When Kurt Busch climbs into the No. 45 Toyota Camry for the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, he will celebrate a special anniversary. He will compete on the altered version of the short track 20 years after winning his first career Cup Series race.
On March 24, 2002, Busch made his third-ever Cup Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway while driving for Jack Roush. His first start resulted in a crash while the second was a 25th-place finish, but Busch turned in the best performance of his career by leading 89 of the 500 laps. He used a bump-and-run move to get past Jimmy Spencer, and then he built up an insurmountable lead at the short track.
Busch took the checkered flag in the No. 97 Ford, and he celebrated for the first time in his Cup Series career. The Las Vegas native went on to win three more races during the 2002 season, including the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch ended the year third overall in the championship standings while Tony Stewart won the title for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Wow, it’s hard to imagine that it’s been 20 years since my win at Bristol,” Busch said in a release from the Tennessee short track. “It’s been a great ride. I was so intimidated my first time at Bristol, I feel like I wrecked five times in the first 100 laps. Then I was able to come back my second year in about my 50th race and win the spring race there.”
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Busch Has Continued To Achieve Success at Bristol
The 2002 race at Bristol Motor Speedway served as Busch’s first trip to Victory Lane, but it was far from the only time. He has a total of 33 wins in NASCAR’s top series, which includes six at the Tennessee short track.
Busch’s run of consistency at Bristol includes three straight wins in 2003 (season sweep) and 2004, his championship season. He added a fifth victory in 2006 while driving for Team Penske, and he notched his sixth in 2018 while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Busch is currently sixth all-time on the list of winners at Bristol Motor Speedway. Darrell Waltrip tops the list at 12. Dale Earnhardt Sr., Rusty Wallace, and Cale Yarborough all sit in a tie with nine trips to Victory Lane. Kyle Busch is fifth overall with eight wins in his Cup Series career. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski are both behind Busch with three wins each.
The First Bristol Race in 2022 Will Be Very Different
While Busch has extensive experience at the standard version of Bristol Motor Speedway, he will celebrate his 20th anniversary on a different racing surface. He will take on the second-ever Cup Series dirt race at Bristol after finishing 16th in 2021.
This race weekend will feature the debut of the Gen 7 stock cars on dirt, and the drivers will have multiple opportunities to gain experience. They will participate in two, 50-minute practice sessions on Friday, April 15. They will then take part in 15-lap, blind-draw qualifying races on the dirt track on Saturday, April 16.
The main event will take place on Sunday, April 17, at 7 p.m. ET. FOX will provide coverage as Busch and his peers battle in the 250-lap Food City Dirt Race and try to join Joey Logano on the list of winners.