Kurt Busch returns to Michigan, site of last Sprint Cup win

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With some help from incessant rain, Kurt Busch was named the winner of the Sprint Cup Series’ last race at Michigan International Speedway on June 14.

Busch earned his second win of the year when the Quicken Loans 400 was called after 138 of 200 laps. Now Busch returns, looking for his first win since that rainy day eight races ago. Busch is coming off his eighth top five of the year at Watkins Glen International.

But in the return visit to the Irish Hills, circumstances have changed. According to wunderground.com, there’s a slim chance of rain for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 and teams will be using the high-drag rules package that debuted to disappointing driver reviews in the Brickyard 400.

Busch, who has three wins at MIS (2003, ’07, ’15), believes the package will have better results at the 2-mile track.

“The aero package I think that Brain France is trying to gear up toward would be better suited for Michigan with the high-drag and high-drafting probability at a track that is wider and can produce side-by-side-type racing,” Busch said in a team release. “Michigan should be a way better show than what we saw at Indy. We will see how it plays out. I’m excited about it because I think that package will marry the Michigan racetrack well.”

Busch said the simple fact teams have worked with the aero package once will prove beneficial this weekend, even though Indy and Michigan are two very different tracks.

“There are little things that pop up on how the cars drove in traffic. That has been the biggest thing,” Busch said. “We did a great job at Stewart-Haas Racing to prepare for that Indy race with extra components, extra time, people, effort – the whole thing going into Indy. Now we can really butter that up and button it up for when we go to Michigan.”

All three of Busch’s wins at Michigan came in different generations of car. His second win was in the debut year of the Car of Tomorrow (Gen 5). The 2004 Sprint Cup Champion says success as Michigan is dependent on how teams approach using tires.

“Michigan is a tough place because of the way the cars have that grip level on fresh tires versus old tires,” Busch said “What I mean by that is when you put on fresh tires, your tires are cold and they don’t grab the asphalt as well. A lot of guys try to stay out at Michigan with the hot tires on and they get better restarts.”

In the last three races at Michigan there have been an average of seven cautions, with eight in each of the 2014 events.

“Restarts at Michigan are already pretty wild with how wide the track is and how many lanes there are for options. It comes down to just trying to put yourself in the best position with the best-percentage chance on whether it’s fresh tires, or it’s staying out, or it’s making spots up on restarts.”