Daytona 500: Kurt Busch race report

Kurt Busch Guides Miller Lite Dodge To Top-10 Daytona Finish DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch brought his No. 2 Penske Racing Charger home in the 10th finishing spot in Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International ...

Kurt Busch Guides Miller Lite Dodge To Top-10 Daytona Finish

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch brought his No. 2 Penske Racing Charger home in the 10th finishing spot in Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. It was a remarkable accomplishment considering he got caught up in a multi-car crash only 18 laps prior to the race being called due to rain after 152 (of 200 scheduled) laps.

"A top-10 finish after tearing the car up like we did is certainly a moral victory, that's for sure," Busch said of his ninth top-10 finish at Daytona in 17 career races. "We had the bumper knocked off and probably had 10 pounds of Bare Bond (a heavy-duty tape) holding all the remaining sheet metal on the car. After the race, if you'd checked the car out, you'd say there's no way we could have finished up there with the way our Miller Lite Dodge looked."

After starting 13th in today's race, Busch ran as high as sixth and as far back as 16th prior to a Lap 26 "competition yellow" that NASCAR officials implemented in order for the teams to check their tire wear. The 2004 Sprint Cup Champ was again 13th as the cars hit pit road, but a 16.380-second pit stop put him back in 19th for the restart.

Fighting a tight-handling Dodge, Busch still became a fixture among the top-15 drivers for the next 28 laps until Travis Kvapil brushed the wall to bring out the second caution flag of the race. The Pat-Tryson-led crew continued to work on their car's handling conditions with air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments.

As the race approached its midpoint, the drivers and team were working under adverse conditions. Several teams had experienced excessive tire wear, while a band of rain showers was closing in on the area.

Kyle Busch led after 100 laps (250 miles), with Jeff Gordon second, Denny Hamlin third, Jamie McMurray fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth. Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and A. J. Allmendinger completed the top 10 at the time.

Penske Racing teammate David Stremme shredded a tire on Lap 119 to bring out the fourth caution flag of the race. Several drivers had pitted prior to the yellow, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was held a lap in his pits due to work being done outside his pit box.

The first drops of rain hit the track just after the Lap 123 restart, but it wasn't heavy enough to stop the race.

A multi-car crash on Lap 134 changed the total complexion of today's race. Earnhardt and Brian Vickers were both running a lap down to the leaders, yet at the front of the pack. Vickers cut down on Earnhardt as he was attempting an inside move. Earnhardt then made contact with Vickers' left-rear quarter-panel, sending the No. 83 Toyota careening wildly back across the track and into the outside wall. Some 18 cars were caught up in the aftermath with Kyle Busch and Hamlin, two prime candidates for Victory Lane, relegated to the garage.

The Miller Lite Dodge sustained heavy sheet metal damage, but fortunately the suspension and radiator remained intact.

"I had nowhere to go in that one," Busch said of the crash after the race. "I hit somebody, somebody hit me and I spun around. That tore the rear bumper off. I wasn't getting bump drafts from the back, but the car was going OK."

Numerous trips to pit road under the caution placed Busch back in the 29th position on the Lap 131 restart. There were 30 cars running in the lead lap.

When Paul Menard crashed on Lap 138, the fifth caution flag of the race was displayed. Several cars hit pit road, but Busch remained on the track and was up to 15th for the Lap 142 restart.

With the rain moving in, Busch got all he could out of the next three laps and had moved up to 10th when Aric Almirola spun into the infield grass on the backstretch.

The sprinkles became a drizzle and by Lap 151, officials were forced to display the red flag and pull the cars down pit road after a final circuit around this 2.5-mile track. With the precipitation getting harder, NASCAR "pulled the plug" on the event and called the race official just before 6:50 p.m. local time.

Matt Kenseth picked up the first Daytona 500 victory for Roush Racing here today. Kevin Harvick finished second, with Allmendinger a surprising third, Bowyer fourth and Elliott Sadler fifth. David Ragan finished sixth, with Michael Waltrip seventh, Stewart eighth, Reed Sorenson ninth and Kurt Busch 10th.

Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. finished 32nd and Stremme finished 33rd.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads out to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for next Sunday's running of the Auto Club 500.

-credit: pr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Jamie McMurray , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Elliott Sadler , David Ragan , Reed Sorenson , Aric Almirola , Sam Hornish Jr. , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil
Teams Team Penske