FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 28, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led team have been on a competitive tear in recent intermediate track races, scoring a third-place finish in the Oct. 11 race at Lowe's Motor Speedway and a...
FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 28, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led team have been on a competitive tear in recent intermediate track races, scoring a third-place finish in the Oct. 11 race at Lowe's Motor Speedway and a sixth last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch, Tryson and crew are hoping that trend continues in this weekend's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"Our baseline setup that we used to be competitive with at Charlotte (Lowe's) was what we started with at Atlanta last weekend and we'll branch off that foundation again this weekend at Texas," offered Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Champion who is still looking for his first Cup win at T.M.S. "We'll use that core setup and make some tweaks here and there relative to the different demands between the tracks."
In what Busch has continued to describe as a disappointing and frustrating season overall for 2008, the Atlanta/Lowe's/Texas trio of tracks have certainly offered some solace. While Busch is 17th in the point standings and has an overall 21.2 average finish, he has a 13.8 average finish on those tracks this season and 73.1 percent of the laps he has led in 2008 have been in those races.
"What's so promising is that we've been looking back at Sunday's race at Atlanta and we can point to several changes on our race setup that we are convinced would have made us more competitive," said Busch, who scored a victory in his first-ever Nationwide Series start at Texas on April 8, 2006. "It's a work in progress and that's so much better than what we've seen the majority of this season. Most of the races this year, we've been left scratching our heads because we've been so far out in left field.
"We're certainly heading into Texas this weekend hoping we can keep that competitive level going," said Busch, who'll be making his 18th overall start at Texas this Sunday, having competed in 11 Sprint Cup races, two Nationwide races, two Craftsman truck races and two IROC races to date. "It feels really good to be able to run up front again and lead laps. To be within striking distance at the end of the race is something I crave every week we're out there."
"We're making progress and Kurt is driving the wheels off the car," crew chief Tryson added. "What's so promising for the rest of the season is that we think our intermediate track program strength can continue to grow this weekend at Texas and down at Homestead in the final race of the year.
"In between those races, we have Phoenix," said Tryson. "We think what we learned in the Loudon races (New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Busch finished first and sixth) this season will apply there. At least that's what we're hoping."
Busch and his Miller Lite Dodge Team will be racing for a $100,000 bonus contribution to "Operation Homefront-Texas" if they can pull off the win on Sunday at Texas. Regardless of the final race outcome, Busch's efforts on the track will yield a minimum $10,000 donation in his honor.
This is all part of an engaging statewide promotional campaign that sponsor Miller Lite launched several weeks back. The campaign recognizes, celebrates, honors and rewards military veterans, both past and present, for their commitment to serving our country. Miller Lite is teaming with Operation Homefront to support Texas troops and their families. Miller Lite has donated more than $150,000 over the last two years to support the cause. Consumers can also make donations by purchasing Miller Lite-Operation Homefront commemorative gear. Log on to the web site, www.operationhomefront.net/texas to learn more about how you can support Texas Troops.
"This is a great promotion that Miller is doing in support of our military veterans and I'm so pleased to be a part of it," said Busch, whose Dodge will be sporting special Operation Homefront logos this weekend at Texas. "Rest assured that we'll be out there giving it our all to win them that big bonus check."
--Kurt will be racing for a $100,000 bonus contribution to "Operation Homefront-Texas" if he can pull off the win in Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Regardless of the final race outcome, Kurt's efforts on the track will yield a minimum $10,000 donation in his honor. It's all part of an engaging statewide promotional campaign that sponsor Miller Lite launched several weeks back. The campaign recognizes, celebrates, honors and rewards military veterans, both past and present, for their commitment to serving our country. Miller Lite is teaming with Operation Homefront to support Texas troops and their families. Miller Lite has donated more than $150,000 over the last two years to support the cause. Consumers can also make donations by purchasing Miller Lite-Operation Homefront commemorative gear. Log on to the Web site, www.operationhomefront.net/texas to learn more about how you can support Texas Troops.
"This is a great promotion that Miller is doing in support of our military veterans and I'm so pleased to be a part of it," said Kurt, whose Dodge will be sporting special Operation Homefront logos this weekend at Texas. "Rest assured that we'll be out there giving it our all to win them that big bonus check."
--Kurt, Pat and crew are testing today and tomorrow (Oct. 28 & 29) at Nashville Superspeedway, the 1.33-mile D-shaped concrete oval located in Gladeville, Tenn. They are using their "PRS-557" Miller Lite Dodge, the car they raced in the May "All-Star Race" at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "We're trying out some things that will hopefully make us better at Texas and Homestead," Pat reported on Tuesday morning. "We know that it's a stretch to compare what's applicable between the concrete and asphalt surfaces, but we still feel that it's time well spent."
--The Miller Lite Dodge "Over-the-Wall Gang" team members had an exceptional day last Sunday at Atlanta, averaging 12.875 seconds for their eight four-tire pit stops during the race. "It was a solid day for the team all the way around," said Ray Gallahan, the veteran jackman for the crew. "Kurt drove his heart out on the track and we performed really well on pit road. Our slowest stop was a 13.8 and we were hampered on that one because the NASCAR official got in the way on the right front. Our fastest stop of the day was an 11.8 (on Lap 210) and that was so cool because it put Kurt out in the lead." The 2008 "Over-the-Wall Gang" for the No. 2 team includes jackman Gallahan, tire-changers Jay Hackney and Travis Johnson, tire-carriers Dave Littau and Larry Robinett, gas man Chris Williams and gas catch man Steve Williams.
--Kurt completed work last week for a special upcoming feature that will appear in Boating World Magazine. "We spent about half a day with those guys last Monday," said Kurt. "They did a real lengthy interview session and took plenty of photos. We ended the day by going out on the lake and shooting some video for their web site. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what comes out of it. The way the weather has changed, that just might have been the final day we get to spend on the lake this year."
--Kurt's statement he made last week at this time about the 2008 Chase - "It's over - Jimmy times three" - certainly gained credence with Johnson's remarkable run to a runner-up finish at Atlanta last Sunday. "They're on a roll - they're in a zone," Kurt said on Monday night. "It's quite impressive and the incredible comeback they had at Atlanta served further notice. Everyone can see the writing on the wall. The only question is whether the 48 team will have it wrapped up after Phoenix or not..."
--Kurt was running fifth in last Sunday's race at Atlanta when the 10th caution flag of the race flew on Lap 312 of the 325-lap battle. "We gotta get mojo," Kurt radioed while driving his Miller Lite Dodge around under the yellow. "We're not doing bad - we just don't have any mojo." So what did that mean? "It's that little extra 'umph' we needed that was the difference between having a car capable of winning and a car only good enough for a fifth or sixth-place finish," Kurt said with a chuckle on Monday night. Does "Mojo" + "Umph" "Victory Lane?"
--Kurt, Pat and team are racing their "PRS-550" Miller Lite Dodge this weekend at Texas. This is the same care that Kurt raced to a third-place finish on Oct. 11 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The car was first raced at Darlington in May, where Kurt started fifth and had a top-five run going until a right-front suspension problem relegated him to a 12th-place finish. Kurt raced the car in the June Pocono race, where he started 11th and finished eighth. It was raced again at Chicagoland in July, where engine woes relegated Kurt to a 28th-place finish, and also in the August Pocono race, where Kurt ran out of fuel twice on the way to a 38th-place finish. --Kurt is one of many celebrities competing in Thursday night's Fourth Annual Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament benefitting the Speedway Children's Charities. The special worthwhile night of "keggling" competition will be held at the Brunswick Zone-Watauga, with the activities beginning at 6:00 p.m. CDT. Over the past three years, the tournament has raised $307,000 to benefit the Texas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. For additional information on the venue and directions, please log on to: www.pegasusnews.com/places/brunswick-zone-watauga/
--Kurt still has a shot at defending his 2007 Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race annual crown. With only three races remaining, he trails Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman 14-11 in the year-long contest. The award is given to the winner of each race or the next-highest-finishing eligible competitor. The recipient receives a $5,000 bonus per race and the driver who wins the most awards during the season receives a $100,000 bonus at the end of the year. "One of the best memories I have from the trip last year to New York for the awards banquet was getting the bonus check for winning the contest at Cipriani there that Thursday," said Kurt. "One thing about it this year, it looks like Pat D. (Pat Didomenicis, motorsports manager for ExxonMobil Corporation) will be giving the award to a Penske driver for the second year in a row."