Kurt Busch Secures 17th-place Result in LifeLock.com 400 JOLIET, Ill. (July 11, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch had to settle for a 17th-place finish in Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway after a late-race ...
Kurt Busch Secures 17th-place Result in LifeLock.com 400
JOLIET, Ill. (July 11, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch had to settle for a 17th-place finish in Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway after a late-race incident ended a solid top-10 run. The result sees Busch maintain his fourth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, but also sees his "points buffer" for "Chase eligibility" decrease after 19 races have been completed on the 2009 schedule.
"I guess it was just a late-race rumble there and we came out on the short end of the stick," Busch said. "I don't know what the problem is with Jimmie (Johnson) and me, but we're running into each other way too often it seems. It (the contact made) was definitely a by-product of the double-file restarts and what can happen shortly after. Everyone is digging, rooting and gouging for everything they can get.
"We're disappointed because we had a solid top-10 car and came out of here with a 17th-place finish," said Busch. "We chose to stay out when the 24 and the others pitted for fresh rubber and that's what probably cost us most. But it was a hard call to make and we tried to maintain our track position. All was well until the 48 split us and put me up into the wall. We pitted there at the end to repair the fender damage and get four fresh tires, but there's not too much catching up you can do with a green-white-checkered finish like we had. I'm pretty livid right now, to tell you the truth.
"It's a great time to have an off week on our schedule," Busch added. "We'll tire-test at Atlanta, take a breather and then come back ready to get after it again at Indy."
Busch started 22nd Saturday, but made steady progress to the front. He was able to pass David Reutimann for the 10th spot on Lap 82 and became a staple among the top-10 for all but the final few laps of the race.
With only a handful of cautions, mostly for debris, many of the pre-race favorites found themselves a lap down, considering the torrid pace leaders Mark Martin and Johnson were keeping up front.
Crew chief Pat Tryson called Busch down pit road on Lap 212 under the third caution of the race. The plan was to go the distance after that stop. Two quick cautions saw several cars pit for fresh tires and line up behind Busch with 35 laps to go.
The key moves began to take place under the sixth yellow flag of the race, which came out on Lap 246 when Reutimann was knocked into the wall by Juan Pablo Montoya. Under that yellow, several cars running "borderline top-10" hit pit road for four fresh Goodyears. For most, it would pay the ultimate benefit.
With 17 laps to go on the restart, things got extremely competitive, especially with the new double-file restarts recently applied. Busch was seventh on the restart, but immediately felt pressure from the guys with fresh rubber closing in from behind.
Johnson and others on the outside line seemed to check up as the inside line blew by. Busch had squeaked by with an inside-then-outside move. Jeff Gordon, with fresh tires, blasted by down on the inside, only to see Johnson bully his way into the middle and eventually force Busch into the outside wall on Lap 253.
Busch sustained damage to his rear quarter-panel and a heavy plume of smoke billowed lap after lap. He fell back to the 15th spot before Kyle Busch smacked the wall on Lap 260 to bring out the seventh caution flag of the night.
Tryson called Busch down pit road on lap 263 for four fresh tires and to address the bent sheet metal issue. Busch lined up 17th for the green-white-checkered finish and, with the final eight cars on the lead lap also pitting for tires, he was unable to make up any spots in the final laps.
"We were a sixth to 10th-place car most of the night," Tryson added. "It just didn't work for us there at the end. We got run into by the 48 and it kind of ruined our evening. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Martin emerged with a 0.415-second victory over Gordon. Kasey Kahne finished third, with Tony Stewart fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth. Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Johnson, Clint Bower and Montoya rounded out the top-10 finishers. Marcos Ambrose, Reutimann, A. J. Allmendinger, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick rounded out the 19 drivers who finished on the lead lap Saturday night.
Penske Racing's David Stremme finished 26th, while Sam Hornish Jr., running near the top-10 for most of the race, was involved in a late-race crash and finished 38th.
With seven races remaining to determine the players in this season's "Chase for the Championship," Stewart leads with 2,884 points, 175 points ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon. Johnson is third with 2,672, with Busch fourth (2,526) and Hamlin (2,457) fifth. Edwards (2,438), Newman (2,385), Kahne (2,336), Montoya (2,321), Kyle Busch (2,298), Martin (2,296) and Matt Kenseth (2,295) round out the current top-12 drivers with "Chase eligibility."
Hornish (1,754) holds down the 29th spot in the standings, while Stremme (1,584) is shown in the 32nd spot.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour gets a much needed weekend off next week before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the July 26 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.