Kurt Busch

2004's 13 Tough Questions and Their Politically Incorrect Answers

Athlon asks the questions that are on everyone's mind, even if they may not like the answers
<p> Athlon asks the questions that are on everyone's mind, even if they may not like the answers</p>
2004

In celebration of Athlon Sports' upcoming 10th annual Racing magazine, we've dug into the archives to uncover some of the most memorable features, profiles and Q&As that have graced our pages. Visit the site daily for more retrospective looks at NASCAR throughout the decade.

The following "13 Tough Questions" feature was originally published in the 2004 Athlon Sports Racing annual:

1. Can the ALLTEL car win the Nextel Cup?

NASCAR’s Iron Fist

Drivers behaving badly or borderline censorship? Athlon takes a look at some punishments NASCAR has handed down and the reasons behind them
<p> Drivers behaving badly or borderline censorship? Athlon takes a look at some punishments NASCAR has handed down and the reasons behind them</p>
2004

In celebration of Athlon Sports' upcoming 10th annual Racing magazine, we've dug into the archives to uncover some of the most memorable features, profiles and Q&As that have graced our pages. Visit the site daily for more retrospective looks at NASCAR throughout the decade.

The following feature was originally published in the 2004 Athlon Sports Racing annual:

Kansas Speedway

Previewing NASCAR's Hollywood Casino 400

by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush

Race: Hollywood Casino 400
Location: Kansas City, Kan.
TV: ESPN (2:00 p.m. EST)
June Winner: Brad Keselowski

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<p> Athlon Sports previews this weekend's Hollywood Casino 400 from Kansas Speedway.</p>

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Kurt Busch Wins Dover

Busch, Jimmie Johnson tighten NASCAR's Chase standings

by Matt Taliaferro

Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson entered Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway ranked ninth and 10th in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup — in 28- and 29-point holes. Many were already throwing dirt on Johnson’s bid for a sixth straight championship, while Busch was merely an afterthought in the title hunt.

That all changed in the Chase’s third race.

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<p> Kurt Busch ran away from Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards late in the AAA 400 to win at Dover International Speedway.</p>

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Horsepower Rankings

NASCAR circuit "rips" into Chase for the Championship

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Jeff Gordon  The four-time champ has averaged a 3.25-place finish over the last month. Gordon is looking like the “Wonderboy” of old at just the right time.

2. Jimmie Johnson  It looks as if his biggest threat in the Chase may come from within — as in within Hendrick Motorsports in the form of the aforementioned Gordon. Haven’t we seen this movie before?

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<p> Two of NASCAR's all-time greats — Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson — lead the list in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>

8. Ryan Newman  Newman continues to throw top 10s on the board — he was eighth at Richmond — but he must avoid the hiccup his team seems to have once every month if a title is to be won.

9. Kurt Busch  When you finish in the top 5 but receive more pub for your post-race antics, you know you’ve got some explaining and/or apologizing to do. When the cameras are on, of course.

10. Tony Stewart  Tony’s antics came on Friday and, like Busch, were because of a confrontation with reporters. When are these guys going to learn that life can be a lot easier when they’re on friendly terms with the media?

11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Somehow rebounded from a number of issues at RIR and snuck in the Chase. Sorry Junior Nation, but don’t expect much more.

12. Denny Hamlin  Led zero laps and finished ninth at one of his favorite tracks. That’s not a great sign.

13. AJ Allmendinger  AJ’s top-12 streak has hit five races in a row and he’s 13th in points. Not bad, young man.

14. Mark Martin  There’s still a little gas left in the tank, as Martin’s 10th-place finish in Richmond proved. Not bad, old man.

15. Jamie McMurray  This week will mark the start of “R&D Season” for McMurray and the Ganassi gang.

Just off the lead pack: Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, David Ragan

Agree with Matt’s rankings? Disagree? Post a comment below and tell him how you feel. You can also follow Matt on Twitter @MattTaliaferro

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And then there were 12

Kevin Harvick wins a wild one in Richmond; Chase field set

by Matt Taliaferro

The final 300 miles of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ regular season were some of the most intense of 2011. Chase bubble boys Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin were involved in a lap 8 wreck; Chase longshot Marcos Ambrose spun three times; and Chase locks Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson continued a feud that has slowly festered over the last two seasons.

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<p> On a night when the NASCAR Chase for the Championship field was set, Kevin Harvick held off Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon to win the Wondeful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway.</p>

Sixty laps later, Johnson got his revenge, diving into Turn 1 under Busch and spinning the No. 22 around. Johnson hit the wall in the process, requiring a lengthy stay in the garage, but once again, Busch marched on.

“I know we’re in his head,” Busch said later. “If we’re going to race this way, he’s got to know that there’s 10 other guys in this Chase, not just the 22 (car).

“He’s got to learn to race. He’s been able to beat guys in the last five years just by out-driving them with what he has for equipment.”

Johnson replied with a shrug, saying, “OK ... I got run over going into (Turn) 1, so if you’re going to spin me out, I’m going to spin you out.

“I’m sure I’ll go find him and talk to him and he’ll run his mouth. And we’ll go from there.”

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Earnhardt, had a tough, but ultimately successful, evening. Earnhardt qualified for his first Chase since 2008 by recovering from the lap 8 accident that crushed the nose of his Chevrolet. He then used up what was left of the front end by spinning Ambrose and Travis Kvapil in separate incidents, displaying an aggression not typically seen in the 36-year-old. He finished 16th.

Earnhardt joins Johnson, Busch, Gordon, Edwards, Harvick, Hamlin and Stewart, along with Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman in the Chase.

“I’m proud to be in the Chase,” Earnhardt said. “I feel like I’m a good enough driver to be in the Chase, (and) my team is good enough to be there.

“I can look back over the season and just easily think of several instances where we cost ourselves 10 or 15 points and made this situation difficult this weekend. Had we been more conscious and smarter at certain times we wouldn’t have had to even worry about it this weekend.”

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Gordon Wins No. 85

Jeff Gordon wins Atlanta, pulls into third on the all-time NASCAR wins list

by Matt Taliaferro

It’s been almost 19 years since a 20-year-old Jeff Gordon made his first NASCAR Sprint Cup start. The day was November 15, 1992; the race the Hooter’s 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. And it would go down as the most notable of the sport’s modern era.

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<p> Jeff Gordon won a thrilling battle against teammate Jimmie Johnson at Atlanta to score his 85th career Cup victory.</p>

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Overcoming Adversity

Brad Keselowski fights through pain, wins Pocono

by Matt Taliaferro

A broken ankle, a one hour and 40 minute rain delay and a gamble that laid not only his race, but his season, on the line. Brad Keselowski faced all three in Sunday’s Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway and bested each challenge, holding off Kyle Busch in a 16-lap sprint to the finish en route to his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season.

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<p> Brad Keselowski didn't allow the pain of a broken ankle to hinder his efforts at Pocono, where he scored his second win of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.</p>

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New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Previewing the Lenox Industrial Tools 301

by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush

Race: Lenox Industrial Tools 301
Location: Loudon, N.H.
Specs: 1.058-mile oval; Banking/Turns: 12°; Banking/Straightaways: 2°
Race Length: 317.4 miles/300 laps
TV: TNT (1:00 p.m. EST)
2010 Winners: Jimmie Johnson (June); Clint Bowyer (Sept.)

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<p> Athlon Sports previews Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.</p>

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