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No wins yet, but plate racing gets Nascar's Kurt Busch going

No wins yet, but plate racing gets Nascar's Kurt Busch going

No wins yet, but plate racing gets Nascar's Kurt Busch going
By Brian Hilderbrand
Las Vegas Sun

"I like to beat Jeff. I don't like seeing Jeff win. I like to win. But when he honored my father, that was really cool. That was a lot of class. I wanted to make that known."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., on congratulating Jeff Gordon in victory lane Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon tied the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. with his 76th career victory and then took a victory lap waving a large No. 3 flag.

Kurt Busch is 0-for-24 in restrictor-plate races in his NASCAR Cup career, but that doesn't mean he isn't a fan of the racing at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

"The truth is that I really enjoy plate racing," Busch, a Las Vegas native, said as he prepared for Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega.

"I've heard plate racing referred to as a high-speed chess match on wheels and that's a pretty good description, I think. But at the same time, I have enough experience at the track and respect for the other competitors that I realize it can also turn into a scene that could be (described) as 190 mph Russian roulette."

Busch, in his seventh full season in the Cup Series, has nine Top 10 finishes in 12 career NASCAR Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway, including five Top 5 efforts.

Last year, Busch moved to Penske Racing and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge after five full seasons with Roush Racing. In his two starts with Penske at Talladega in 2006, Busch finished seventh in the spring race and third in the fall event.

Like Busch, team owner Roger Penske never has won a restrictor-plate race since the horsepower-sapping devices were introduced in 1989 to slow the cars at NASCAR's two fastest tracks.

"The bottom line is that I've never won a plate race, Roger's teams have never won a plate race and Miller Lite has never been to Victory Lane in a plate race," Busch said. "We're coming into Talladega looking for a breakthrough weekend for all involved and we're confident we'll have a car that can get the job done."

After eight races this season, Busch is 13th in points, 31 points out of 12th place. The Top 12 drivers in points after 26 races will be eligible for the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.

Busch's younger brother, Kyle, sits in sixth place in the Cup standings, 324 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon.

On the mend

Champ Car World Series driver Paul Tracy, a Las Vegas resident, continues to recover from a back injury he suffered two weeks ago in a crash during practice for the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Originally expected to miss three months with a compression fracture to his first lumbar vertebra, Tracy said noted orthopedic surgeon Terry Trammell has told him he should be able to return to racing in time for the next Champ Car World Series event, on June 10 in Portland, Ore.

According to a release from his team, Forsythe Championship Racing, Tracy has been continuing his fitness routine in Las Vegas, which includes daily bike rides longer than 30 miles.

Tracy, who missed the races in Long Beach and Houston, finished third in the season-opening Vegas Grand Prix on April 8.

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