Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A Week Later, Kurt Busch Still Soaking in Daytona 500 Victory

By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor

To say that Kurt Busch’s NASCAR career has been a rollercoaster of a ride would be an understatement. From the moment the Las Vegas native entered the sport, he has endured the highest of highs and the lowest of lows throughout his 18 year career, but after winning the Daytona 500 last Sunday, Busch is still riding the high of winning NASCAR’s biggest race.

Following his win, Busch not only celebrated with his team into the wee hours of the morning, but also went on a nationwide media tour that extended the celebration throughout the week leading into this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Years ago when I won the championship you look at it and think, ‘Oh man, there is a lot that goes with this.’ Maybe you don’t soak it all in, but this time around my phone is like 400 texts deep and I can’t get caught up. All the shows, interviews and moments, I am trying to soak it all in and feel everything I can. There is even a story behind how this ring ended up back on my hand. All the teamwork and all the people that helped make this happen, I have to thank NASCAR for such a beautiful media week to go along with such an emotional, historic event in Daytona,” said Busch.

“To drive into Victory Lane at Daytona with a stock car in the Great American Race is one of the best feelings in the world. To be able to accomplish that with the team I have at Stewart-Haas Racing, their first Daytona 500 win, it has been a fairy tale. I don’t even know what day it is anymore. I know I am on track in a hour and a half here at Atlanta and that is when the focus on the regular season begins.”

With the Daytona 500 win comes the coveted Harley J. Earle trophy, with both the driver and owner getting a trophy of their own. However, Busch discovered that he could not get any replicas of the trophy for his team to be able to have one, so he came up with an idea of making his trophy into a traveling one, so that his team and countless others will be able to enjoy it as much as he has.

“I realize there are only two trophies from victory lane and you cannot get a replica of the trophy. Gene Haas has his from the breakfast afterwards and it is now in Oxnard, California, at the Haas headquarters. My trophy is at the race shop right now. All the crew guys have been taking selfies with it and pictures and they had a toast the other night with it. I am going to get the nice carrying case that goes with it and I am going to send it out on a tour. I am going to turn our Harley J Earle into the Stanley Cup and it will make events here and there. I wanted to get replicas for Ford, Monster Energy, for myself and whoever is significant enough to get a replica. But they only make two. That is what is so significant and powerful about this trophy. The first visit after the SHR race shop will be to Las Vegas so the fans in my hometown can see it and then it will go to Corona, California, so it can hang out in the Monster headquarters for a little while.”

Busch also now has bragging rights over his younger brother Kyle as they both have a Cup championship, but Kurt’s Daytona 500 win gives him an edge when it comes to their sibling rivalry as the younger Busch has yet to win the Great American Race.

“We have plenty of moments to dispute between the two of us. He can immediately rebuttal that he’s that he’s won at Indianapolis. That is a huge win in our sport, to win at the Brickyard. Yes, I have a little bit of a slight edge right now because of the buzz and energy that comes with winning at Daytona and it’s 2017,” said Kurt Busch.

He finished up his media availability at Atlanta by reflecting on how far he has come in his career and what words of wisdom he would pass onto his younger self.

“Slow down and to not push so hard and to not put so much emphasis on one race weekend. I was such a perfectionist early on in my life, it helped get me to this point. But it also took away some abilities to absorb what was going on around me and to help myself enjoy those moments. I think think patience is the biggest thing that I would preach. Putting together a game plan that is a bit more long-term instead of week-to-week or month-to-month, that would be something that I would tell my younger self,” said Busch.

“It was tough. Coming from Las Vegas, being an outsider, moving to the Southeast and trying to fit into the ‘Good ole’ boy southern world’, I was just hell-bent to try and stay (here). And yet, if I could have told myself, ‘You’ve made it this far, things are going to work out okay, just calm down a little bit. Settle in, this is the final destination of motorsports.’ That is something that I didn’t do early on in my career.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.

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