Owner: Georgetta Roush • Team: Roush Racing • Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
Below is the ranking of the team on each type of
track along with the driver's best finish.
1st, New Hampshire (2)
10th, Watkins Glen
The reigning Nextel Cup Champion will have a tough time repeating in 2005. While we do not see him falling off the pace, we think others will improve. Busch learned many lessons last year, the most important being to never give up. When the right front wheel came off the car in the final race of the year, Busch kept his cool and won a championship when a lesser team would have folded.
The biggest asset on this team is Jimmy Fennig. His experience and calming influence on the 27-year-old driver has taken the brash and immature Busch from a good wheelman with raw talent to a champion. Chemistry is an often-used term when talking about a crew chief and driver, and in this case, chemistry made the difference.
We expect Busch to win his share of races and be a contender again in ‘05. He should square off against the same teams he faced last year down the stretch and will be the Roush team’s best ride in its quest for a third straight Cup title.
The only weak link in the Busch chain is on the road courses. Some of his biggest mistakes were made when turning right, but his performance picked up in both qualifying and race results last year. Regardless, count on Busch to be a contender all season.
Kurt Busch’s ’04 campaign can be summed up in one word — overachievement. Every time the pressure was on, the Sharpie team answered the call.
The difference for the Jimmy Fennig-led team was in the preparation for the last 10 races that made up the Chase. The fact that Busch’s engine blew at Atlanta a few laps after his brother blew up assured him of a 42nd place finish and three more points. Factor those points into the equation at Homestead, when Busch led a lap after sitting on the pole and neither Jimmie Johnson nor Jeff Gordon collected a 5-point bonus. That’s an eight-point swing, which is exactly the margin of Busch’s lead over Johnson in the final standings.
Sometimes a championship takes a little luck (Atlanta), and other times it takes preparation (Homestead). Busch had both in a title fight that rivaled the Kulwicki-Elliott-Allison duel of 1992.
• The Good: The recovery from the first-lap spin at Lowe’s that put Busch to the rear of the field could be the defining moment of the last 10 races. Finishing fourth was a huge accomplishment that night.
• The Bad: Busch had a winning car at Richmond in September but ran out of gas. After Busch took the lead late, the tank ran dry as hopes for a trophy evaporated.
• The Ugly: The contact with teammate Greg Biffle in the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Showdown that sent several cars to the garage, including Biffle, was a mental miscue that was costly in both the equipment and respect categories.