Pocono II: Kurt Busch race report

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 5, 2007) -- Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team posted a dominant victory at Pocono Raceway in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 and climbed to 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, moving them into ...

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 5, 2007) -- Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge team posted a dominant victory at Pocono Raceway in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 and climbed to 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, moving them into Chase-eligible status with five races remaining to decide the players in the 2007 title run.

"It was a great team win and I am so proud to be driving the Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing," said Busch, who led 175 of the 200 laps to establish a record for laps led in races at Pocono. "I'm proud of all my guys; all the guys back in the shop who help prepare these cars, all the guys over on the engine side, who continue to give us that great Penske-Jasper horsepower. and all my immediate team members who give it their all here at the race track every week.

"I am so pleased and proud of the unbelievable job Pat Tryson has done coming in here and leading our team. Pat is due much of the credit for our strong performance here today. We're really hitting our stride and it's coming at the right time."

Busch now possesses the 12th position in the driver standings, leading the 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. by seven points -- 2,399 to 2,392.

"Roy McCauley and Troy Raker deserve tremendous credit for their contributions to our team this year and it's so neat to still have them working and nurturing our team along," said Busch, who claimed Sunday's win, the 16th of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career, by 4.131 seconds over runner-up Earnhardt Jr. and broke a 51-race winless streak. "We have a great team behind us and we think this is just the beginning of much future success.

"I can honestly say that when the green flag dropped and we flew off into turn 1 and made the outside move work around the (No.) 8 car (Earnhardt Jr.) to get the lead, I did say to myself, 'Man we really have something for them here today.'"

Busch certainly did have the strongest car throughout the race, losing the lead only during green-flag pit stop segments and after a slow pit stop on lap 139 under the race's fifth yellow-flag.

"We had a little hiccup there on changing the rear tire and it got us a little behind," said Tryson, who was in his sixth race as the team's crew chief. "The stops were superb until then and Kurt kept his cool when we got behind. We went from leading, all the way back to eighth on the restart, but it didn't get him rattled. He knew that he had the best car out there.

"To tell you the truth, he made exciting moves, particularly over there in the tunnel turn, that were amazing. We had some of the TV guys telling us after the race that he made some impossible passes out there in playing catch-up. I certainly have the utmost confidence in Kurt's abilities, but I even have to admit that I don't know if I've ever seen anybody pass that many cars running through (turns) two and three here in that little number of laps. It was incredible with what he was able to do behind the wheel of our Miller Lite Dodge."

Busch grabbed the lead from pole-winner Earnhardt Jr. on the first lap and built a 3.9-second lead over second-place teammate Ryan Newman when the first round of green-flag pit stops unfolded. He had a 12.1-second lead on Newman when the second of seven yellow flags fell on lap 54 for debris.

Busch continued to hold down the point through another two rounds of green-flag stops, with the team making minor air pressure and wedge adjustments to counter the track becoming tighter.

At the halfway point in the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped track, Busch possessed a 4.2-second advantage over Denny Hamlin, who won both Pocono races last year.

Earnhardt Jr. spun in turn 3 on lap 123 to bring out the fourth caution period. He then changed a shock absorber under the yellow and staged an impressive charge back to the front.

Busch fell behind on lap 139 during a 14.582-second pit stop under the fifth yellow. Restarting eighth on the lap 143 return to green, Busch drove to the inside, outside and went three wide in turn 2 on lap 144 to advance back up to fourth. He picked off Matt Kenseth for third on lap 145 and got around Reed Sorenson for second on lap 146.

Busch chased down Earnhardt Jr. and made the pass in turn 3 on lap 153 to regain the lead. Even with a couple of more caution periods standing in the way, Busch would not be denied the win. At the finish, Busch was celebrating his win by 4.131 seconds over Earnhardt Jr.

With five races remaining to determine the Chase competitors, Busch owns the 12th spot and trails 11th-place Martin Truex Jr. by 38 points.

"We're trying to only look ahead and not behind," Busch said. "We have some really good tracks coming up and we hopefully, can continue to climb on up the points ladder."

Busch will have "double-duty" next weekend at Watkins Glen, N.Y., competing in both Saturday's NBS race and Sunday's Cup event. Busch is the defending champion for Saturday's race and looks to be a strong contender for the win again on Sunday. ESPN and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of both races.

-credit: pr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Martin Truex Jr. , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson
Teams Team Penske