Kurt Busch Bounces Back To Finish 11th At Atlanta After going a lap down only 30 laps into today's Kobalt Tools 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was already talking on the team radio about the 325-lap race...
Kurt Busch Bounces Back To Finish 11th At Atlanta
After going a lap down only 30 laps into today's Kobalt Tools 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was already talking on the team radio about the 325-lap race being no more than a 500-mile test session.
But the unusually calm Busch, aided by great pit work from his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Dodge crew, persevered and pulled out an 11th-place finish here today and climbed back up to 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points.
"The tires just made it more of a handful," Busch said. "It was a long race for us. We were very, very loose at the beginning. We were probably 20th with the lap down cars, so we were in our own race for three-quarters of the race. When we did get the lucky dog, it was green to the end, so we had a tough time catching up. We did grab two extra spots at the end as we continued to battle. I don't think we could have finished any higher. We worked really hard for 11th and it feels good.
"With the way this car ran in practice, qualifying and the first part of today's race, we have to be pretty pleased with that finish," Busch said. "The most promising thing is that we continuously adjusted on the car and had it running the best it did all day long at the end of the race. May it's an indication that we're making some headway in getting a grasp for this new car."
Busch started today's race from the 29th spot and was well off the blistering pace set by the leaders from the drop of the green flag.
"It's really loose everywhere," Busch radioed on Lap 7. By Lap 25, it was all the 2004 NASCAR champ could do to hang on. "On a scale of one to 10, this thing is a 12 on the loose side," he quipped on his team radio.
Only five laps later, then leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew by to put Busch a lap down.
But, beginning on a Lap 40 pit stop under the first yellow flag of the race, Tryson and team went to work massaging the chassis.
Before the day was over, rubbers were pulled out of both rear springs and a multitude of wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustments were made.
Busch, Tryson and team were relentless in their effort to get back on the lead lap. They finally scored the 'Lucky Dog' free pass and returned to the lead lap with only 43 laps remaining in the race. The big break came when oil from Carl Edward's blown Ford engine brought out the eighth caution flag of the event.
Once back in the lead lap, Busch was able to climb all the way back up to the 11th spot before the laps ran out.
"We got a little bit behind there on the last restart, but Kurt raced his heart out during the entire race and particularly there at the end when he passed Bobby Labonte and Jimmie Johnson for finishing spots," Tryson said. "We struggled here ever since we unloaded on Friday. I'm proud of Kurt and everybody on our team for hanging in there and not giving up.
"For us to come out of here with an 11th-place finish and to be the highest-finishing Dodge was pretty impressive I'd say," Tryson added. "Heck yeah, we'll take it, be pleased with it and go on and get ready to go to Kurt's favorite track, Bristol, next weekend.
Kyle Busch, Kurt's younger brother, posted a history-making win here today, putting Toyota into Victory Lane for the first time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.
The younger Busch led the most laps en route to a 2.067-second victory over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart. Earnhardt finished third, with Greg Biffle fourth and Jeff Gordon fifth. Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and Jeff Burton rounded out today's top-10 finishers. Kurt, Johnson and Labonte completed today's top-13, the drivers still running on the lead lap at the conclusion of the race.
Busch is now 10th in the Sprint Cup point standings after four races. With 478 points, he trails leader Kyle Busch by 187 points. He is 77 points behind fifth-place Burton and trails ninth-place Vickers by only 13 points. (Top 12 listed below.)