Despite 23rd-Place Finish, Busch Has Strong Run in Vegas Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch saw his chance for a win in Sunday's Shelby 427 evaporate when he dropped a cylinder after 105 of the 285 laps. After limping on home to the 23rd ...
Despite 23rd-Place Finish, Busch Has Strong Run in Vegas
Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch saw his chance for a win in Sunday's Shelby 427 evaporate when he dropped a cylinder after 105 of the 285 laps. After limping on home to the 23rd finishing spot, he made a mad dash to Victory Lane to congratulate his younger brother, Kyle, who amazingly had driven from the rear of the pack to win Sunday's battle.
"It's a special win at a very special place for our family," Kurt Busch said to a local TV crew after giving his brother a celebratory hug by the winning race car. "I've always dreamed about finally winning a race here and thought we had a good shot today. We had a car strong enough to win at the beginning of the race, but you have to be there at the end. Kyle drove a great race and saved the best for last. I wanted to let him know how proud of him that I am."
The Busch Brothers qualified for the front row starting spots here on Friday. But due to an engine change on Kyle's Toyota, he had to drop to the rear at the start of today's race.
Kurt Busch proved to have a strong Miller Lite Dodge Charger during the first third of the race. A fixture among the top-five competitors, he got into a three-man tussle for second with Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon for several laps after a Lap 99 restart.
"It feels like we're blowing up," he said over the team radio as his car lost power and started falling back through the field. "I guess we just raced too hard up there with those guys."
Although Busch was running on only seven cylinders, he managed to stay on the lead lap until Lap 211. Great strategy by crew chief Pat Tryson saw the "blue deuce" stay out during the ninth caution period of the race and officially lead Lap 166 to pick up the five bonus points for leading a lap. The team then pitted for service and rejoined the field at the back of the lead pack.
"We'll take it for being on seven cylinders most of the race," Busch said after returning to his team's transporter. "We like the car that we had in California and the Miller Lite Dodge felt great running up front again today here in Las Vegas. I felt like I had a car capable of winning the race. We just ran into a tough break that didn't allow us to run the entire race on full power. We found a weak link today, but we'll put our heads together and fix it and try to push as hard as we can next week in Atlanta."
"We had a good day. We had a good handling car," Tryson said. "We just broke something in the valve train and it is what it is today. We managed to make the most out of what we could running on only seven cylinders considering some guys finished a lot worse than we did being in the same situation as us. We didn't take too big of a hit in points, so we'll head to Atlanta and keep on doing what we're doing in trying to give Kurt (Busch) the best car we can."
Kyle Busch patiently moved up through the field during the race that was slowed by a record 14 caution periods. He had the lead on Lap 259, when the 12th caution flag of the race flew, this one for debris on the backstretch. After falling to third on the Lap 263 restart, he passed Jeff Burton for second and cleared Clint Bowyer for the lead on Lap 269. Two additional caution flags bunched the field up, but the younger Busch Brother would not be denied the win.
Sam Hornish Jr. was the highest-finishing driver out of the Penske Racing camp, coming home 16th and completing all 285 laps. David Stremme finished 18th, the top finisher running one lap down at the checkered flag.
Matt Kenseth had won the first two races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and held a nice lead in the standings entering Las Vegas. But a blown engine in the early laps relegated Kenseth to a 43rd-place finish here today and drop him to third in the points (with 419). After three races have now been placed in the record books, Gordon is the points leader with 459. Bowyer is second with 442, Kenseth third, Biffle fourth with 419 and Reutimann fifth with 408. Kyle Busch moved up 12 spots with today's win and has 405 points, 12 more than brother Kurt (seventh with 393 points). Tony Stewart is eighth (379), Carl Edwards ninth (377) and Labonte 10th (360).
Stremme holds down the 23rd spot with 302 points, while Hornish is 28th with 276 points.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads on to Atlanta Motor Speedway for next weekend's 325-lap, 500.5-mile high-speed battle.