Kurt Busch Starting 40th Saturday at Phoenix

April 11, 2008

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 10, 2008) - Kurt Busch will start his Miller Lite Dodge Charger from the 40th starting spot in Saturday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway after "just pushing it too hard" in Thursday's qualifying session.

"We ran a 40 (27.40-second lap) in practice and were 11th-fastest on the board, so I don't have to tell you that we're disappointed about the performance in qualifying," said Busch, who has one win, two top-five finishes and five top-10s in 10 career starts on the "Desert Mile."  "We were hoping to pick up at least a couple of tenths between practice and qualifying and if we could have done that, we'd been well up there in the top 15 for the start of the race.  The car just got really twitchy out there in qualifying and it wouldn't turn through the corners.

"We felt like we were top-five material in race trim when we tested out here right after the Vegas race and we were really strong again in race trim here today," said Busch, who has completed an amazing 99.9 percent of all his possible laps (3,120 of 3,123) on the one-mile P.I.R. oval.  "We should be okay in the race.  The bad thing is that our qualifying spot puts us at a disadvantage that we'll have to fight all night long.  But like Pat (Tryson, crew chief) said, with all the bad weather that hit us earlier in the year, we're pretty used to starting from the back and working our way toward the front."

"We've got our work cut out for us for sure here on Saturday night, but we've shown that we have the ability to start deep in the field and get her back up toward the front," said Tryson.  "Kurt really races well on this track and I'm confident we'll give the fans something exciting to watch as we come on up through there during the race. 

"We just need to keep our cool and keep it together for 312 laps here Saturday," said Tryson.  "If we come out of here in decent shape, we'll get some more testing in during the next couple of weeks before we head back to Talladega, where Kurt is on course for putting the Miller Lite Dodge back in Victory Lane."

Busch had clocked in with a lap of 27.405 seconds in Thursday's practice session leading up to qualifying.  But, when taking to the track 23rd in the qualifying order, he could only muster a 27.631 (-second lap) on his first circuit under the clock and a 27.496 on his second lap.  That equated to an official qualifying effort of 130.928 mph.

While Busch and crew will be starting from the rear on Saturday night, Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman will be starting up front.  Newman, fastest in the practice session (27.188-second lap), backed up that effort by posting a pole-winning 26.975-second lap (133.457 mph) in qualifying.  The effort was good for Newman's first pole of the season and 43rd of his career.  His fourth pole here at Phoenix tied Buck Baker for 10th on the all-time pole list.

Fellow Dodge driver Elliott Sadler joins Newman in starting on the front row for Saturday night's race after posting the second-fastest qualifying lap of 26.984 seconds (133.412 mph).  Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Casey Kahne rounded out today's top-five qualifiers, while Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr. and Scott Riggs completed the top 10. 

Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. will start his Mobil 1 Dodge from the 31st starting spot after posting an official qualifying lap of 27.352 seconds/131.617 mph.  

Busch will certainly have good company with him starting at the back on Saturday as current points leader Jeff Burton turned in the exact same qualifying speed and will go from the 39th starting spot. 

Friday's schedule at P.I.R. calls for practice sessions at 3:45 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Saturday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 (312 laps, 312 miles, 500 kilometers) has a scheduled 5:30 p.m. local starting time.  FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.