By Lonnie Stevenson
On a breezy post-Thanksgiving Saturday, former NASCAR Cup Champion Kurt Busch visited Havasu 95 Speedway to promote Star Nursery Night at the racetrack.
Busch was picked by Star Nursery to drive its Featherlite Southwest Tour car toward the end of the 1997 season. He would post a strong sixth-place finish in his debut race. Busch ran a full season in 1998, capturing the Rookie-of-the-Year honors, then followed up with a series championship in 1999.
That success earned him an opportunity to compete in a tryout with Roush Racing that led to a seat in their Craftsmen Truck Series Ford F-150.
In 2000, Busch would go on to win in that, his rookie year in the Truck Series, four times, finish second in the final point standing and earn Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
Busch is no stranger to Havasu 95 Speedway having raced here back in 1997 and 1998, when it was then called Havasu Speedway. Busch raced for his father Tom in both a Legends Car as well as a Modified, having won features in both series here. Kurt also competed full-time up at the Las Vegas Bullring during that time.
Busch recently announced his retirement from NASCAR Cup racing, still recovering from a head injury suffered in a qualifying crash last year at Pocono Raceway.
That didn’t prevent Busch from grabbing a golf cart earlier Saturday and taking a couple laps around the racetrack.
Afterward, Busch was surrounded by that Featherlite Southwest Tour he drove back in 1998 and 1999 along with a show car for current Star Nursery Pro Late Model Driver Chris Clyne.
Busch signed hundreds of autographs, took nearly as many pictures from race fans old and young. Several fans even brought memorabilia they had of the champion, including a nice mix of older Cup series hats and shirts up to a diecast of his most recent Cup racecar.
Busch gave a rousing command to have the drivers start their engines to start the first 50-lap Pro Late Model feature event of the afternoon.
Late in 2000, Busch was tabbed by Roush Racing to take over the seat in their No. 97 John Deere Ford, making his Cup debut on June 4, 2000, at Dover Speedway.
Busch, who along with younger brother Kyle, (who’s also raced at Havasu Speedway) currently hold the record for race wins in the NASCAR Cup Series by brothers with 97, having passed the Allison brothers, (Bobby and Donnie) earlier this year. Third on that list are the Waltrip’s, (Darrell and Michael) with 88.
Busch who hasn’t total ruled out a return to racing in some different series in the future still boast a quite impressive racing resume which includes:
34 NASCAR Cup Wins
1999 Southwest Tour Championship
2000 NASCAR Truck Series Rookie-of-the-Year
2003 IROC Champion
2004 NASCAR Cup Champion
2010 Sprint All Star Win
2014 Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year
2017 Daytona 500 winner
2023 West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Inductee
Voted one of the 75 Greatest NASCAR Drivers
To view the video interview with Kurt Busch and Lonnie Stevenson, visit our RiverScene YouTube Channel by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t1nvFvnse0