Kurt Busch Qualifies for NHRA Gatornationals

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 06: Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 6, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Update 1:55 EST - Kurt Busch lost out in the first round of today's eliminations in NHRA Full Throttle competition. Erica Enders, the fourth seed ran a 6.538 seconds (211.69 MPH) to Busch's 6.541 (211.59 MPH). Not unexpectedly, Enders' biggest advantage was off the starting line, with a reaction time of 0.021 to Busch's 0.04.


If racing in the Nationwide Series charges Kurt Busch a "Bushwhacker," just imagine what qualifying for an NHRA event makes him.

Busch, attempting to make his drag racing debut in the Pro Stock division, qualified 12th for Sunday's Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

The 2004 Sprint Cup series champion struggled during the first two rounds but eventually made the field-of-16 in his final two runs. Busch's official top speed came in his third try where he recorded a 211.46 mph pass. Rodger Brogdon topped the session with a pass at 213.57.

Busch is driving his own Shell Dodge Avenger with engines provided by veteran drag racer Allen Johnson.

The Las Vegas native will face fifth-seeded Erica Enders in the opening round on Sunday. The winner will advance to the next round and the loser will be eliminated. Enders is currently fifth in Pro Stock standings.

"It would be a big accomplishment if we are able to advance," Busch said. "You can't take anyone lightly in the Pro Stock field. Hopefully we hit the right marks and we do well"

Busch had spent the off-season preparing for this exact scenario. He spent 10 days testing and over 50 practice runs before coming to Florida.

"This [accomplishment] holds a special place in my heart," Busch said. "It's even more special when you consider that  I did it with my own team and group of guys. That satisfaction is pretty high on my list."

The 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals begin Sunday at 11 a.m. EST and will be televised on ESPN2 starting at 6 p.m.

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