The emotions hit Kurt Busch all at once last year during the Cup Series’ October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 45 car was on the Roval course just seconds away from beginning an important Cup playoff race. He let everything he saw sink in — the pink window nets in every Cup car and the pink pit road walls.
“I didn’t really absorb all the nets being up until right after they said, ‘Start your engines,’” Busch told reporters Tuesday in the infield of Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. “And I’m looking around during those pace laps, and I was like, ‘This is finally happening.’”
It turns out it’ll happen again.
The veteran driver announced the “Window of Hope” pink window net program will return for a second-straight year when the Cup Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 9.
The program is simple: Each driver will race with a pink window net. After the race, each driver will sign their net and have it auctioned through the NASCAR Foundation.
All proceeds this year will benefit the Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute’s Project PINK — established to increase access to life-saving mammography screenings for uninsured women in the Charlotte area — and go toward funding “Free Mammography Days” in communities where services like this haven’t been available.
Last year, Busch said, the effort raised closed to $100,000.
“NASCAR helped us push that around the country,” said Busch, who will likely not be racing Oct. 9 as he continues his recovery from a brain injury. “Now, we’re doing it locally, with our Blue Cross Blue Shield family in North Carolina. And it’s just neat to see the women come out, and the stories that you’ll hear, and the support that everybody has of this community.”
The beginning of Window of Hope truly began in September 2019, when Busch received a letter from a 9-year-old boy named Mason Bradley whose mother was fighting breast cancer. Bradley’s note featured a hand-drawn image of Busch’s car and said, “Maybe you could do the window net pink.”
Busch, inspired by the letter, took Bradley’s idea up to the highest levels of NASCAR and — with help from Thermal Control Products (who made the nets) and approval from Speedway Motor Sports CEO Marcus Smith — made it happen.
“It was literally just a fan note, a fan letter, that came to the race shop,” Busch said. “This one, it just hit me. … I called Jim France at NASCAR, he told me to talk with the NASCAR Foundation, and things started to blossom from there.”
Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway was flooded in pink Tuesday. Breast cancer survivors wore the color during the announcement and also painted the pit road walls in pink ahead of the October CMS race, like they’ve done the previous 10 years. Busch also helped paint the walls like he did last year.
Reagan Greene of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and breast cancer survivor E. Reese were among those wearing pink.
Reese, who is Black, shared her breast cancer story Tuesday and underscored the importance of reaching women of all backgrounds, neighborhoods and ethnicities. According to the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, African-American women have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate — the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group.
“Only 3% of clinical trials are made up of Black women,” Reese said. “That’s why it’s so important that we encourage participation in these critical trials. It can save lives.”
A pink pace car to lead Cup field at Bank of America Roval 400
The pace car of the Oct. 9 race will also be splattered in pink. On Tuesday, two paint designs for the pace car were unveiled. NASCAR fans can vote for which car will pace the race next weekend.
You can go to DFTC250pacecar.com to vote for the pace car hood design.
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