WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. (Aug. 7, 2007) -- Fresh off a dominant win in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch heads back to the Watkins Glen International road course hoping to defend his Saturday Zippo 200 ...
WATKINS GLEN, N. Y. (Aug. 7, 2007) -- Fresh off a dominant win in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch heads back to the Watkins Glen International road course hoping to defend his Saturday Zippo 200 crown and score a vindicating win in Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen NEXTEL Cup race.
"We experienced an almost perfect weekend at The Glen last year, winning the pole for both races and coming out on top in Saturday's Busch race after an exciting last-lap battle with Robby Gordon," said Busch, who will again pilot the No. 39 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in Saturday's NBS race on the winding 2.45-mile layout at the southern end of the Finger Lakes wine country.
"We had the car to beat in last year's Cup race there and most likely would have won it if not for the controversial call that got us. We had led the most laps and had a dominating performance going, but it was just another one that got away.
"We're coming back in there hoping to be as competitive as we were in last year's race. With us running the new COT Dodge Avenger this weekend, it'll be a big challenge to equal the strength we had with last year's car, but our team is getting stronger and stronger and it's within our potential.
"That's why we spent all day yesterday [Monday] down at Road Atlanta getting our stuff sorted out for the upcoming weekend. I think it was time well spent and will definitely help us out this weekend."
Road Atlanta is a 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course located in the rolling hills of northeast Georgia.
Last year at Watkins Glen, Busch and his Penske Racing teams were headed toward making huge marks in the NASCAR record books before the controversial and disappointing call was made in Sunday's NEXTEL Cup race. After claiming the pole on Friday for Sunday's NEXTEL Cup race, Busch won the pole and the race in Saturday's NBS Zippo 200, driving his yellow No. 39 Penske Truck Rental Dodge. While there had been several drivers to win both races during a single weekend, there had never been a driver to win both poles and both races.
Busch started from the pole in last year's Cup race at The Glen with his fast Friday qualifying lap of 122.966 mph, 71.727 seconds, and proved he had the car to beat. He had his Miller Lite Dodge up front for 38 laps and was leading after lap 53 when his opportunity to add another chapter to the record books was spoiled.
While making his final scheduled pit stop under the green, working lap 54, race-leader Busch veered to the right and turned down pit lane. Just as he made his move, the caution flag waved for Joe Nemechek's spin entering the carousel turn. NASCAR officials ruled that Busch had not made it to the commitment line before the flag was displayed and the team was notified Busch would have to restart at the end of the longest line.
Busch's promising day unraveled from there. After being sent to the rear of the field on the following restart and surviving a multi-car crash to make it back to 11th on the final lap, his major comeback was not to be. Getting caught up in a multi-car incident involving Penske teammate Ryan Newman, Boris Said and Ron Fellows in the inner-loop on the final lap, Busch was eventually credited with a 19th-place finish.
"It was a huge disappointment the way things turned out in last year's Cup race at The Glen," Busch said. "We were fastest in all the practices, won the poles and took that wild win over Robby Gordon in the Busch race on Saturday. But it was very typical of the way our luck ran last season in general on the Cup side. There were so many races where we had the potential to win, but just couldn't pull it off for one reason or another.
"There's definitely a different feeling and confidence level within our team this time around heading into Watkins Glen. If the opportunity is out there, we're going to latch on and ride it all the way to victory lane."
"It's all about momentum -- 'the big mo' -- and Kurt and our entire Miller Lite Dodge team certainly have it going for us," said crew chief Pat Tryson, who'll call the shots for his seventh race as Busch's team leader this weekend. "If you're fortunate enough to have 'the big mo' on your side, it's best to ride it for all it's worth and that's exactly what we're hoping to do. We're not looking behind us at all. We have the blinders on and are only looking forward. You don't look back."
When it was pointed out that his team is in what could be labeled a precarious position in the points, holding down the 12th and final spot in Chase eligibility by a mere seven points over Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tryson was quick on the draw.
"That's precisely what I'm talking about," said Tryson. "When you're riding that momentum, you better be looking ahead and not wasting any energy looking in that rear view mirror. We're looking at the situation right now as being only 38 points out of 11th [Martin Truex Jr.] and 153 out of 10th [Clint Bowyer]. We have another five races to run before the Chase clicks in and there's so much that can happen during that period. You have to look at it as building a cushion as far as the points go and the best way to go about that is to focus forward. This is definitely not the right time to get in any serious defensive mode."