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Busch hopes rest of year sets tone for 2013

Kurt Busch hopes to a strong finish to this year will give his new team momentum for 2013.

The final month of the Sprint Cup season means a lot more to Kurt Busch than it does to some other drivers not involved in the Chase.


The end of 2012 is all about setting things up for Busch, who made the switch to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet team. Busch is hoping to use a strong finish this year to give his new team some momentum heading into 2013.


"It's all about team communication," said Busch. "When you want to be one of the top five teams you have to be able to communicate to where everybody picks it up earlier. That's what these races are for this year. Next year everyone will be in a new car. We're just trying to eliminate everything we're up against."


From the outside, it looks like Busch has been up against plenty this season.


The 2004 Sprint Cup champion went from one of the top rides in the series in Penske Racing to the undermanned Phoenix Racing team to start the season. It wasn't a good one on or off the track for Busch as he managed just two top-10 finishes in the No. 51 Chevy. He was also suspended for a race for a verbal altercation with a reporter.


But things are now looking up for Busch. While the No. 78 team isn't much bigger than the Phoenix Racing team, it does get engine help from Richard Childress Racing. It has also been to Victory Lane once, which is something Busch has done 28 times.


Busch doesn't paint 2012 as a disappointment despite the struggles that have him just 26th in driver points.


"It's been a good challenge," he said. "It's something I've embraced. Working alongside the guys, it gives me more of an appreciation on how hard this is. When I was with the big-dog teams, that wasn't the case. This gives me a better appreciation of how things operate. I can take small victories away from each weekend."


That doesn't mean Busch isn't thinking big right now. While he's had finishes of just 21st and 25th in his first two races with his new team, he's been pleased with how competitive the team has been.


"It's just like a day like today, we're not quite sharing high fives, but we raced our way up to fourth (at Kansas Speedway on Sunday) before we got caught a lap down," Busch said. "Those moments show us those can be the results. We want to win. I think we can win. We have showed the potential. This team has the commitment."


Busch sees the AAA Texas 500 Nov. 4 and the race at Phoenix as his team's opportunity to shine heading into next year. He'll be extra busy at TMS too, raising money for military families and children through the Armed Forces Foundation.


The TMS dirt track will be transformed into a muddy obstacle course for the Nov. 1 Busch-Whacked event and Busch and other NASCAR drivers including Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin as well as pit-crew members will compete alongside NASCAR fans. Busch is even buying grandstand tickets for the AAA Texas 500 for the group that puts together the largest team to compete. For more information on how to participate, go to www.active.com/running/fort-worth-tx/busch-whacked-2012.