NASCAR Nextel Cup star and former series champion Kurt Busch made official what was already all but official on Tuesday by unveiling the Dodge Avenger that he will drive in his professional debut in Pro Stock at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL March 10-13. Busch began the off season getting acquainted with a Pro Stock car under the tutelage of esteemed driving instructor Roy Hill and followed that up by spending a good part of the winter testing in Bradenton, Florida in a Roy and Allen Johnson prepared Dodge. Busch earned his professional competition license with an impressive lap of 6.576-seconds at 210.43.
Last spring, Pennzoil and the Shell brand announced that their sponsorship dollars would shift to the Penske Racing machine of Busch in 2011, where his number would also change from 2 to 22. Busch’s J & J Racing Dodge Charger Pro Stock car will sport the familiar red and yellow colors, with Shell and Dodge as the primary backers for the effort.
Busch, who competed in Super Gas at the Gatornationals that falls on an off-weekend between NASCAR’s Las Vegas and Bristol races, will vie for one of 16 qualifying spots for the opportunity to compete on race day against some of the stiffest competition in all of motorsports; straight-line or circletrack.
Busch told NHRA.com: “Pro Stock is the tightest Pro category as far as the elapsed time is concerned, and it’s not going to be an easy task,” Busch said. “I feel me teaming up with Allen Johnson and the Mopar folks, we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to make the show.”
“It’s a whole different world than NASCAR. The toughest part is staging the car and, of course, cutting a good light; the thrill of the launch and the speed at the top end is why I’m so fascinated with drag racing. But I do know that heading to the Gatornationals and running with the pros, I will get a full dose of humble pie.”