First it was NASCAR Cup points leader Kevin Harvick.
Now, Kurt Busch has joined his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate in praise of the team’s switch to Ford in 2017 from Chevrolet.
Two weeks ago, Busch won the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career. As big of a personal achievement it was for Busch, it was also a huge achievement for SHR and Ford, as it was the organization’s first race with Ford and Doug Yates’ power under the hood.
“When we made the announcement that we were switching to Ford last year, it came with extra meetings and longer driver debriefs,” Busch said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “We were looking at blueprints and different front-end geometry changes because of Doug Yates’ engines and how they’re built slightly different, with where the pulleys are and the way the belt serpentine system works as well as the pressurized system versus unpressurized.
“So, a lot of extra work had to go into switching our cars over to Ford. When you roll up your sleeves with a group of racers like we have at Stewart-Haas Racing, it allowed us to go over the car with a finer tooth comb and we looked at every area.
“When you’re changing suspension components around and you’ve got great Haas CNC machines to make these pieces, you can go through versions A, B, and C and get a lot of work done quickly. I’ll tell you, though, it was a full-on effort to get these cars switched over, but I love the way we went over them in extra detail and Tony Gibson is a master at the restrictor-plate races, so his wisdom and expertise was distributed to the other teams.
“Rodney Childers (crew chief for Kevin Harvick) is great at the mile-and-a-half tracks, so his lead for Atlanta and Vegas really kicked in. The way that the rest of the group chipped in to find all these areas, it’s like each team took care of one specific project and the four of us have worked together in a stronger fashion than we ever have before.”
Busch also credited Yates’ power, which replaced the Chevrolet power from Hendrick Motorsports that SHR ran with the last several years, including winning Cup championships in 2011 and 2014.
“Doug Yates’ power, I want to say, is slightly better than where we were, it just feels that way,” Busch said. “The aerodynamic balance of the Ford has more distribution on one region of the car than another and it feels better. “
Other reasons Busch cited for SHR’s strong start in 2017: “Tony Stewart being a full-time owner, Clint Bowyer coming in with his ideas. We upgraded in all categories at Stewart-Haas, so it’s really neat to see everything come out of the box strong.
“We still have to get through this west coast run and get to Martinsville, and once we get past Martinsville we’ll evaluate where things are. You just can’t go off of two races. Let’s give it five, six or seven.”