Busch Labels 2007 'Successful Transitional Season' MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 27, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch won two races in 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition and finished seventh in the series point standings. That was enough...
Busch Labels 2007 'Successful Transitional Season'
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 27, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch won two races in 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition and finished seventh in the series point standings. That was enough for the 2004 champion and driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge to label the year as a "successful transitional season."
"With wins, a pole and a seventh-place finish in the points, we definitely covered all the basics to say that 2007 was a great year for our Miller Lite Dodge team," said Busch, the 29-year-old Las Vegas native who completed his second season driving for legendary car owner Roger Penske. "When you look back on the year and take into consideration that we accomplished all that we did with three different crew chiefs, you certainly have to label it a successful transitional season for our team.
"Roy McCauley and Troy Raker definitely deserve so much credit for their contributions during the year, especially considering the adverse and unusual circumstances they were working under. When we were able to add Pat Tryson as our team leader back in June, it gave us the solid and consistent leadership that our team needed to overcome the obstacles and make the big drive to get into the Chase."
Tryson, a 43-year-old Malvern, Pa., native, led Mark Martin to Chase-eligibility in three consecutive seasons -- 2004-06. The veteran crew chief is now four-for-four in making NASCAR's playoffs.
"Pat definitely brought the spark that our team needed and it was evident for the rest of the season," said Busch, who now possesses 17 career NASCAR Cup victories. "Pat's leadership abilities and his knowledge of race cars were evident almost immediately and our team continued to get stronger and stronger throughout the remainder of the season.
"That's the big reason for referring to 2007 as a transitional season as we advanced to the point we are now, with a championship-caliber team under leadership from a championship-caliber crew chief. "We know that we have an unbelievable challenge in front of us in continuing our level of performance with the COT now the standard in all the races. The competition will be even stronger next year, but I am confident that our Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team will be able to come out ready for the challenge in 2008."
Along Busch's route to posting two victories, a pole, six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes, he also was able to accumulate 130 bonus points, tying him with champion Jimmie Johnson for second and trailing only Jeff Gordon  in bonus points earned during the season.
"That indicates a couple of things," Busch said. "It shows that our team had unbelievable strength and potential. It shows that we were a threat in so many races and had a super competitive level. But, on the other hand, it also demonstrates what I'd have to consider as lost opportunity.
"When you look at it that we were in the same league as the series' champion in leading laps, that's quite impressive."
Busch led in 21 races for 887 laps.
"When you consider that we led the most laps in five races to the 48 car's [Johnson] two races, you have to scratch your head and ask why. Those guys definitely must have led all the right laps. Seriously, it shows that we were strong at the start of a lot of races and faded. It shows that we had a lot of great runs that were cut short by many problems, a lot of our own doing with mistakes made on pit road."
Busch, Tryson and crew visited victory lane twice during the 2007 season, taking wins in the Aug. 5 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono and the Aug. 21 3M Performance 400 at Michigan. Busch says the wins were not only satisfying, but held historical significance.
"The two wins we scored this season were special and victories we'll always treasure," said Busch. "Pat came aboard as our leader in late June and the car we won at Pocono with was the first Dodge that he massaged and nurtured to the track. We dominated there in that race, leading a record number of laps for the Pocono track. It was our first win together as driver and crew chief and it had to be another record set for the amount of beer and champagne used in a victory celebration. We named the winning car the 'PT Special' in honor of Pat and the great job he had done.
"The win at Michigan is one we'll always remember. It rained so much and for so long there that we didn't race until Tuesday. The car we had there was brand new and the final old-style car to come through the shop. Pat had worked his magic on it like he did with the Pocono winning car. What made the Michigan win so special was that Roger (Penske, team owner) was there and was able to celebrate the win with us. He couldn't be at Bristol for the win last year and had to miss the earlier win at Pocono. It was so cool to have him there celebrating with us in victory lane. Roger had owned the Michigan track and was responsible for building it up to the super facility it is today. The race was the final one for the old-style cars there and it came in the backyard of all the auto manufacturers. It was very appropriate that we named that car 'Roger' in honor of 'The Captain.' I still can't believe there were that many fans there for a Tuesday race."
Busch offered some examples of success this season that added to his feeling of overall accomplishment.
"As if our charge back to make the Chase wasn't impressive enough, the fact is that we climbed all the way back to 10th in the point standings after 26 races," Busch said. "We would have made the Chase even if it had still been just the top-10 and not the expanded top-12 format. That was extremely gratifying.
"When you look at how much ground we made up in the final race of the season at Homestead that was pretty incredible. We came in there in 10th, with only a little cushion over 11th. With our great run and finish there, we shot all the way up to seventh in the final point standings and it certainly was a tremendous way to close out the year."