Despite earning a berth in the 2014 Chase For the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kurt Busch enters the 2015 campaign determined to improve the performance of his Haas Automation Chevrolet, beginning with a strong showing in next Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.
“The Daytona 500 (is) a roulette wheel,” admitted Busch. “It really is. It's unique teaching people that don't know a lot about NASCAR how different Daytona and Talladega really are.
"So much preparation goes into these cars. They're beautiful cars with the most man-hours put into them, and some teams are electing not even to run the Unlimited because they know they're going to destroy a car. It's just that different. There's strategy… there's drafting (and) a lot of it is luck, being in the right place at the right time.”
Busch said he is confident in veteran crew chief Tony Gibson’s ability to provide him with consstently fast race cars, calling him “an old‑school crew chief that I really enjoyed racing with the last three races of last year. We posted 8.6 as our average finish (and) that's the number it takes to be competitive in the Chase. We hope to build on that.
“During the off‑season, with no testing, you have to work on things to continue to develop. So whether it's aero, whether it's chassis design (or) pit crew things, Tony Gibson is involved in all areas. It's very easy to communicate with him because of his old school nature and the crew members he has around him. Gibson reminds me a lot of Jimmy Fennig, and I feel like 2015 is the same positioning I was in when I had Jimmy running the show at Roush Racing years ago.”
On the personal front, Busch admitted that he has become frustrated with the lack of progress in the legal proceedings involving former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll, saying, “normal situations like this take 30 minutes, (and) we're getting close to Day 100. We all have to be patient. We all have to understand that there's a process we have to respect, and the fact that no announcement has come out; each day that goes by continues to be good news.
Busch said he is grateful for the support of his team, particularly co-owner Gene Haas.
“It's amazing to have the comfort level that I have… to have told them the truth (about) everything. It's a matter of knowing that the truth has been told, and we'll see how things unfold. We have to wait on what their decision is going to be. (But) it's easy to be here and be pumped up about the season that's 10 days away. I feel like it's full throttle, full steam ahead.”
The former Sprint Cup Series champion equated his recent personal challenges to those of team owner Tony Stewart, saying, “Tony went through some tough spots, I've been through some tough spots. It's about persevering and pushing hard, believing in the people around you and having a good support system.”