AVONDALE, Ariz.—It would be a tall order to ask Kurt Busch to win Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) in his first outing of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Based on Saturday’s practice, however, a victory for the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet is not out of the question.
Returning from a three-race suspension triggered by the finding of a Delaware Family Court commissioner that Busch more likely than not had committed an act of domestic violence against former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll, Busch topped the speed chart in Saturday’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session with a lap at 136.768 mph.
In the final session, he ran third behind teammate Kevin Harvick, the polesitter for Sunday’s race, and Matt Kenseth.
NASCAR cleared Busch to race after the driver participated in a Road to Reinstatement program and after the Delaware Department of Justice declined to charge Busch with domestic abuse, citing insufficient evidence.
Clearly, without the opportunity to drive a race car during his absence, the 2004 series champion already is up to speed. And to Busch, it’s a fortunate coincidence that his first race back in action comes at PIR.
“Phoenix is probably the track that I have the most amount of laps on in my career,” Busch said Friday after qualifying eighth for Sunday’s race. “It was great to roll right off the hauler and be towards the top of the chart. It’s not me; it’s the team. The team is building very competitive cars.
“Kevin Harvick is in one of the strongest sequences that I’ve ever seen in our sport, and I’ve got a teammate car to his. So, it’s really up to me to try to keep up with him. Overall, I’m pleased with how I was able to get back in the seat and show some speed, and now you’ve got to work on those little things that pay dividends at the end of these races on Sunday.”