I would bet you that everyone in that garage area will tell you that driver Kurt Busch is one of the strongest talents in our sport.
As everyone knows, this is his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing. The first four races of 2014 were pretty rough for him. He turned things around with a third-place finish at Fontana and then Sunday won the race at Martinsville.
Kurt is one of those rare talents that he can win on any race track. It doesn’t matter if it’s a superspeedway, a road course or in the case of Martinsville, a short track — Kurt can win at it. He’s got the ability to win no matter what track we are at. With all that said, it’s been a bumpy ride for Kurt.
Many people probably forget that Kurt is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion having won the championship in the very first year of the Chase format for Roush Fenway Racing. He then moved over to Penske Racing and was winning races. However, because of his emotions he let that top-tier ride slip through his fingers.
The following year things got even bumpier driving for James Finch. He got everything he could out of that No. 51 car but everyone knew it was going to be tough to win a race.
What was truly impressive was watching what Kurt did last year with Furniture Row Racing, that little single-car team out of Denver. Even though he didn’t win a race, he was ever-so close many times last year. They did win a pole position at Darlington but the biggest thing for them in 2013 was they made NASCAR history as the first single-car operation to earn a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Now sure, Kurt could have stayed put this year with that team and probably been just as competitive as last year. However, I think Kurt in his mind knew it just wasn’t where he needed to be if he wanted to be a serious contender to win races and possibly another championship.
It was a great opportunity not only for Kurt but for Stewart-Haas Racing for them to both come together. When you can hire someone with the talent of Kurt and give him the resources that Stewart-Haas has to offer, well obviously it looks like – and was proven Sunday – a win-win situation.
We now have our sixth different winner in the first six races of the season, so Kurt now has to feel, after a lousy start to the year, that he has pretty much already punched his ticket to the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase. I am also willing to bet that after going 83 races without a win but ending that streak Sunday at Martinsville, we’re going to see Kurt and his team back in Victory Lane on several occasions this season.