Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Driver delivers message of strong communication
Wednesday was a day of reflection for Kurt Busch, but not for looking back on 500 laps at Bristol or even his previous performances in suburban Los Angeles in advance of this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race in the Golden State.
Busch visited Tucson - and specifically, his alma mater, the University of Arizona - to take in one of the final preseason football practices for the Arizona Wildcats, who open their season at home Saturday against Idaho. Busch was in town to promote the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil, scheduled for Sunday, November 9 at PIR.
Before igniting his racing career in earnest in the late 1990s, Busch was an aspiring pharmacy student on the spacious desert campus. The 30-year-old spoke with pride when arriving at the school, pointing out his old dormitory and classroom buildings and noting that his time on campus included the Wildcats’ 1997 men’s basketball national championship, the first such title in school history.
As practice finished under the direction of position coaches, Busch stood on the sideline to speak with Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. The two touched on a number of topics, including Busch’s 2004 Sprint Cup championship season, the Pac-10 conference schedule, and even favorite vacation spots on the East Coast. When the final horn sounded, Stoops ushered Busch to the center of the practice field to address the Wildcat men.
The driver’s message was simple, combining equal parts spirit and wisdom.
"I’m a big fan of U of A," said Busch from the facility in the shadows of Arizona Stadium. “I was a Wildcat before, and you guys are Wildcats now. You’ve got pride, that integrity, that heart, and that’s why you guys are on this field and getting ready for a great season.
“The biggest thing I want to leave with you guys is that you have your team, you have your talent, but the most important thing in racing is to have communication, and it’s the same thing here.”
When not comparing crew chiefs to coordinators and tire changers to tight ends, Busch posed for pictures and signed autographs for a number of team members. In all, the team seemed very interested in Busch’s day job, marveling at his estimates for gallons of fuel consumed in a single race (160), the dollar cost of one gallon (about 8), and his No. 2 Dodge’s top miles-per-hour speed on a superspeedway (near 210).
Busch even remembered the roots of Arizona’s top rivalry, using his final words to encourage his audience even more.
“What’s December 6?” he asked.
Knowing that their guest had just recited the date of the team’s all-important game with longtime foe Arizona State, the team fired off cheers and a round of applause. Busch’s response was simple.
“Let’s get a win.”
Tickets to see Busch and the rest of NASCAR’s stars in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil at PIR are available online at www.racetickets.com or over the phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223).