Busch, Miller Lite Team Win Coca-Cola 600 CONCORD, N.C. (May 30, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" Team posted a dominating win in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor...
Busch, Miller Lite Team Win Coca-Cola 600
CONCORD, N.C. (May 30, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" Team posted a dominating win in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, leading 12 times for a total of 252 of the 400 laps. The battle for the win wasn't as easy as those statistics sound, however, as Busch had to hold off a charge by Jamie McMurray, driver for the Chip Ganassi-owned team that had just celebrated a victory in the Indianapolis 500 only hours earlier. Busch had to count on a late-race caution and excellent work in the pits by his crew to pick up the 22nd victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career and the first win in the prestigious 600-miler for Penske Racing.
"It's unbelievable how much this is a team effort," said Busch, who not only recorded his first win in the 600, but also his first-ever top-five and top-10 finish in the series' longest race. "I get the spoil job of driving an awesome Miller Lite Dodge like this. This is a great team. Everybody pulls the rope in the same direction. It's unbelievable to have a car that would stick that good. This being Memorial Day, I thought about the troops all day long. To all the men and women that serve and protect our freedom, thank you. We'll be celebrating on the lake tomorrow. Everybody should stop by their convenience store tomorrow and get these Miller Lite Vortex bottles, that's what I'm talking about. And Tuesday, go buy a Dodge.
"Most important, Roger (Penske), this one was for you," Busch said. "I thought about that Ganassi car behind me. He wasn't going to get by. It's unbelievable with this team. To have a car to run that well last Saturday night on the short runs and to have a car today to make the long runs was awesome. This team deserves it. It's a special fete to win the All-Star race and the 600. It's just a fantastic day for all of our employees, all of our associates and Miller Lite of course and for Dodge. With this Dodge program, we're going strong."
After starting tonight's from the outside pole position, Busch muscled around pole-winner Ryan Newman on Lap 12 and began stretching his lead. Except for periods of the race when green-flag stops were cycling around or when tire strategy came into play, the 2004 series champion was rarely threatened up front until the closing laps. Coming into today's race, Busch had never led the 600 during the final 100 miles and that's when McMurray staged his challenge here tonight.
Busch had experienced an overheating condition due to a large piece of paper covering the grill area of his Dodge with a little over 100 laps remaining. The "Blue Deuce" driver purposefully had backed off and allowed McMurray to pass on Lap 299. Busch quickly ducked in behind the No. 1 Chevy and the moved was successful in clearing the trash off the grill.
After a Lap 313 restart, Busch was able to pull back out to a comfortable lead. At Lap 320, he had a 1.282-second lead over second-place McMurray. Busch developed a minor "tight in, loose off" condition which allowed McMurray to close in and finally take the point on Lap 340.
McMurray had pulled out to a 1.631-second advantage with 50 laps remaining and still enjoyed a 1.404-second lead over Busch when a round of green-flag stops cycled around on Lap 366. He had stretched his lead to 2.225 seconds on Lap 377 when Marcos Ambrose crashed exiting Turn 2 to bring out the eighth caution flag of the race.
Addington called for two right-side tires and an air pressure adjustment. The Miller Lite "over-the-wall gang" responded with an incredible 5.826-second pit stop which got Busch out first of all the cars opting to hit pit road.
Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Newman chose to stay out under the final yellow and lined up in the positions in front of Busch for the Lap 381 restart. Then came Matt Kenseth, McMurray, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann who completed the top 10 at the time.
Busch wasted little time disposing of the three cars in front on Lap 382 and jumping out to a comfortable lead over McMurray, who finally broke free of the traffic on Lap 385. With 10 laps remaining, Busch enjoyed a 15 car-length lead over McMurray and maintained that distance down to the wire. At the finish line, it was Busch taking the win by 0.737 seconds over McMurray. Kyle Busch finished third, with Martin fourth and Reutimann fifth. Gordon, Bowyer, Paul Menard, Newman and Kenseth rounded out the top-10 finishers. Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski finished 17th and 20th, respectively.
"This has been a dream come true...to be able to wrap up this special weekend...to put a bow on it with this Coca-Cola 600 win," Busch said of winning the race. "It's a prestigious race, a tough race, and most of all it's a team race. This was a fantastic job by my guys that battled all day long to keep me up front. I don't know what our worst running position was, but I can't say it was worse than fifth or sixth maybe. Great pit stops, great calls by Steve Addington, Dave Winston, my guys. This was a race for the ages to. Have a car as good as it was in the daytime, I was afraid of it at night. I didn't know if it was going to be able to give me the handle like it had early on in the race. It played out in our favor.
"I'm speechless in the fact that we swept both races," Busch said of the fact that his team also claimed the win in last week's Sprint All-Star Race here at CMS. "But it's an unbelievable weekend for Miller Lite, their Vortex bottle, Memorial Day weekend for all of our troops giving us our freedom. I thought about those guys all day long. When you're out there racing your heart out, you see things come your way; you just have to thank the Lord as well. Things fell into our hands, especially at the end. To get a caution, quick adjustment, make our car even better. McMurray kept us honest. He was right there at the end. It wasn't like we faded back into the pack; he just separated himself from the pack to come and get us. He taught me a couple things about my line. I needed to adjust it. It helped us stay out in front of him at the end. Real happy we were able to bring this home, especially for Dodge. We're going to celebrate big Memorial Day with Miller Lites tomorrow. When the Dodge dealerships open up, when Kurt wins, you win. Hopefully whoever signed up is going to get a Dodge Challenger. Happy to bring that home for somebody."
"It's awesome," Addington said of tonight's big victory. "I don't know how to describe the feeling, but I know it feels really good to look on the guys' faces when you cross that finish line first. That's what it's all about. I love seeing the guys happy, and their hard work pays off. We sit and talk about what we need to put in the race car. The guys that are out there making pit stops and working on the car are the ones that really put their sweat and blood out there for us to be able to run good. That's the big key for me, is to be able to come to Charlotte and run this good. We came here and accomplished what we needed to accomplish."
With the win, Busch climbed three spots to sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. After 13 races, he now trails leader Kevin Harvick by 172 points. He is 143 points behind second-place Kyle Busch and only six points behind fifth-place Denny Hamlin. With 1,726 points, he now has a 193-point "buffer" over 13th-place Bowyer.
After spending the last two weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now moves on to Pocono Raceway for next Sunday's running of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500.