INDIANAPOLIS -- Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team enter this weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard with both "short-range and long-term goals." Busch is looking to win this weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor...
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team enter this weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard with both "short-range and long-term goals."
Busch is looking to win this weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for team owner Roger Penske, while also continuing his impressive rise back towards eligibility for the 2007 "Chase for the Championship."
"Everybody knows about Roger's remarkable open-wheel record at Indy, with his 14 Indianapolis 500 wins," said Busch, the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion who will make his 240th career Cup start and 56th for Penske Racing this weekend at IMS. "He's still looking for his first NASCAR win at Indy and there is nothing more we would like than to give 'the Captain' that elusive victory in our Miller Lite Dodge. Rusty (Wallace, former driver of the No. 2 Penske Miller Dodge) came so close several times and it would be an unbelievable accomplishment if we could finally take Roger and Miller to Victory Lane at Indy."
While Busch hopes to win Sunday's race for Penske, he also looks to continue the amazing comeback trail he is on towards cracking the top-12 in series driver points and becoming eligible for the final 10-race "Chase" to decide the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title.
"I really think our Miller Lite Dodge team is starting to hit our stride now and it's certainly coming at the right time," said Busch, who has cut his deficit to 12th by a whopping 159 points in just the last two races. "Pat Tryson has come in and done a tremendous job of steering our ship. He's been super up on the pit box calling the shots during the races and he's managed to get our entire group of guys, myself included, performing like a championship-contending team."
After a 21st-place finish at New Hampshire on July 1, Busch, Tryson and crew battled back to finish a stout third at Daytona the following weekend, then went on to post a solid sixth-place finish after starting from the rear at Chicagoland Speedway in the most recent race. Busch was 15th in the standings after New Hampshire with 1,749 points and he was 236 points behind 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. He enters this weekend's race at IMS 14th in the standings and only 77 points out of 12th.
"So, we're coming into Indy with both short-range and long-term goals," Busch said. "We'd love to be able to get Roger and Miller Lite that first NASCAR Indy win, while we're looking to keep on the competitive roll we've been enjoying over the last few races. The ultimate goal is to make the Chase and we have seven races remaining to get the job done, including Sunday's Brickyard 400."
"It will be one of the biggest thrills of my career to be the crew chief for a Roger Penske-owned team at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, looking to get Kurt and our Miller Lite Dodge team into Victory Lane," said Tryson, who will make his fifth race as leader of Busch's No. 2 Penske Racing team on Sunday. "When you think of success at Indy, you immediately look at what Roger and his teams have accomplished through the years. We're coming in there hoping to make him, Miller Lite, all the other great sponsors and everyone involved proud of our efforts."
Busch started third and finished 12th in last year's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, but those numbers fail to tell the whole story.
"There certainly was a lot more to it than just a third-place start and a 12th-place finish," Busch explained. "We came in there hoping to get Roger's first NASCAR Indy pole and came within seven-thousandths of a second of pulling it off. We were fast in practice, but had to go out late in the qualifying order. [Battling against the odds of having to go out 25th of 50 drivers, he turned in a lap of 49.247 seconds -- 182.752 mph -- which was faster than any lap the remaining 25 drivers could muster. Jeff Burton was the second driver to hit the track and won the pole with a lap of 49.240 seconds -- 182.778 mph -- and Clint Bowyer was sixth in the order and took the second starting spot with his 49.242-second -- 182.771 mph -- lap.] "The TV guys were reporting that it was 17 degrees cooler when Burton and Bowyer made their runs than when we went out.
"Then we blew a left-front tire in practice and had to start the race from the rear in a backup car. We got off to a decent start and were already up into the top 20 before we had to hit pit road for a vibration. We fell back to the rear again and fought our way back up through the pack. We were fast at times, especially early on in the runs, but when the track got rubbered in our car got tight and we had to hang on. We thought we'd pulled out a top-10 finish, but they had a big crash at the end of the race and had a scoring review that placed us 12th in the final running order."
Last-lap incidents involving Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Tony Raines, Greg Biffle, Robby Gordon and Carl Edwards, created a scoring controversy that was debated for more than two hours after the race before a final finishing order was released by NASCAR officials. Busch was listed as finishing 10th in the original finish scored at the race's conclusion. But upon further review, officials moved Hamlin and Raines in front of the No. 2 car, dropping the Miller Lite Dodge team back to a 12th-place finish.