Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kurt Busch flailing after two runs at NHRA Gatornationals

Kurt Busch got into drag racing last year in a Sportsman class and is trying his hand in the pro ranks this week.

Associated Press

Kurt Busch got into drag racing last year in a Sportsman class and is trying his hand in the pro ranks this week.

GAINESVILLE — Kurt Busch expected a "full dose of humble pie" at his professional drag-racing debut.

He got something way worse.

Busch botched both Pro Stock qualifying passes Friday at the NHRA Gatornationals, leaving him little room for error heading into today's final two runs.

"An interesting day to say the least," he said. "A lot of rookie things that I'm ready to put behind me. We've done this before. I've done testing, I know what to do, I know what to expect."

It sure didn't look that way.

The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion smoked his tires on the first run, prompting him to shut down his 1,400-horsepower engine, and covered the quarter-mile strip in 18.334 seconds. It was the slowest time among the 21 competitors.

He made even more rookie mistakes on his second try. Busch failed to "stage" his dragster within the 7-second time limit and was essentially black flagged. Officially, he "timed out," and his run did not count.

"This has too much bitter in it because I'm the one making all the mistakes," Busch said. "This is definitely one of those scenarios where things move so fast when you're doing the burnout and staging."

Busch made other mistakes, too.

He ground the gears while backing up after a burnout and nearly caught his car's parachute on a retention wall while turning off the strip.

With 12 cars already locked into the finals, Busch is among nine drivers vying for four spots in Sunday's elimination rounds. Today he gets two more passes to turn things around.

Busch expected to have some issues. After all, he doesn't have much experience in the straight-line sport. He bought a 1970 Dodge Challenger off eBay for $15,000, attended drag-racing school and got his first taste of the sport in Gainesville last year.

But heavy rain washed out much of his Sportsman class, so he decided he would get more opportunities as a pro. Since then he tested for 10 days and made more than 50 runs.

"Hopefully nobody paints my back bumper yellow," Busch said, referring to the rookie designation in NASCAR.

Kurt Busch flailing after two runs at NHRA Gatornationals 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 8:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cannon Fodder podcast: Looking back at Bucs-Jags, ahead to 'Hard Knocks'


    Greg Auman looks back on the weekend, with depth moves at tackle and cornerback, smart plays from Thursday's win in Jacksonville and what might be ahead on Tuesday's "Hard Knocks" episode on HBO, in …

    Greg Auman discusses the Bucs' win over the Jaguars in this week's Cannon Fodder podcast.
  2. Jim Harbaugh's Michigan football team is still hiding its roster


    Jim Harbaugh slipped one more offseason antic in just at the buzzer.

  3. Mike Evans stands behind Michael Bennett


    Bucs receiver Mike Evans was signing autographs for children after Bucs practice on Saturday. As he signed, he talked about Seattle defensive and former Buc Michael Bennett, who last Friday sat during the national anthem and who says he will continue to do so to fight racial injustice.

    Mike Evans, left, hauls in a pass in front of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
  4. Man, I miss Planet Simeon


    Simeon Rice, right, works with Bucs defensive end Ryan Russell.