Michigan: Kurt Busch race report

Kurt Busch Finishes 21st At Michigan No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch started 22nd and finished 21st in Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The result saw him climb two spots on the NASCAR Sprint Cup points, yet...

Kurt Busch Finishes 21st At Michigan

No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch started 22nd and finished 21st in Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The result saw him climb two spots on the NASCAR Sprint Cup points, yet fall back to 227 points in the deficit to 12th.

"It wasn't any fun at all out there today, that's for sure," said Busch, who had posted a dominant win here in the most recent Cup race last August. "We were just so loose during the first part of the race and it seemed like we came in there with none of the adjustability that we needed. We tried putting spring rubbers in and after spinning the thing out, we took them out.

"The amazing thing was that we were able to gain from our own misfortune," said Busch. "It wasn't anything that I'll ever be proud of, but we made the best of it. We were really fortunate to finish that high. We came in here looking at the big picture and that's what we're faced with from now on until we get to Richmond in September."

Busch had an ill-handling car from the drop of the green flag in today's 400-mile, 200-lap race here on the 2.0-mile MIS track. It was so ill-handling that he spun out on his own exiting Turn 2 while running 36th and almost two laps down to the leaders to bring out the third caution of the day on Lap 103.

Busch's bad luck at the moment turned into good fortune as the race continued. Already running a lap down to the leaders, the Pat Tryson-led team began to "bank" extra fuel mileage by pitting on the "one-lap-to-go" circuit before restarts. With an ill-handling car and a bit down on power, Busch continued to stay out during the long green-flag span after his spin. The team's strategy paid off as hee got the "lucky dog" free pass back onto the lead lap on Lap 146 when the fourth yellow flag fell for Bobby Labonte's spin on the backstretch.

"It was like we were in the catch-up mode from the drop of the green flag and I'll take a lot of the heat from that," said crew chief Tryson. "We were off on our setup for the race. The way the track changed from Friday to yesterday and again today was a challenge. Once we got behind, it was a matter of doing what we could to be in position to advance. We caught a big break when the caution came out during our green flag run when we had been the last to top off with fuel. That got us the 'lucky dog' and put us back in the lead lap. It was just a situation of getting all we could out of the remainder of the race."

Busch wasn't the only driver who used fuel mileage to his advantage here today. Dale Earnhardt Jr. coasted to a win in today's race under the yellow in a car sputtering from a lack of fuel.

Earnhardt, at best a top-five candidate for all of the race, had pitted last on Lap 148 and was able to stretch the distance, surviving a green-white-checkered finish to post a win under the caution over Kasey Kahne.

Patrick Carpentier's Turn 4 spin caused the race to end under the yellow and produced the finish with Earnhardt breaking a 76-race winless streak. Kasey Kahne finished second, with Matt Kenseth third, Brian Vickers fourth and Tony Stewart fifth. Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Elliott Sadler and Jamie McMurray rounded out today's top-10 finishers.

Kyle Busch continues to lead the Sprint Cup point standings after 15 races have been concluded. With 2,213 points, he holds a 32-point advantage over second-place Jeff Burton. On the other end of the "Chase spectrum" it is now Clint Bowyer falling back to 12th. With 1,764 points, he is only 10 points ahead of 13th-place Ragan and just 14 points ahead of 14th-place Kenseth.

Kurt Busch is 19th in the standings and trails his points-leading brother Kyle by 676 points. Most importantly is that Kurt now trails 12th-place Bowyer by 227 points with 11 races remaining to determine who makes the 2008 "Chase" for the championship.

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Patrick Carpentier , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , David Ragan , Kyle Busch