MUCH ON THE LINE FOR BUSCH IN HOMESTEAD 2007 FINALE HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2007) -- There is much on the line for Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team in this weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "It's...
MUCH ON THE LINE FOR BUSCH IN HOMESTEAD 2007 FINALE
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2007) -- There is much on the line for Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team in this weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"It's the final race for the old-style cars and certainly every team wants to have being the final winners on their resumes," said Busch, who won the 2002 Homestead season finale and posted a dramatic fifth-place finish in the 2004 race to claim the NASCAR title in the first year of the current Chase format. "We feel like we are bringing our best car down to Homestead, hoping to achieve that distinction in racing history.
"The championship picture is pretty clear in that Jimmie (Johnson, points leader) should be able to coast on through to his second championship."
Busch claimed the 2004 championship by eight points over Johnson.
"He'll have to have major problems to squander that 86-point lead that he has over (Jeff) Gordon," said Busch, who is 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings with 6,056 points. "But, there certainly is a tight battle going on from about sixth-place on back and that could be very interesting. All the Chase drivers want to finish at least in the top 10 in the points.
"The way they have it this year is that there are 12 drivers in the Chase, but only the top 10 get to drive their show cars around Manhattan and take to the stage at the NASCAR Awards Banquet. It's a case of team pride and wanting to be able to do all you can for your sponsors. To tell you the truth, as hard as all the teams work toward making the Chase, it's kind of sad that two teams get left out like that. I really don't understand that, but I guess you just have to accept it and go on.
"Regardless of the outcome, our Miller Lite Dodge Team is proud of our accomplishments this season. We entered the year with the major goals of winning races and making the Chase and we accomplished that. With the COT cars being the standard at all races in 2008, we know that we'll have a very challenging year ahead."
With only Sunday's Ford 400 remaining, Busch prefers to look ahead rather than over his shoulder when it comes to the point standings.
"Matt (Kenseth) has put a string of strong finishes together and he's climbed to sixth, but the fact is that he's only 47 points in front of us," Busch said. "There are five guys right there within that narrow margin and several spots can change at Homestead on Sunday."
In addition to trailing the sixth-place Kenseth by 47 points, Busch is only 37 points behind seventh-place Kevin Harvick, 33 points in arrears of eighth-place Jeff Burton, and 11 points behind ninth-place Carl Edwards.
"I know that all the focus will be on points and I understand that, but we're coming in there really wanting to win this race," Tryson said. "There's nothing we'd like more than to see our Miller Lite Dodge in the Ford 400 victory lane.
"It'll certainly be a big piece of history that'll go down there on Sunday. It'll be NASCAR's way of officially putting the old horse out to pasture and preparing to usher in the new era when we get back down to Daytona for February's Speedweeks.
"There's certainly some sentimental value that a win this weekend would bring to our team, that's for sure. We're racing our (PSC-) 111 car, the one we first raced at Michigan and won with in that rain-delayed race back in August. It was at the track that Roger Penske once owned and helped build it up to what it is today, right there in the backyard of all the auto manufacturers. It was Kurt's first win and mine, too, where Roger was there and we were able to celebrate it together in victory lane.
"It was very fitting that we named this car 'Roger' after winning that race. With the history behind the car already, I'd just about guarantee you that it's destined to wind up in a museum or showroom somewhere. Just think how cool it would be if we could win another race with it in the final time we'll ever race these cars. That'd be really sweet, man. I assure you that if we can pull it off, there'll be so much champagne and Miller Lite used in celebrating the win on Sunday that there may be a big shortage of both in Florida come next Monday."
This weekend's schedule at Homestead-Miami Speedway calls for practice on Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. The single round of qualifying on Friday at 3:10 p.m. will allocate all 43 starting positions for Sunday's battle around the 1.5-mile layout. Saturday's schedule features practice from 11-11:50 a.m., with the final "Happy Hour" session scheduled from 2:50-3:50 p.m. Sunday's Ford 400 [267 laps, 400.5 miles] is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. EST. The race features live coverage on ABC and MRN Radio.