Season Recap: Kurt Busch

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/
Kurt Busch waves prior to the start of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in October 2015.

By Dominic Aragon
January 4, 2015

For the third consecutive season, Kurt Busch qualified for the Chase and finished inside the top-ten in points, the first time since 2013.

Busch was one of two drivers who missed the Daytona 500, yet, qualified for NASCAR’s post-season. 

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/
Kurt Busch climbs into his racecar prior to the start of the 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2015.

Busch’s indefinite suspension by NASCAR in February resulted in the 2004 champion missing the first three races, ending a streak of 94 consecutive starts in the Sprint Cup Series.

A win a Richmond International Raceway in April secured the driver a Chase berth—the ninth of his career and second with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Busch completed all 33 races he started, marking the first time in his career Busch did not post a DNF.

Busch scored 21 top-ten finishes in 2015, matching 2004 and 2009 as career highs. He finished eighth in points in 2015, his highest finish in driver points since 2009.


“It means the world to me to be back in the car. It's been a tough situation the last few months, and I've gone through this with confidence knowing that I know the truth and that I never did any of the things that I was accused of. It was a complete fabrication. 

“But it's unfortunate that my personal life crossed over and affected my business life, but I can't wait to get to the track, to see my team, to shake their hands and say thanks for the support, and to go out there and make my first lap this weekend.”

Photo by Benjamin Palmer/
Kurt Busch leads Kasey Kahne during the 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2015.

“We're not going to think about points. Gene Haas has got me under contract to go win races, and that's what I want to do. We'll see how the points play out. But right now we're here to win some races. First step was to get our feet back underneath us, then we'll go for those wins.”


“It was a solid day. I don’t know what we could have done different.

We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. 

“We had two tires; (Brad) Keselowski had four. We didn’t need that extra yellow at the end and I just got out muscled by Keselowski.” 

Photo by Dante Ricci/
Kurt Busch's team services his car during the Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway in August.

“Well, today is a great day of total team execution. I mean, it starts with building a fast race car back at the shop and coming to the racetrack and fine tuning it, and really a great effort from team communication because we felt like we were a fifth-place car after practice, and the way that the team looked at things, we even qualified better than what we thought, and there was still this realization of, ‘Hey, let's continue to fine tune it, let's not ignore the lack of speed that we don't have. Let's go for it all.’ 

“And that's what Tony Gibson did, along with Johnny Klausmeier, our engineer. Everybody chipped in. The tire guy had some health problems this weekend, and we had to bring in a backup tire guy, but then Jet made it back to the track to enjoy victory lane with us today. 

“And why I tell that long story is it's all about team, people, and chemistry within the organization. 

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/
Kurt Busch pulls into the garage area during a practice session for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in October.

For us the last few weeks, we've not given away wins, but we've made some small mistakes and we've had some things go against us that it made us stronger. 

“It really put a bond between all of us to go, you know what, this 41 Haas Automation Chevy has got some speed. The wins will come. We don't need to force it, and let's just settle in for the long run. 

“And so here we are. We're winners in April. It feels good. Plenty of time to do fun things to build the team up, get stronger, learn from all these races coming up and continue to go forward and like Gene Haas said, one win is great; I want four or five more.”

“It was a fantastic group effort. To be able to pull the backup car out and to have it as prepared as it was and then to have the extra work that went into it, all the crew members that Tony Gibson leads rolled up their sleeves, jumped right on in it, and we made it a race-winning backup car. That shows you the depth of Stewart-Haas Racing. 

“It gives every crew member that much more confidence to know that we're doing things right, and today the way the race unfolded for us, to come up from 24th and work our way through and have those restarts, everything unfolded perfectly for us with changes to the car, the restarts, to not break momentum, to end up on the outside lane most of the time, and then to have a shot up front, our car just kept getting better and better the closer we put it to the front, and that's what you set up for. 

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Kurt Busch practices for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2015.

“You set up for the wins, and you don't set up for the dirty air, you set up for running out front, and that's what Tony Gibson did. I believed in it, and I just took my time but also had to keep working on each of those restarts to get the car towards the front.”

“This Chevy was fast. It was fast enough to win. When the caution came out there at the end, I thought we had the right strategy, but we didn’t. But this is a points day. 

“This is a long journey through these next ten weeks. We weren’t given a hall pass now, through Loudon and through Dover. We’ve just got to work hard as a team and saddle-up. This isn’t just a win and take a couple of weeks off, but we had a winning car today. It’s kind of a shame. We had a good run at Fontana earlier this year and it kind of ended up the same way.”


Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Kurt Busch races Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin during the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2015.
“We had a great season. We won two races, sat on three poles. We did everything possible to put polish on a season like that and get out there with elbow grease and work hard at it. There is some tarnish that is sitting there, polish and polish and that is all I kept doing this whole year.”

Thanks to:
Racing Reference
NASCAR Media Group

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