Kurt Busch Fights to 11th-Place Finish at Bristol BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 22, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch started 32nd in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, survived what could have been a catastrophic early-race ...
Kurt Busch Fights to 11th-Place Finish at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 22, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch started 32nd in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, survived what could have been a catastrophic early-race incident and pulled out an 11th-place finish. The come-from-behind drive moved him up to second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings after five races have entered the 2009 record books.
"We had a great Miller Lite Dodge here today," said Busch after changing back to his street clothes and emerging from his team transporter after the race. "We just got in trouble early and had to keep on battling back. It was on the long green-flag runs where we thought we could really catch up. Man, everybody had good cars here today.
"We came home 11th, one shy of a top-10," Busch continued. "The overall big picture is that we just need to work hard on getting better - particularly getting our car to turn better in the corners - here and on the short tracks. I really think we've fixed the mile-and-a-half stuff."
After starting 32nd in Sunday's race, Busch was up to 30th on Lap 59 when a spin by Todd Bodine caused the pack to get stacked up in between Turns 3 an 4, with the No. 2 Dodge getting into the rear of Kevin Harvick's Chevrolet.
The incident brought out the third yellow flag of the race and allowed Busch's Pat Tryson-led crew to repair fairly extensive damage to the front end and the left-front quarter-panel areas of their car.
Busch fell to 39th for the Lap 67 restart and spent the remainder of the race making a steady charge toward the front. He was all the way back up to 22nd on the Lap 129 restart after the fourth caution period. He was up to 17th on the Lap195 restart after the fifth caution flag had flown.
At the halfway point (Lap 250), Busch was up to 14th. He had climbed to 12th on Lap 328 and moved forward to 11th with 50 laps to go. Busch became almost possessed in his effort to post his fourth top-10 finish of the year.
A final caution that came out on lap 494 for Joey Logano's blown engine set up a green-white-checkered finish. With Busch lining up 11th on the Lap 501 restart, he was focused on getting a "Glory finish," by placing in the top 10. With Marcos Ambrose running down a cylinder in his Toyota, he was still able to hug the inside line and squeak out taking the final top-10 finishing spot by a matter of inches over Busch.
Up front, it was the younger Busch Brother, who led the most laps but had to battle back on several occasions to regain the lead, taking his second victory in the last three races. Denny Hamlin finished second, with Jimmie Johnson third, Jeff Gordon fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth. Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, Juan Montoya and Ambrose rounded out today's top-10 finishers.
Kurt Busch was 11th, followed by David Reutimann, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and A.J. Almendinger, rounding out the 16 drivers completing all 503 laps. Busch's Penske Racing teammate David Stremme finished 19th, running a lap down. Stremme remained a strong lead-lap competitor until spinning out on Lap 454 to bring out the eight caution period of the race. Sam Hornish Jr. was credited with a 31st-place finish, running four laps behind the winner.
With his strong comeback run here today, Busch climbed to second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. With 718 points, he trails leader Gordon by 76 points. Bowyer is third and three points behind Busch. Kyle Busch is up to fourth and trails his older brother by nine points. Edwards rounds out the top five and is 55 points behind the Miller Lite Dodge driver. Kahne is sixth in points (639), with Tony Stewart seventh (633), Hamlin eighth (631), Johnson ninth (627) and Matt Kenseth 10th (610). Stremme is 22nd (502) and Hornish is 32nd (398).
"To me, today's race and how we performed was a big statement of how far our team has come," said Tryson. "We bounced back from adversity like a championship team does and got an 11th-place finish out of it. That's the kind of performance you'd associate with the 48 team (three-time series champion Jimmie Johnson) and that has me really happy right now. The bottom line is that we moved up to second in points, but because we didn't get us another top-10 finish, we're not totally satisfied. That's really promising to me."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour moves on to its second consecutive short track, with the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway now on tap.