At the end of last month, Kurt Busch and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet team spent two days testing at Watkins Glen International (pictured) in hopes of finding any advantage that could lead to a win that vaults them into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Going into this weekend’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, Busch sits 13th in the Cup standings, 11 points out of 10th place. With no wins to fall back on and just five “regular season” races left to either get one or move into the Top 10 in points, he heads for a track that has never been one of his better places (one Top-5 in 12 Cup starts).
But the 2004 Cup champion believes that his test at the Glen on July 29-30 will prove to be time well spent.
“When we went there, we opened up Pandora’s box with some braking issues and were able to master that by the end of the test,” he said in a team statement. “I feel confident heading back there – not to just have speed in qualifying but to have speed throughout the race.
“It’s an important race in a critical juncture of the season.”
Busch kept pace with the rest of the Chase contenders last weekend at Pocono with a third-place result, which was a sign of progress for a team that hasn’t always converted its good pace into representative results this year.
In the meantime, he’s not worrying about his other rivals that are also trying to make their way into the Chase – even though he notes just how tight the battle amongst themselves will be.
“You’re running against Jeff Gordon, a four-time champion and [Brad] Keselowski, a champion from last year is in the mix. [Greg] Biffle is strong, [Martin] Truex won earlier in Sonoma, [Ryan] Newman won at Indy. They’re all Chase material,” he said.
“For us, we’re just putting the blinders on and worried only about the 78. We just need to have nice, smooth races and execute like we did in Pocono.”