Busch Finishes Seventh in 'Heluva Good' Battle at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 10, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch led early in today's weather-delayed 'Heluva Good' at the Glen, but fuel mileage forced an extra visit to pit...
Busch Finishes Seventh in 'Heluva Good' Battle at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 10, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch led early in today's weather-delayed 'Heluva Good' at the Glen, but fuel mileage forced an extra visit to pit road and he had to rally to finish seventh. Monday's performance produced Busch's best career Cup finish here on the Watkins Glen International road course and helped solidify his team's bid to make this season's "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship."
"We had a great Miller Lite Dodge here today, but we got bitten badly by our fuel mileage," a disappointed Busch said. "We led the race from the beginning until we pitted and looked to have a car plenty capable of winning the race. But when the strategies started playing out, we had to make an extra stop in order to stay there in the fuel window.
"We fell back to about 15th or so with about 25 laps to go and made the best run that we could down to the wire," said Busch. "It's great to finish up there solidly in the top-10 here today, but to have a car as strong as ours was today leaves me really wanting more and feeling that we left so much out there on the table."
Busch's seventh-place finish here today ranks as his best Sprint Cup tally at the Glen to date after eight prior starts (10th-place finishes in 2004 and last year were the best entering today's race). In the team's quest to make the 2009 Chase, Busch now holds a 275-point advantage over 13th-place Kyle Busch. He remains fourth in the standings and cut his deficit to third-place Jeff Gordon (involved in a horrendous crash with Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr.) from 228 points to 139.
"Kurt drove his tail end off out there today and he deserved better," said crew chief Pat Tryson. "We really need to get our fuel mileage and horsepower ratio better. I'm certainly not blaming our guys because I know they're working as hard as they can. It just seemed like some of the guys could go all out all day long and not worry about fuel mileage.
"We had Kurt saving fuel right after our first stop," said Tryson. "As much as we hated it, we had to bring him down pit road a second time just to get caught up with where all the other good cars were in looking at the fuel window. We sort of boxed him into a corner and he had to drive the wheels off the thing during the final laps out there.
"The day was great for us as far as the big picture goes, though. We clicked it down to only four races to go before the Chase kicks in and we have a 275-point buffer over 13th," said Tryson. "We're in pretty good shape. Kurt and I were talking about the situation here yesterday and we're determined to put ourselves in a position to go all out to win the upcoming races at Atlanta and Richmond. We need to get locked in and then go after all the bonus points we can get."
Busch started today's weather-delayed race from the outside pole. He wasted little time in getting around pole-winner Jimmie Johnson to grab the lead on the first lap and was able to stretch his advantage up to three seconds over second-place runner Denny Hamlin at Lap 15.
When debris in the inner-loop area brought out the first caution of the race on Lap 18, Tryson called Busch down pit road on Lap 19 for four tires and fuel. With Marcos Ambrose, Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson opting to stay out, Busch was fourth on the Lap 20 restart.
Busch was able to track down Ambrose and make the pass on Lap 28 to regain the lead, only to be called back down pit road for a fuel-only stop on Lap 29. Busch fell to 37th in the running order after making that pit stop.
Ambrose, Johnson and Kyle Busch took turns leading during the mid-portion of the race. Tony Stewart finally flexed his muscle on Lap 46, clearing the younger Busch for the lead.
A round of green-flag pit stops began on Lap 55 when Hamlin, Casey Mears and others hit pit road. Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson pitted on Lap 56. Tryon called Busch to bring the "blue deuce" down pit road for the final time on Lap 58. After a 14.797-second four-tires-and-fuel pit stop, Busch was shown running 14th when the stops cycled around on Lap 60.
Contact from Kahne entering Turn 9 sent Hornish veering straight into the outside tire barrier on Lap 62 and spinning wildly back onto the race surface directly in front of Jeff Gordon. The end result was the fourth caution of the race that wound up collecting a half-dozen cars and was so horrendous that it will be on the highlight reel for the 2009 NASCAR season.
After a 25-minute red-flag period, the race restarted with Kyle Busch leading, Stewart second, Ambrose third, Biffle fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya fifth. Max Papis, Martin Truex, Jr., Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Mears rounded out the top 10. Hamlin was 11th, Johnson 12th and Kurt Busch 13th when the race returned to green on Lap 66.
Stewart got back around the younger Busch on Lap 67 for the lead before Elliott Sadler and Patrick Carpentier crashed in Turn 1 to bring out the fifth yellow flag on Lap 71.
Busch had his Miller Lite Dodge up to 12th on the Lap 73 restart. He disposed both Johnson and Hamlin in a single lap to take the 10th spot on Lap 74. Busch passed Bowyer on Lap 75 for ninth and got under Truex on Lap 76 for eighth.
The top-six cars had built a huge lead on the rest of the field after the most-recent restart. Busch finally caught Papis and made the pass for seventh on Lap 78. During the final 10 laps, Busch was able to close in on sixth-place Montoya, but had to settle for seventh.
Stewart emerged as the winner here this afternoon by 2.969 seconds over Ambrose for his Cup-record fifth victory at the famed road course. It was Stewart's third win in his first season as an owner-driver and the seventh road course win of his career, second to Jeff Gordon's NASCAR-record nine.
Edwards finished third, with Kyle Busch fourth and Biffle fifth. Montoya, Kurt Busch, Papis, Bowyer and Hamlin rounded out today's top-10 finishers. Penske Racing's David Stremme was credited with a 26th-place finish, while Hornish finished in the 36th spot.
After 22 races have been put into the 2009 record book, Stewart leads Johnson by 260 points (3,383 to 3,123) in the standings. Gordon is third (3,041 points), Kurt Busch is fourth (2,902) and Hamlin (2,847) is fifth. Edwards (2,830) is sixth, Montoya (2,781) is seventh, Kahne (2,754) eighth, Ryan Newman (2,727) ninth, Biffle (2,718) 10th, Mark Martin (2,716) 11th and Matt Kenseth (2,685) 12th.
On the "outside and looking in" are 13th-place Kyle Busch (2,627 points), 14th-place Brian Vickers (2,589) and 15th-place Bowyer (2,586).
Hornish (2.021 points) holds down the 28th position, while Stremme (1,856 points) is shown in the 31st spot.