RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 4, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Penske Racing team know what has gotten them this far in their quest to make the 2007 "Chase for the Championship", and you can expect more of the same in...
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 4, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Penske Racing team know what has gotten them this far in their quest to make the 2007 "Chase for the Championship", and you can expect more of the same in Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway, the final event before the title battle begins.
"We just have to stay focused and keep on doing what we've been doing," said Busch, who possesses the 11th position in the standings entering Richmond, enjoying a 13-point lead over 12th-place Kevin Harvick and a 141-point advantage over 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. "While we know all the attention will be on what's going on behind us, as far as the points go, we still hope to gain a few spots up the ladder at Richmond.
"It doesn't really mean anything big-picture-wise, because when you make the cut the clock goes back to zero for the top 12 teams, but we still prefer to focus on trying to catch the guys right in front of us. We're only 20 points out of 10th and 25 out of ninth right now and it would make our strong run over the last two months even more impressive if we can gain some more spots."
Busch will earn a spot in this year's title battle by finishing 36th or better in Saturday's race. He enters Richmond with 3,022 points, while ninth-place Clint Bowyer has 3,047 and 10th-place Martin Truex Jr. possesses 3,042. Harvick has 3,009 points and Earnhardt Jr. 2,881.
"I don't mean to sound like a politician, but our plan is to stay the course," said crew chief Tryson, who has been responsible for engineering the amazing comeback by Busch and the No. 2 Dodge team over the last eight races. "Our strategy will remain the same as it has been. We'll come in there hoping to win and if we don't have a car that's capable, we'll just be looking to get all we can out of the night."
That strategy certainly has paid off for Busch, Tryson and the Miller Lite Dodge team. With Tryson leading and coaching his driver and crew, their efforts have accounted for two wins, three top-five finishes and six top-10s in the last eight races. Since the July 1 race at New Hampshire, the team has finished no worse than 11th and has a 6.0 average finish during the period. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the Tryson-led team has battled back from a 236-point deficit to Chase eligibility to the 141-point buffer they have entering this weekend.
"It's going to be an interesting race in Richmond, but for us we feel like our short-track program is where it needs to be right now," Busch said. "We finished fifth there in the spring race and our COT program has made monumental gains since then. So, we're coming in there with a lot of confidence and hoping to be a contender to win the race."
Busch's career NEXTEL Cup record at Richmond sports one win, two top-five and three top-10 finishes in 13 career starts. He has a 21.0 average start and an 18.8 average finish on the 0.75-mile banked oval.
Busch, Tryson and the Miller Lite crew will unveil their PSC-520 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger at Richmond this weekend.
"It was a brand-new car that we had in the trailer as a backup at New Hampshire in July," Tryson explained. "The first time it ever got on a race track was last Tuesday [Aug. 28], when we tested it at Memphis [the 0.75-mile Memphis Motorsports Park]. We had a very good test there with the car and think it can get the job done for us this weekend at Richmond."