Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth in Samsung 500 at Texas FORT WORTH, Texas -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch continued showing his team's intermediate track prowess in today's Samsung 500 here at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing eighth and ...
Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth in Samsung 500 at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch continued showing his team's intermediate track prowess in today's Samsung 500 here at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing eighth and maintaining his third position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points.
"It was a really good run for the Miller Lite Dodge," said Busch, who started 28th here today and enjoyed another total-team-effort that led to his fourth top-10 finish in the seven races completed this season. "We worked on it (the car) and made small adjustments throughout the day.
"We felt like we couldn't run with the big dogs today, but could have a good points day," said Busch, who picked up his eighth top-10 finish in I3 races here at TMS. "That's exactly what we needed. I felt that our car was better on the long runs. The short green runs; that wasn't good for us. We needed to be out there as long as we could and stretch it out. The green-flag pit stops helped us move our way forward."
Busch started 28th here this afternoon, but when the green flag dropped, the Miller Lite Dodge was one of the cars on the move. He had cracked the top 20 at Lap 14 and was up to 18th only 15 laps into the race. When the race continued green and the first round of pit stops occurred without a yellow, Busch had climbed to 13th.
Even though he was fighting a loose handling condition, Busch continued his forward progress, passing Dale Earnhardt Jr. for 12th on Lap 74, getting around Kasey Kahne for 11th on Lap 78 and blowing by his brother, Kyle, to move into the top 10 on Lap 86.
The first caution of the race didn't come until Lap 96, when NASCAR officials spotted debris on the backstretch. After a trip to pit road for service, Busch returned to the track and lined up 14th for the Lap 102 restart. He drove in the same form that led to his 2004 series championship during the middle third of the 334-lap race, exercising patience when necessary and showing aggression at just the right moment.
Once he cleared Paul Menard to return to the top 10 on Lap 121, Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Penske Racing "blue deuce" team were determined to get all they could out of the afternoon. The team stayed out under a long stretch of green to lead a lap on Lap 155 to pick up the five bonus points. The very next lap, Tryson called Busch to pit road for four tires and fuel, opting for air pressure adjustments. The next lap, Elliott Sadler spun to bring out the second yellow flag of the race. Since all the leaders had now pitted, the sequencing elevated Busch all the way up to fifth for the Lap 160 restart.
Busch fell back only as far as 10th during the remainder of the race, even though faced with non-ideal handling conditions and enduring a vibration that was diagnosed as a slightly loose left-rear wheel.
Penske Racing teammate David Stremme's spin in Turn 4 on Lap 303 brought out the final caution flag of the race. Busch, Tryson and crew went with four tires, fuel and track bar and air pressure adjustments and were eighth in the running order on the restart with 26 laps remaining in the race.
During the final circuits, Juan Montoya was able to pass Busch for a position, but Busch was able to clear Jeff Burton with four laps to go to regain the eighth spot and hold it till the end.
At the finish line, it was Jeff Gordon taking a popular win by 0.378 seconds over runner-up Jimmie Johnson. The win ended a 47-race winless streak. His first victory at this track (and 82nd overall) did not come until today during his 17th race on this track. Homestead-Miami Speedway is the lone track remaining on the schedule where Gordon has not won. Greg Biffle was third, with Tony Stewart fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth. Mark Martin was sixth, with Montoya seventh, Busch eighth, Burton ninth and Carl Edwards 10th. Stremme went on to finish 14th, while Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. came home 17th.
"It was a good day for our Miller Lite Dodge team," Tryson said back in the garage as the team began loading their car onto the transporter. "We weren't quite as good as we wanted to be, but we'll take it and be pretty satisfied heading into the off weekend next week. We were really good on long runs, but didn't have enough short-run speed. All in all, it was a good day for the Miller Lite Dodge.
"If we keep getting these top 10s, we'll put ourselves in good position for the Chase," said Tryson. "We'll just keep working on our stuff to make it better so when we get in the Chase, we have something to work with. Our mile-and-half program is pretty good right now, but we need to get it a little better still. We need to get it all a little better. We'll keep working real hard, go do some testing and see if we can't go catch those guys up front."
Busch's performance here today kept him third in the Sprint Cup point standings, even with a little shuffling among the names up front. Gordon's win increased his lead to 162 points over second, the spot now held by Johnson (1,154 points to 992), who entered the race fourth in the standings. Busch is third with 974 points, trailing Gordon by 180. Clint Bowyer fell to fourth (967), with Tony Stewart fifth (963).
After a much-deserved weekend off next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action the following weekend at the "Desert Mile," Phoenix International Raceway.