The two races last season at Talladega couldn’t have been more different for Kurt Busch.
In May, Busch was seemingly on cloud-nine. Running a car straight out of the movie Talladega Nights, Busch was a factor throughout much of the race,running up in the lead draft with a chance at victory in the closing laps.
A tap on the rear-bumper from 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski ended Busch’s chances at victory that day. But the former Cup champion was still upbeat about his day with the Phoenix Racing team.
When Busch returned to the 2.66-mile tri-oval in October, he was in a much different place with himself and Phoenix Racing.
It was his last race with the team. Busch wanted nothing more than to end his short–but eventful–tenure with the team with a win.
Running inside the top-five, it was looking as though Busch would once again be a force to reckon with for the win.
But when his No.51’s tank ran empty, it all went downhill; and fast.
A bump from Jamie McMurray sent Busch’s car into a whirlwind, ending his day before a chance at seizing his first checkered flag of the season was possible.
This weekend, Busch makes his return to Talladega driving for the team that scored a top-10 finish the Cup Series visited the track last October.
Furniture Row Racing has always been a car that has proven fast on the Superspeedways, especially Talladega.
In the team’s second race at the Alabama oval, Kenny Wallace was able to qualify the No.78 Chevrolet in sixth. Wallace ran inside the top-15 throughout most of the 188-lap race before finishing in twenty-sixth.
The trend continued when Joe Nemechek took the wheel of the car, scoring the team’s first pole at the track in April,2008.
While in the early days of Furniture Row Racing they were virtually only a contender at Talladega, the recent version of the team is a different story.
Since picking up their first and so far only victory in team history with Regan Smith in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the team based in Denver has taken steps to become a team on the rise in the Sprint Cup Series.
Late in 2012, the team announced the signing of 2004 Cup champion Busch, instantly bringing results to the team with three-straight top-ten finishes to close out the 2012 season.
So far, that success has carried over into the 2013 season. In nine races this season, Busch has scored two top-five finishes to go along with three in the top-10 including a ninth-place finish in last Saturday’s race in Richmond, VA.
While Busch hasn’t won a Cup Series race since September,2011, he is regarded as the best driver not to have won a restrictor plate race.
Busch, a past winner of the Sprint Unlimted (formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout) and a Daytona qualifying race, has maybe his best chance to return to victory lane since his win at Dover nearly two years ago.
If there’s a track known for an upset winner either by driver or team, it’s Talladega Superspeedway.