need is the consistency which they will get eventually. You are doing a great job Kurt and good luck the remainder of 2013!