Kurt Busch came onto the NASCAR scene in 2000 with a stellar debut season in what is now the Camping World Truck Series. Since that year, in which he finished second to then Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle in the standings, he’s been building his reputation as a perennial title contender. Busch earned a championship and a slate of wins with Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing and is now driving for Furniture Row Racing. He’s also developed an affinity for charity endeavors as he is actively involved in the Victory Junction Gang Camp for chronically ill children and other Kurt Busch Foundation initiatives. Busch has already made his mark on the sport. Rea White takes a look at the driver’s top-10 NASCAR achievements to date.
Five top-10 points finishes in 11 seasons: Busch has shown the consistent ability to rally when needed and to at least challenge for a championship berth. He finished third in the standings in 2002, narrowly missed the top 10 in finishing 11th the following season and then won the 2004 title. Since then, he’s finished in the top 10 in two of the last five seasons, including fourth in 2009.
Busch didn’t waste any time moving through the ranks. After one full season in the Truck Series, one in which he finished second in the standings, Busch vaulted to the Cup series. He finished 27th that rookie Cup season, but showed how quickly he could improve by climbing to third the next season and finishing in the top 10 in three of the next four seasons, including winning the 2003 title.
The stats say it: five wins at Bristol, one at Martinsville and one at Richmond. For some reason, Busch (pictured celebrating a win at Bristol) has taken to these tracks quickly and performed well on them. Almost one-third of his total Cup wins have come on the tracks less than a mile in length,
2003 IROC champion
Busch had already shown the ability to be successful in whatever he drove – and that continued in the International Race of Champions. In his first year in the series, which featured four races in identically prepared cars, Busch earned four top-five finishes, including a win, to take the title.
Runner-up in trucks
Busch spent only one season in what is now the Camping World Truck Series, but it was a significant one. Busch debuted and showed just how much potential he had in the NASCAR ranks. Driving for team owner Jack Roush, Busch earned four wins with 16 top-10 finishes, 13 of them top-fives. He posted an average finish of 8.0 to finish second in the series standings to teammate Greg Biffle.
Building a foundation
Busch has embraced the charity aspect of his career, creating the Kurt Busch Foundation and building the Kurt Busch Superdome at Victory Junction Gang Camp, a facility for chronically ill children to camp each summer. He’s also actively involved in the NASCAR Foundation (he's pictured being locked up for the NASCAR Second Annual Jail and Bail at Brickhouse Tavern in Davidson, N.C.) and a series of other fundraising activities each season.
Hoisting the trophy
Busch has been a consistent performer quietly moving up the winner’s ranks over the years. He has 33 NASCAR wins to his credit overall, with 24 of those coming in the Cup ranks. He also has five Nationwide wins and four Truck victories to his credit. He won four Cup races during both the 2002 and 2003 seasons and earned all four of his Truck victories in 2000.
Cashing the check
In 12 seasons of full-time Cup competition, Busch has shown a consistent level of performance that has paid off for the driver. In the Cup ranks, he has earned more than $74.9 million in purses.
Busch earned his first NASCAR championship in 2004, taking the Sprint Cup title in a tight points race. That season, Busch was on a tear – and on track to hand long-time team owner Jack Roush his second consecutive series title. Busch won three races that season, the final the 27th of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and posted an average finish of 12.5. He earned 21 top-10 finishes, 10 of them top fives, and overcame three DNFs to take the title.
Kurt Busch proved to be tough in the run to the 2004 title, a year when he posted the closest margin of victory in NASCAR’s history. He edged Jimmie Johnson by eight points to win the championship after a scary season finale. He headed into that race 18 points ahead of Johnson and 21 in front of Jeff Gordon and was running second when his wheel broke off as he headed to pit road. Busch managed to swerve and miss the water barriers as he hit pit road and made it to his stall. A caution came out because the tire was on the track and he managed to stay on the lead lap. He came back on the track in 28th but rallied. The race ended in a green-white-checkered run with Johnson second, Gordon third and Busch fifth – enough to snare the title. He would be involved in another close finish record, too, finishing second to Ricky Craven at Darlington in 2003 by .002 second, a NASCAR record.