Racing has always been a family business, and nowhere is that more true than at Talladega Superspeedway. In this series leading up to the 1000bulbs.com 500, Anniston Star contributor Mark McCarter takes a look at some of those families.
Kurt Busch shrugged off one of those dubious distinctions in the 2017 Daytona 500. No longer would he be “the best active driver to never win a restrictor plate race.”
He was 0-for-64 in plate races, despite an average finish at 16.4 at Daytona and Talladega, third-best among active drivers. He had completed 95.2 percent of his laps, a phenomenal figure considering the wreckfest those two tracks often host.
Kurt is one half of the only brother combo active in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, after years and years of Waltrips and Allisons, Labontes and Bodines. And while Kurt has yet to win at Talladega -- despite eight top 5s in 37 starts -- his younger brother Kyle does have one victory, that in the spring of 2009.
However, Talladega hasn’t been very kind to Kyle. And vice versa.
Though he’s been in the top five six times, he’s also failed to finish six times. He’s as likely to leave on a rollback -- and in a huff. After one race, Kyle noted that “we go to a real racetrack next week.”
On the other hand, Kurt has displayed reverence for Talladega, even mixed with some whimsy. He has raced with color schemes paying tribute to the movie “Talladega Nights.” Once, he had a photo of the cougar from the film painted on the hood of his car. Later, he had Wonder Bread -- which was a noted sponsor in the movie -- on his car.
Here’s the irony that can attend races at Daytona and Talladega: In the ’17 Daytona race he won, Kurt Busch led only one lap, the final one. Eighteen months later, he led more laps than anyone during the fall race at Talladega. However, he ran out of gas while leading on the final lap.
When he woke up the next morning at his Charlotte home, a neighbor left a gift on his sidewalk. It was a red, plastic gas can, with the words, “Kurt, We thought you could use this.”