BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch has amassed five victories in only 13 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Bristol Motor Speedway and he hopes to add to that record in Saturday night's Sharpie 500 on the ...
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch has amassed five victories in only 13 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Bristol Motor Speedway and he hopes to add to that record in Saturday night's Sharpie 500 on the lightening-fast, half-mile, high-banked track.
"If we could win, it would be more than just our sixth victory on my favorite track -- it would be much, much more than that," said Busch, who claimed his second win of the season Tuesday at Michigan and possesses the 12th and final Chase-eligible points position by a 163-point advantage with only three races remaining to decide who makes the cut. "It would be vindication, proof that hard work really pays off and confirmation that our COT program is getting there -- all wrapped up in one nice package -- and we'd have the big trophy to prove it."
Busch has won two of the last three races on the 2007 Cup tour and finished no worse than 11th over the last six races under crew chief Pat Tryson's leadership. However, those wins came in Dodge Chargers. This weekend, Busch will be in the Miller Lite Dodge Avenger.
"The spring race at Bristol was one of the lowest points of my career and I've never tried to hide that fact," Busch said. "It was the debut of our new Dodge Avenger and the very first race for the COT cars. We just fell flat on our tails and I was very embarrassed about it."
Busch qualified 42nd and finished 29th in the March 25 Food City 500.
"We practiced terrible, we qualified terrible and we raced terrible," Busch continued. "That's about all there is to say about that weekend. As much as I love Bristol, I can't ever remember being so glad to climb out of a race car and hurry out of the track.
"But that was then and this is now. We're light years ahead of where we were back then with our COT program at Penske Racing. We left the track that day back in March pretty down in the dumps, knowing that we had our work cut out for us.
"The determination and hard work our team has put forth has put us back in contention again. We may not be as consistently strong as the Hendrick cars or the Gibbs teams with our COT cars, but we're getting there. We've definitely seen tremendous improvement.
"We left Bristol and ran mediocre the next week at Martinsville to finish 12th. We were running sixth at Phoenix and got caught by a caution. We were much better than that 18th-place finish showed.
"We really started turning the corner at Richmond in May, I feel. We started the race from back in the pack [33rd] and got spun out early in the race. We were actually dead last [43rd] and running a lap down because of a lug nut getting stuck on our pit stop. We came blasting on up through there and blew by every car on the track to take the lead. We had a car strong enough to win the race, but we pitted out of sequence and gave away the track position we'd earned during the final quarter of the race.
"We've had strong Dodge Avengers in the other races, too. We definitely had a top-five car at Dover before the incident with (Tony) Stewart. Our road course COT cars have been plenty strong enough to get the job done.
"Now we're heading back to Bristol, looking to prove ourselves. Of course, there are a few question marks we have entering this weekend with the new track layout and the new racing surface. We were there for the Goodyear tire test a few weeks back [July 25], but it rained all day and we never got out on the track. We'll be coming into Bristol this weekend, hoping to be quick learners, looking to get a handle on the place in a hurry."
Tryson notes that Busch "is a master on this type of track and we're confident he'll be able to continue being the new king of the Bristol high banks."
"The Goodyear test would have been a big plus for us, but we're not too worried about it," Tryson continued.
"We've gone back and looked at the situation the team had during the spring Bristol race and everyone here knows that we made some pretty blatant mistakes. This is definitely not indicative of what we will look like this weekend at Bristol, I can guarantee you that. As for not getting the tire testing or any other track time there before this weekend, you have to remember that we have Kurt Busch driving our Miller Lite Dodge. That speaks volumes. I look for our learning curve there on Friday to be a very short one.
"We decided to bring the (PSC-) 516 Miller Lite Dodge to Bristol this weekend and we think Kurt will have a very competitive car under him. This is the same car that the team raced at Darlington back in May [started 18th and finished 12th after a late-race pit stop ended a top-five run] and it should be a great car for the demands that the concrete, high-banked track we're racing on this weekend call for."
-credit: penske racing