Kurt Busch and Miller Lite Team Finish 20th At Dover Handling problems from the drop of the green flag, plus a broken dry-break connection in the fueling system, worked to relegate Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch to a 20th-place finish ...
Kurt Busch and Miller Lite Team Finish 20th At Dover
Handling problems from the drop of the green flag, plus a broken dry-break connection in the fueling system, worked to relegate Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch to a 20th-place finish in today's Best Buy 400 here at Dover International Speedway. But surprisingly, with several of the top drivers in the point standings having a disastrous race here today, Busch was able to make a 33-point dent in his deficit to 12th-place Kasey Kahne.
"We were so loose at the beginning of the race that I was about to crash it every lap," Busch said. "The front of the car was pushing and the rear was loose. We went down six rounds on the track bar and it was still one of the most wicked-handling cars I've driven in my career.
"We were still hanging on the lead lap until we had to pit under green and the dry-break in the fuel system had broken," Busch continued. "We went from running top-15 and on the lead lap to running laps down and just trying to hang on and finish. We tried to stay out longer than the leaders, hoping to get a caution and make up some ground, but the yellows never came when we needed them."
Busch started today's race from the outside pole, but he knew he had his hands full even in the early going. He had fallen to fourth on Lap 17 when a multi-car crash, triggered by contact from David Gilliland saw Elliott Sadler slam the outside wall exiting Turn 2 and veer back in front of oncoming traffic. Some 13 cars got caught up in the ensuing melee, including several of the top-12 points drivers such as Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.
NASCAR officials were forced to red-flag the race for 16 minutes to clean up all the debris and fluids. What was initially supposed to be a Lap 30 "competition yellow" was moved up to follow immediately after the race returned from red to yellow and the leaders pitted on Lap 23.
Different pit strategies saw pole-sitter Greg Biffle lead on the Lap 26 restart, with Kyle Busch second, Kurt third (taking on right-side tires only), Ryan Newman fourth and Travis Kvapil fifth.
The Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite crew made several chassis changes, including wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustments during the second pit stop under yellow on Lap 68. Another quick yellow saw no takers among the leaders on pit road and the top 10 remained the same for the Lap 78 restart.
Busch restarted third, but with the "front end pushing and the rear end loose," he began to fall back through the field. He had fallen to 14th in the running order when the first round or green-flag stops began on Lap 147.
The No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge team hit pit road on Lap 149 for four tires, fuel and a six-round adjustment on the track bar. Unfortunately, the dry-break fueling system was not working appropriately and the team was forced to open the rear deck lid and operate the system manually. The end result was a 31.464-second pit stop that saw Busch drop from running 14th and in the lead lap to the 23rd position, running a lap down to then leader Biffle.
Busch would spend the remainder of the race continuously fighting an ill-handling race car and stretching his fuel during the ensuing three series of green-flag stops trying to catch a caution and close up the gap to the leaders. The team never got the breaks they needed to make up many spots.
"I'm not one for making excuses and we missed the setup here today," said crew chief Tryson. "But the fact was that we knew we were too tight when the rain came here yesterday and cut the final practice down to a very few laps. We had to take a guess at what to do to get the car loosened up and we certainly went way too far in that direction. With the 12 team also having problems with their dry-break system, I guarantee you there's a full-court press going on back at the shop this week to make sure that don't happen again. That problem cost us about two laps and we could have probably finished in the top-15 otherwise."
After 13 races have been logged into the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup record book, Kyle Busch has 2,050 points and leads the standings by 142 over second-place Jeff Burton. On the other end of the top-12, in the battle for "Chase eligibility status," Stewart is 11th with 1,551 points and Kahne is 12th with 1,524 points.
Kurt remained in the 21st position and has 1,295 points. He entered Dover trailing 12th-place Kahne by 262 points and after today's race he has narrowed the deficit to 229 points. There are 13 races remaining to see who makes the top 12 and competes for this year's "Chase for the NASCAR Championship."