Kurt Busch Finishes 23rd At Texas Motor Speedway

April 6, 2008

Justin, Texas (April 6, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch started 23rd and finished 23rd in Sunday's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. In a race full of frustration for many drivers and teams, Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Penske Racing No. 2 Team were still able to advance a spot in the NASCAR Cup point standings.

"We missed the setup again and it's really frustrating," said Busch, who climbed from 16th to 15th in the points after the race and is now 111 points behind Kasey Kahne, who holds down the 12th and final spot of "Chase eligibility" after seven of 36 races. "All we can do is keep plugging away. We were really loose in at the beginning of the race and just never got a handle on it. It just seemed like it was from one extreme to the other, regardless of what we did."

"I guess it was just a situation of being on the wrong side of the razor's edge," crew chief Tryson said of Sunday's 23rd-place effort. "These cars have proven to be so sensitive and we're all still learning every time we take to the track.

"We unloaded this new car on Friday and were on the tight side from the first time Kurt hit the track," Tryson continued. "We were still too tight in practice yesterday and did what we could to conservatively free the car up for today's race. It's just a razor's edge difference in going from too tight to too loose with these cars.

"We wound up making adjustments and finding those to be too extreme. Then we'd try to balance things out and wind up totally on the other end of where we needed to be. These cars are a handful for the drivers and the teams, but we'll get it figured out, I guarantee you that. I guess the perfect example here today is (Jeff) Gordon and the 24 car. How many times has that team been so far off that Jeff crashed because of an ill-handling race car?

"Then you look and see that their teammate (Jimmie Johnson) ran strong all day long and finished as the runner-up," added Tryson. "The 12 (Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman) ran really consistent and my hat's off to Ryan, (crew chief) Roy (McCauley) and all of them. Hopefully they learned a great deal out there today and we found some things that will help us on these intermediate tracks in the future."

Busch started 23rd and reported he was "primarily loose in, tight in the middle and a little loose off (the turns)" after 25 laps. When Michael Waltrip spun in Turn 4 on Lap 29, Tryson and crew went to work trying to massage their Dodge Charger's chassis. They took air out of three tires and made a track bar adjustment.

The adjustment created such a swing in the handling characteristics that they tried a "double-reverse approach" during their next pit stop on Lap 84. Those changes created such radical changes that Busch was fearful he would spin out at any moment. Jimmie Johnson was leading on Lap 95 and managed to put the No. 2 car down a lap.

When Gordon spun in Turn 4 on Lap 108, the second yellow flag of the race flew, sending all the cars back to pit road for service. Tryson and crew made changes to return their car back to the exact same setup that Busch had at the beginning of the race.

A Lap 132 caution for debris saw Busch get the "Lucky Dog" free pass and return to the lead lap. Busch was 23rd on the Lap 136 restart. The torrid pace that leaders Matt Kenseth, Johnson, Kyle Busch and, at the end - Carl Edwards - mounted saw only 10 cars running on the lead lap at the finish.

Busch, Tryson and crew experimented with removing and replacing spring rubbers and numerous track bar, air pressure and wedge adjustments during the remainder of the race. They were never able to find the balance needed to run with the leaders.

Pre-race favorite Edwards never showed his full muscle until getting around the younger Busch Brother for the lead on Lap 215. Two caution periods (including the one on Lap 295 for debris, which allowed the No. 12 Alltel Dodge to pick up the "Lucky Dog" free pass back onto the lead lap) closed the field up to Edward's No. 99 Ford. The final yellow flag forced the race into overtime and produced a green-white-checkered finish.

Martin Truex Jr.'s blown engine on Lap 330 produced a strategic battle that unfolded in the final laps. While the top-six cars stayed out (Edwards, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kenseth and Clint Bowyer), the remaining drivers on the lead lap (Newman, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton ) pitted for two fresh tires.

The overtime restart on Lap 337 saw Edwards get a great jump on the field and he was able to complete the 339 laps with a 0.400-second advantage over Johnson to post his third win of the 2008 season. Kyle Busch finished third, with the Roy McCauley-led Newman effort coming through with an impressive fourth-place finish. Hamlin rounded out Sunday's top-five finishers. Burton, Stewart, Martin, Kenseth and Bowyer completed the top 10. Penske Racing's NASCAR rookie Sam Hornish came home 32nd in Sunday's race.

After seven races, Burton holds the points lead with 1,065 points. Kevin Harvick is second and trails Burton by 59 points. Kyle Busch is third with 1,001 points, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds down the fourth spot with 978 points. Tony Stewart rounds out the top-five in points with 957. Newman advanced three positions (now eighth) in the standings with his outstanding performance and has 901 points. Kurt Busch is 15th with 763 points and Hornish is 34th in the standings with 502.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads out to the "Desert Mile," Phoenix International Raceway, for next weekend's running of the Subway Fresh 500. Saturday's race (312 laps, 312 miles, 500 kilometers) has a scheduled 5:30 p.m. PT starting time. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.