Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth At Pocono LONG POND, Pa. (June 8, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch rebounded from an early-race spin to finish a strong eighth in today's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. The performance saw him clip another 52...
Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth At Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. (June 8, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch rebounded from an early-race spin to finish a strong eighth in today's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. The performance saw him clip another 52 points off his deficit to the 12th spot in the NASCAR SPRINT Cup point standings.
"We were struggling early with a real loose race car and at the end we were very, very tight," Busch explained immediately after the race concluded. "I just don't know what we're missing. (Kasey) Kahne looked like he was struggling a few weeks back, but now he's winning races. So maybe it's just right around the corner for us."
"It worked out perfect with those yellows (caution flags) during the mid-portion of the race," Busch continued. "We were able to do fuel only one time. We were able to do two tires the next and probably leap-frog15 guys. Maybe the Miller Lite Dodge didn't finish eighth with speed, but we did it with pit strategy. It's been a long year without a top-10, so maybe it's time."
Busch spent much of the morning playing host to young Micah DeKorte and his family. Micah, a six-year-old from New Jersey, was a special guest via the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Micah, who suffers from Leukemia, was treated to a personal tour of the No. 2 team transporter by Busch. Micah accompanied Busch to driver introductions and rode in the back of the military humvee, waving at the fans as the vehicle drove around the track. Micah sat behind the wheel of the No. 2 Penske Dodge out on the grid just before the race started and Busch presented him with his own pair of authentic Alpine Star Racing Shoes.
Busch started today's race from the 11th spot and was discussing a "loose into Turn 1 and tight everywhere else" condition by Lap 15. Adjustments to the car during a pit stop under the yellow on Lap 28 did not remedy the handling situation.
The loose condition entering Turn 1 took its tool on Lap 39 when Busch spun wildly, avoiding the outside wall but sustaining damage to the front end of his Dodge Charger as he plowed back through the infield grass. Fortunately, he was able to keep the car moving as the second caution flag of the race fell.
Even though he fell all the way back to the 43rd (last) running spot in the field, Busch was able to stay in the lead lap. His Pat Tryson-led crew used three trips down pit road during that yellow and two more on the following caution period to repair the broken front splitter, straighten out the bent sheet metal and remove the grass and dirt from the car.
Busch and crew used incredible driving and pit strategy to methodically work their way back up through the field. Two separate two-tire stops along with a fuel-only visit to pit road helped earn the team valuable track position over the final 100 laps of the race.
The No. 2 team caught a big break when they were making their final pit stop of the race. While pitting under the green flag on Lap 176, Kyle Busch spun in the "tunnel turn" to bring out the 10th and final yellow flag of the race. While many of the teams had to hit pit road for their final stops, the No. 2 team had the luxury of lining up in front of those teams for the Lap 181 restart.
Busch had taken on four tires and fuel on his final stop. He restarted 13th when the race went back to green with 19 laps remaining. The car started off handling well for the first couple of laps into the run, but turned extremely tight after that. Busch was able to progress up through the field to post an eighth-place finish, recording his second top-10 tally of the 2008 season.
Pole-winner Kasey Kahne proved to have the strongest car for much of today's race, but had to come from behind due to the pit strategies being played. He passed Brian Vickers for the lead on Lap 185 and went on to celebrate a 3.703-second victory over Vickers at the finish. Denny Hamlin finished third, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Jeff Burton fifth. Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kurt, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin rounded out today's top-10 finishers.
After 14 races have now been placed into the 2008 NASCAR record book, Busch remains 21st in the Sprint Cup point standings. With 1,437 points, he was able to cut the deficit to 12th, the final spot of "Chase eligibility," from 229 points to 177 points with today's performance.
"It was a pretty decent day for our Miller Lite Dodge team," Busch said while relaxing back at his coach some 30 minutes after the race had concluded. "Little Micah said before the race that he was there to bring us some much-needed good luck. We were just so glad that he and his family were able to make it out to the race today, spend some time with us and help root our team on. No, it wasn't a win like we enjoyed here last summer. But the way we've been performing this season, it was definitely a moral victory that we enjoyed here today."
The Sprint Cup tour now heads to Michigan International Speedway for next weekend's LifeLock 400. Next Sunday's LifeLock 400 (200 laps/400 miles) has a 2:00 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.