Busch Finishes 27th in Allstate 400 at the Brickyard INDIANAPOLIS (July 27, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was relegated to a 27th-place finish in Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) after having to...
Busch Finishes 27th in Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS (July 27, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was relegated to a 27th-place finish in Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) after having to make an unscheduled pit stop under the green for a vibration. But with several other drivers also having their misfortunes, the finish was good enough to see Busch maintain his fourth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings and actually add points to his "Chase Buffer," the points advantage he has over the 13th position in the standings.
"That vibration just killed us," Busch said of the adversity that took its toll on what was looking like a potential top-10 run after starting way back in 40th. "We had to pit there under the green and lost a lap. With so few cautions, we just couldn't make it up. We must have logged about 60 laps during two segments, running around as the Lucky Dog guy and couldn't get the caution when we needed it. It was a frustrating day for the Miller Lite Dodge Team. To add to it all, the vibration wasn't a loose wheel. The guys said it was something going on weird with the tire, like it had equalized or something. It was a big disappointment here today, that's for sure."
The 2004 NASCAR Champ had already departed the garage area when the scoring system relayed the updated point standings after today's 400-mile battle, the 20th of 26 races before the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Championship kicks in.
Busch entered today's race fourth in the standings and holding a 241-point advantage over then 13th-place Greg Biffle. After today's race, he is still fourth in the standings and now holds a 247-point advantage over 13th-place David Reutimann. Busch's brother, Kyle, took the biggest hit in the points situation here today, finishing 38th and dropping from 10th to 14th in the standings.
"We'll regroup and really get after it next weekend at Pocono," said crew chief Pat Tryson. "We looked to be headed to a top-15, or maybe even a strong top-10 finish before the vibration problem. I'm proud of Kurt and the guys for hanging in there. If we'd just been able to get a caution there for all those laps. I would have never thought we'd run that long without a yellow. The good thing out of today is that we really didn't lose anything in our bid to make the Chase and we were all concerned about that. We all know that we're going to have to get much stronger during these next six races if we're going to be able to be a viable Chase contender. That's all our big goals for now."
After starting today's race from the 40th spot, Busch made steady progress up through the field. He'd cracked the top-30 at Lap 9 and was up to 25th on Lap 23. Green-flag pit stops began on Lap 29 and Tryson called Busch down pit roads on Lap 30. A 13.781-second pit stop had Busch back out in the 23rd spot on Lap 32, when the stops cycled around.
Busch's day began to unravel only a lap into the run as he radioed in that he had a severe vibration on the right side of his car. The vibration got worse and Tryson called for Busch to hit pit road again on Lap 35 for right-side tires.
The team's "tire guru," Dave "Mule" Nichols, quickly went to work deducing what the problem was. The vibration was not caused by loose lugnuts and a loose wheel from the prior pit stop. It was due to an improper alignment with the tire itself, similar to a situation the team had encountered during a test session here earlier this month.
Busch lost a lap and fell to 35th in the running order. He went on to put himself in the 'Lucky Dog'-eligible position for two different periods that followed for almost 60 laps, including one stretch that lasted from Lap 81 till Lap 117. With Juan Pablo Montoya setting such a blistering pace in the lead and with so few caution periods, Busch never caught the caution he needed during the majority of the race.
The race for the win changed total complexion during a green-flag pit stop segment that began on Lap 123. Leader Montoya enjoyed a healthy five-second lead when he hit pit road on Lap 124. However, he got tagged for speeding leaving pit road and had to make a return trip down the pit lane.
The stops had cycled around on Lap 127 when Dale Earnhardt's blown engine at the entrance to pit road brought out only the third caution flag of the race. When the race returned to green on Lap 136, Montoya, who had led 116 of the laps, was relegated back to the 12th spot.
Mark Martin, who had won the pole and had been running a strong second to Montoya all race long, was the leader on the restart. But only a lap later, it was Hendrick Racing teammate and three-time series champ Jimmie Johnson taking the point.
Although Martin remained close and posed a threat to Johnson in the waning laps, Johnson was able to hold Martin off at the line by 0.400 seconds and take his third career victory here at Indy. Points-leader Tony Stewart crossed the finish line in third. Greg Biffle was fourth and followed by Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick, who grabbed his best finish in 15 races. Kasey Kahne was seventh and followed by David Reutimann, four-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, rounding out today's top-10 finishers.
David Stremme led the Penske Racing contingent here today, finishing a strong 16th of the 24 drivers who completed all 160 laps. Sam Hornish Jr. ran among the top 12 before right-side tire issues sent him to pit road under the green for and unscheduled visit on Lap 69 and an extended stay out of the action for repairs. He returned to action, but made numerous stops under the green and went on to finish in the 37th spot, completing 118 laps.
After 20 races thus far this season, Stewart continues to lead the points with 3,054. Johsnon is now second with 2,862, with Gordon (2,847) third, Busch (2,608) fourth and Carl Edwards (2,556) fifth.
Hornish continues to hold down the 29th position in the standings with 1,806 points, while Stremme's run moved him up to 31st with 1,699 points.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads back to Pocono Raceway for next weekend's running of the Pennsylvania 500.