KURT BUSCH NOT THROWING IN THE TOWEL JUST YET: FOUR RACES TO GO -Miller Lite Dodge Driver Proud Of His First-Year Team; Looks To Continue Showing Progress At M.I.S.- BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch ...
KURT BUSCH NOT THROWING IN THE TOWEL JUST YET: FOUR RACES TO GO
-Miller Lite Dodge Driver Proud Of His First-Year Team; Looks To Continue Showing Progress At M.I.S.-
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2006) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was denied making NASCAR history on Sunday at Watkins Glen, N.Y., when a dominant performance was derailed by a controversial ruling on Lap 54 of the 90-lap road-racing finale for 2006.
After claiming the top starting spot on Friday for Sunday's race, Busch won the pole and the race here in Saturday's NBS Zippo 200. While there had been several drivers to win both races during a single weekend, never had there been a driver to win both poles and both races.
Busch started from the pole on Sunday and proved he had the car to beat. He had his Miller Lite Dodge up front for 38 laps and was leading after Lap 53 when his opportunity to make his mark in the history books was spoiled.
While making his final scheduled pit stop under the green working Lap 54, Busch veered to the right and turned down the pit lane. Just as he made his move, the caution flag came out for a Joe Nemechek spin entering the carousel turn. NASCAR officials ruled that Busch had not made it to the commitment line before the flag was displayed and the team was notified that they would have to restart at the tail end of the longest line.
Busch's promising day unraveled from there.
After being sent to the rear of the field on the following restart and surviving a multi-car crash to make it back up to 11th on the final lap, his major comeback was not to be. Getting caught up in a multi-car incident involving Penske teammate Ryan Newman, Boris Said and Ron Fellows in the inner-loop on the final lap, Busch was eventually credited with a 19th-place finish.
The end result sees Busch 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points standings and 172 behind 10th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. with four races remaining to determine the competitors in this year's "Chase for the Championship." Only the top 10 drivers in the point standings after the conclusion of the Sept. 9 race at Richmond, Va., will be competing for the 2006 title that will be decided in the final 10 races of the year.
"What's behind us is history and it's really no good to dwell on what might have been," Busch said on Tuesday, as he reflected on the past weekend. "We had a shot to make history there on Sunday, but it was not to be. To tell you the truth, they didn't even tell me about all of that going into the race.
"The big thing is that we had an incredible weekend going there at the Glen, with the two poles and the win on Saturday," Busch continued. "We never stop and rest on our laurels because our expectations are so high, but I have to sometimes stop and realize that ours is truly a first-year team.
"Instead of looking back, now we're looking forward to going back to Michigan this weekend," said Busch. "Like I've said before, this year's second half really begins at Michigan, especially for a first-year team looking to go back to the same tracks a second time around.
"The big thing about it is that there's only four races left to draw from past experience and put together a solid run toward making the Chase," said Busch. "Michigan, Bristol, California and Richmond make up the stretch run. We'll give it our best in the effort to make the Chase, but it has been a pretty successful season for our first-year team regardless."
"Kurt and our team will never throw in the towel," crew chief Roy McCauley offered. "We'll be out there doing everything we can to make the Chase, but it won't be the end of the world if we don't.
"Heading back to Michigan this week, we've seen steady progress on the intermediate tracks -- the mile-and-a-half to two-mile ovals," McCauley continued. "If we had an area that really needed working on during the first half of the season, it had to be on that type of race track.
"But, we finished ninth at Michigan back in June and we were eighth at Chicago last month, so we're making headway there. We look to continue that progress at Michigan this weekend."
While Busch, McCauley and the Miller Lite Team used their PRS-083 Dodge Charger in the June Michigan race, they have opted to bring a different car back this time around.
"We'll be racing the (PRS-0) 86 car this weekend," McCauley said. "We've never raced it, but we did test it at Nashville back in January. It's been re-bodied and fluffed and buffed many times since then.
"We'll be taking our best stuff there, just like we did at Indy. We're constantly trying to improve our entire program each and every day. We're definitely not sitting on our hands and being idle. We're dedicated to making our equipment better and better and determined to bring more competitive cars back to the track each and every week."
Busch's career track record on the 2.0-mile Michigan track sports one win, one top-five finish and five top-10 finishes in 11 races. He started 17th and finished seventh in last year's August race at M.I.S. He competed in one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at M.I.S., starting fourth and finishing second in the July 2000 race.