Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth In Wild Shootout at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch brought his Penske Racing Charger home in eighth-place in Saturday night's Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. The special...
Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth In Wild Shootout at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch brought his Penske Racing Charger home in eighth-place in Saturday night's Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. The special 75-lap non-points event became more of a survival race than the short "dash for the cash" many onlookers expected.
"Man, that was crazy out there tonight," Busch said of the race, which featured an incredible eight different caution flags with a total of 23 laps completed under the yellow. "We've had 500-mile races here before that didn't have that many cautions. We were very fortunate that we weren't caught up in a couple of the crashes. You kind of figured that the way things were going, we were destined to see a green-white-checkered finish."
Busch started the race from the 12th spot and became a fixture in the top-10 early in the race. He ran as high as second during the first 25-lap segment. Even though he got shuffled outside the top-10 in three-wide action on Lap 19, he rebounded to hold down the fifth position when the first portion of the race came to a conclusion.
Busch had acknowledged that his Dodge's handling was to his liking during the first segment, saying on his team radio on Lap 23, "We're on the loose side, but it's handling really well and we can turn it about anywhere on the track."
During the 10-minute break in between segments, Busch's Pat Tryson-led team attempted to better the handling conditions with air pressure, wedge and camber adjustments.
Carl Edwards was the leader for the start of the final 50-lap segment of the race. Jamie McMurray was second, with Jimmie Johnson third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Busch fifth. There were 24 of the original 28 starters remaining on the lead lap, with Kevin Harvick the last driver completing all the laps at that point.
Busch's handling wasn't as good the remainder of the race and he had to fight back from loose lug nut problems that occurred during two separate pit stops. When Penske Racing teammate David Stremme and Greg Biffle tangled in Turn 4 on Lap 74, it set up the green-white-checkered run to the finish.
There were 15 drivers remaining on the lead lap when the race returned to green-flag conditions. McMurray was again the leader, with Jeff Gordon second, Johnson third, Harvick all the way up to fourth and Kyle Busch fifth. Denny Hamlin, Kahne, A.J. Almendinger, Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10 drivers.
The crashing was not over, however. On the final lap, Harvick squeezed between Johnson and Hamlin for the second spot before Casey Mears appeared to trigger a multi-car incident taking out Johnson and Hamlin. The caution came out just as Harvick took the lead from McMurray.
NASCAR rules "froze" the field at that moment, awarding the win to Harvick and placing McMurray in second. Tony Stewart finished third, with Gordon fourth and Almendinger fifth. Kahne, Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch rounded out the night's top-10 finishers.
Vickers, Paul Menard and Hamlin completed the 13 drivers finishing on the lead lap and the only competitors still running at the finish.
"I think we learned quite a bit here tonight that we can use in preparing for next weekend's (Daytona) 500," Busch said. "We need the car a little loose like that so our Miller Lite Dodge will turn well. But, there's a balance there we need to hit on with our chassis. With the practice we'll get and Thursday's qualifying race ahead, we're confident we can hit that target.
"With the way our Penske cars were running in two-lap mock qualifying runs here today, we're certainly not expecting too much here (Sunday) during the qualifying session," Busch added. "We're already looking to starting from pretty far back in the pack in our qualifying race on Thursday. Just as it's been the last several years down here, we're not among the fastest in qualifying, but we're always super-strong in the races."
Sunday's 1:15 p.m. EST qualifying session for next Sunday's Daytona 500 is the next activity on the schedule at Daytona International Speedway. Only the Coors Light Pole position and the second-place starter will be locked in the starting field Sunday as the remainder of the 43-car grid will be determined in Thursday's twin Gatorade 150-mile (60-lap) qualifying races.