Kurt Busch Starting 11th In Sunday's 500-Mile Battle At Pocono Raceway

June 6, 2008


LONG POND, Pa. (June 6, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start 11th in Sunday's Pocono 500 here at Pocono Raceway after clocking in with an official qualifying lap of 168.124 mph (53.532 seconds).

"After turning in the fastest lap here in testing last week, we hoped to have a little bit better qualifying day here today," said Busch, who had turned in a test lap of 169.456 mph (53.111 seconds) during the test. "I'm not sure if the conditions changed that much or what the big difference was. The car was just too tight over there in the tunnel turn. Even if we'd been able to duplicate what we ran here in testing, we still wouldn't have had anything for the 9 car (pole-winner Kasey Kahne) or the 48 (second-place qualifier Jimmie Johnson).

"I really think we'll be good here on Sunday," said Busch, a two-time Pocono race winner who also has four runner-up finishes. "I've always liked racing here and the place has been pretty good to me through the years. We'll have two practice sessions here tomorrow to get her dialed in. They're telling me that the weather conditions will be very similar here tomorrow and Sunday - lots of sun and hotter than we've seen it so far this season. We'll do our best to get our Miller Lite Dodge dialed in good enough to have another successful race day here."

Johnson was the first driver out to make his run. The day had started off with overcast skies and a chill in the air. Johnson made his attempt under ideal conditions as the skies continued to get less cloudy and the temperatures continued to rise as the session rolled on. Johnson clocked in with a lap of 169.856 mph (52.985 seconds).

Johnson's lap held the pole until Kahne, who had turned the fastest lap in practice (169.879 mph/52.979 seconds), hit the track as the 31st of 44 drivers in the qualifying order. He backed up his fast practice lap by turning in a lap of 170.219 mph (52.873 seconds) to take the pole. None of the remaining drivers came within a half-second of Kahne's lap.

Kahne and Johnson start on the first row here on Sunday, followed by Mark Martin and Regan Smith on Row No. 2. Joe Nemechek, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Riggs and Kyle Busch rounded out today's top-10 qualifiers. Kurt, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Dario Franchitti and Brian Vickers round out Sunday's top-15 starters.

As for Kurt's Penske Racing teammates, Ryan Newman (167.255 mph/53.810 seconds) will line up 27th here on Sunday and rookie Sam Hornish Jr. (165.071 mph/54.522 seconds) will start 41st on an owner's provisional.

Saturday's schedule here at Pocono Raceway calls for practice from 10:00 a.m. till 10:50 a.m. and the final "Happy Hour" practice session from 11:20 a.m. till 12:20 p.m. Sunday's Pocono 500 (200 laps/500 miles) has a 2:00 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.