PT’s strikesgold in Kurt

March 04, 2008 7:45 AM
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Golden Gaming and PT’s came to sponsor NASCAR driver Kurt Busch through a victory at Pocono and a crew chief whose initials just happened to be PT.

"I was watching Kurt win the Pocono 500 last year on television and he referred to his car as the PT Special after his crew chief Pat Tryson," said Christopher Abraham, vice president of marketing for Golden Gaming.

"We sent Kurt a care package to say thank you. The next thing we knew, the phone rang and it was Kurt saying he wanted to do a sponsorship with us," Abraham said. "I told him that we didn’t think we were a big enough company, but he said he liked PT’s and wanted to work with us. We’re thrilled to have such a quality person and a Las Vegas driver."

So as the "driving force" of PT’s, Busch greeted several hundred of his fans at an autograph session last Thursday at Golden Gaming’s tavern (S. Jones and I-215) as part of festivities for the 400-miler at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we could sponsor a NASCAR driver," Abraham said. "We just as easily could not have had one. It just made a lot of sense for us. This is a great investment for our company."

So PT’s is now the No. 1 fan of the No. 2 car. And, the feeling is mutual.

"I remember watching a ton of races at PT’s Pubs when I was a kid," said Busch, who finished second in the Daytona 500 two weeks ago. "I think NASCAR fans really enjoy getting together for races. Coming to an environment like PT’s or Sierra
Gold makes it that much more exciting."

While Las Vegas may not be considered a stock car racing hub, it has produced Kurt, his brother Kyle and a dad that put racing in their blood.

"My dad was a local racer in Vegas for years," Busch said "I started racing when I was 15 doing the Saturday night thing and watching the Cup races on Sunday. Once that racing bug sets in, you can’t get rid of it."

Busch said the drivers rank the Las Vegas Motor Speedway among the top five tracks on the circuit. The name Las Vegas is naturally associated with gambling, something NASCAR acknowledges but doesn’t engage in.

"There’s not much talk about gambling on races," he said. "I enjoy the beginning of the year when they come out with the odds, whether it’s the Daytona 500 or the championship."

While Busch said he doesn’t wager on the races, he is aware and appreciative of the prop bet at The Palms, which pits him against Kasey Kahne is a season-long points competition.

"All the money is for charity, and it’s great," Busch said. "They have me favored I think by 6½ positions. That’s pretty heavy. I would almost say you want to take Kasey’s
side of the bet."

Busch did admit to a different form of gambling on the circuit — Texas Hold’em.

"Some serious Texas Hold’em games, especially in rain delays," Busch said."

Poker certainly fits in with the typical NASCAR fan, estimated to number more than 300,000 here for the week. It’s a figure PT’s and Golden Gaming craves.

"A lot of our customers are NASCAR fans and we talking to a really mainstream demographic now," Abraham said. Looking back 10 or 15 years ago, it was more of a niche sport. Not anymore and we’re glad to be with Kurt." — Mark Mayer