Kurt Busch Finishes 10th in Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 9, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch drove from a 10th-place start to a 10th-place finish in tonight’s Samsung Mobile 500 here at Texas Motor Speedway. It was a hard-fought battle that saw the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ lead five times for a total of 50 laps, yet fall a position in the point standings to fifth when the dust had settled.
"Just a hard-fought battle all night,” Busch said of his 11th top-10 finish in 17 starts here on this challenging 1.5-mile track. “We qualified 10th, finished 10th. We led laps when we were off-sequence, but overall a hard fought battle to get the car dialed-in once again. We struggle to make adjustments as we go. We got something towards the end to make something of it. Overall, we got off-sequence which might have helped preserve that top 10. It's tough. We want to compete for top fives and wins and we're only getting top 10s right now."
Busch started tonight’s battle in the 10th spot. He was up to seventh on Lap 9 when the first caution flag flew. His Steve Addington-led team opted to stay out for the track position and assumed the lead on Lap 11. He led on the Lap 15 restart and yielded the point to teammate Brad Keselowski in the Miller Lite Dodge.
Matt Kenseth was the man on the move and had worked his way into the lead on the Lap 52 restart after the second yellow flag had flown. Kenseth would go on to lead nine times for a race high 169 of the 334 laps. His dominance was only interrupted by several instances when teams running out of sequence in their pitting schedule took the front-running positions.
With only five cautions for a total of 24 laps, it was an incredible challenge just to stay on the lead lap. Busch caught a great break on Lap 208 when Kenseth was breathing down his neck and threatening to put him a lap down when the fourth caution flag flew. It was during that yellow flag period that Busch and a few other drivers hit pit road again and got off sequence with the leaders in their scheduled pitting. Only one additional caution flew during the remaining 120 laps.
We want to compete for top fives and wins and we're only getting top 10s right now.
Kenseth pitted for the final time on Lap 295 and others followed. Busch inherited the lead on lap 297 and held it until he pitted for two tires and fuel on Lap 321. Tony Stewart was on the same pitting sequence as Busch and his team decided to try to stretch their fuel and go the distance.
When Busch hit pit road, Kenseth regained the lead for good and had an 8.321-second lead over second-place Clint Bowyer. With no additional cautions to slow the field, Kenseth cruised to an 8.315-second victory over runner-up Bowyer and end a 76-race winless streak. Kenseth’s Ford-driving teammate Carl Edwards finished third with their teammate Greg Biffle fourth and Paul Menard fifth. Marcos Ambrose (Ford) was sixth, with David Ragan (Ford) seventh, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Busch rounding out tonight’s top-10 finishers. Jeff Burton finished 11th, while Stewart’s attempt to go the distance on fuel came up one lap short and he fell to a 12th-place finish.
"A little rough tonight,” crew chief Addington offered after the race. “I didn't think we would be that much off to start the race. It seemed like when we adjusted on the car, we would get different results. It's a bit of a mystery. We had to use some different strategy and we really shouldn't have to do that. We should be up front challenging for wins. We just need to get a handle on this thing right now. I'm proud of everyone on this team who worked so hard on the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. We did what we had to do to manufacturer a top-10 finish."
After seven races have been placed into the 2011 record book, it’s Edwards with the points lead with 256 points. Kyle Busch is second with 247, with Kenseth up to third (243 points), Johnson fourth (also 243 points) and Kurt Busch fifth (240 points). Earnhardt (235) is sixth, followed by Ryan Newman (233), Juan Pablo Montoya (232), Kevin Harvick (228) and Stewart (213) rounding out the top 10.
Penske Racing teammate Keselowski finished 18th here tonight and advanced back up to 22nd in the standings with 159 points.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the second restrictor-plate battle of the 2011 season.
-source: penske racing