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CUP: Kurt Busch - Drag Racer?

What does a Sprint Cup driver do on an off weekend? Drag race, that’s what.

Kurt Busch, who has been driving in circles most of his life, will do some straight-lining next week as he plans to compete in the Sportsman Super Gas division of the National Hot Rod Association Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Busch plans to drive a 1970 Dodge Challenger he bought in 2008 and has rebuilt. Its Hemi engine pumps out 1,167 horsepower.

Busch became interested in drag racing in the early 1990s when he met a pair of fellow Las Vegas racers – George Marnell, who runs in Pro Stock, and Dave Bush, who races in Super Comp. Busch also became friends with NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon, who, like Busch, carried sponsorship from Miller Lite.

“I spent over 30 hours at Roy Hill’s drag racing school and have had two tests in my own Challenger, but that’s nowhere compared to the seat time many of these guys have in their own cars,” Busch said. “We are going to go out there and do our best competing against these talented Sportsman racers.”

The Gatornationals, long a key event on the NHRA calendar, are scheduled March 11-14. It’s the first off weekend of the season for Sprint Cup drivers.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.