KURT BUSCH LOOKING FOR “BIG REBOUND” IN SUNDAY’S DOVER BATTLE
The big thing is that we need to get the consistency heading back in the right direction.
DOVER, Del. -- Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch is confident that his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double Deuce" team can return to being a frontrunner in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is looking to reverse a recent three-race stretch of races that has produced a 22.3 average finish and a best tally of 18th during that period.
"We're looking for a big rebound this weekend at Dover and we're confident we can have the turnaround type of performance that our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team is needing right now," said Busch, who is now eighth in the point standings after finishing 27th last Saturday night at Darlington. "Dover was the track where we had our best finish during last year's Chase and we know we're capable of going in there and having another competitive run."
Busch posted top-10 finishes in the first four races this season and was the points leader after finishing seventh at Bristol on March 20. He fell to third after finishing 17th at Fontana on March 27 and a 16th-place finish at Martinsville a week later dropped him to fourth. After a 10th-place finish at Texas, Busch maintained the fifth spot in the points when he finished 18th at Talladega on April 17.
Busch carried an incredible 99.960 lap completion average into Richmond, completing all but one (2,508 of 2,509) of the possible laps. He has nine unfinished laps in just the last two races.
"The big thing is that we need to get the consistency heading back in the right direction," said Busch. ‘We were riding high up there in the points for several races because we were finishing all the races and running on the lead lap. The last couple of races we haven't been able to do that and it's taken its toll.
"I know you can point at our bad qualifying effort at Richmond and us crashing our primary car at Darlington and say that's the reason for where we are right now. But, the bottom line is that we've gotta get back to finishing on the lead lap and back to getting the top-10s and working our way toward the top-five finishes.
"Hopefully we can do that this weekend at Dover," said Busch. "We led laps there last fall and even came back from a speeding penalty to finish a strong fourth. We just need to come in there and have a nice solid weekend. I am confident that we can have that kind of turnaround this week at the ‘Monster Mile.'"
Although Busch enters this weekend's Dover battle still looking for his first win on the lightning-fast high-banked one-mile concrete track, he has posted five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 21 career races there. Three of those top-five finishes have come in the last four races.
"Dover has been a pretty decent track for us through the years," said Busch, who has an 11.1 average start and 18.9 average finish on the "Monster Mile." "It has a lot of history for me personally because it was the track where I made my very first Cup start back in the fall of 2000. Yeah, if you would have told me years ago that we'd be coming back into Dover after all these races without a win, I would have said, ‘Man, you've gotta be kidding me.'
"We've had some strong cars there, especially over the last couple of years," said Busch. "We've led laps and been in contention for the win several times, but just haven't been able to pull it off. It's one of the tracks that we've been most consistent in making the right adjustments through the race and we're certainly hoping that trend continues there this weekend.
"To be successful at Dover, you have to stay on top of the changing track conditions during the race. It's a track where your car can start getting tighter and tighter as the track gets rubbered in and we'll go in there this weekend definitely with that situation on our minds when it comes to our race setup."
After finishing fifth in both Dover races in 2009, Busch started 12th and finished 19th in last spring's race. Busch, Addington and crew came back to Dover last September with a brand new Dodge Charger. Busch started eighth and finished fourth. He was credited for leading on two occasions for a total of three laps.
"We started off pretty decent in last May's Dover race and thought we had a chance for a solid top-five or top-10 finish, but we just got tighter and tighter as the race went on," said crew chief Addington. "We wound up shredding a right-front tire and it was some amazing driving by Kurt to keep it out of the fence.
"We came back for the September race with another new Dodge Charger and were good right off the trailer and all through the weekend," said Addington. "We qualified eighth and started out a little bit too loose. Kurt drove the wheels off the thing and was up to third when we got tagged for speeding about half-way through the race. We fell to 18th after the penalty and rallied to finish fourth. We had the fastest car out there for about a fourth of the race. We had great pit stops along the way and it was a solid effort by everyone on the team. We're headed back to Dover looking for another good weekend like that."
Busch, Addington and team will be racing their brand new "PRS-752" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in this weekend's Dover action.
-source: penske racing