Busch Qualifies 27th for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350

June 19, 2009


SONOMA, Calif. (June 19, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway from the 27th starting spot after turning in a qualifying lap of 77.615 seconds (92.302 mph) in today's time trial session on the sprawling California Wine Country road course.

"We were struggling in practice and decided to throw the kitchen sink at it," said Busch, who was 26th fastest on the practice speed chart with a lap of 77.804 seconds (92.078 mph). "We just couldn't find the forward bite that we needed. We changed shocks and springs - made numerous changes after practice - and really went for it.

"I was charging it really hard on our lap and got off the track a little in (Turn) 2 and that scrubbed a lot of the speed off," said Busch. "We picked up about two tenths (of a second) from practice, but so did everybody else. It'll be the big quest for forward bite here in tomorrow's practices and we'll give it all we can in the effort to get our Miller Lite Dodge race-ready for Sunday."

Brian Vickers, who has been having great qualifying efforts seemingly everywhere this year, continued that trend by claiming the top spot here this afternoon. Out 24th in the order of 47 drivers, Vickers turned in a lap of 76.475 seconds (93.678 mph) to claim his second pole in a row, fourth of the season and ninth overall.

Kyle Busch (76.690 seconds/93.415 mph) took the second spot, with Marcos Ambrose (76.918/93.138) third, Tony Stewart (77.000/93.039) fourth and Kasey Kahne (77.040/92.991) fifth. Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Boris Said and Matt Kenseth rounded out Friday's top-10 qualifiers.

Sam Hornish Jr. led the Penske Racing trio in qualifying Friday, taking the 18th starting spot with a lap of 77.325 seconds (92.648 mph). Busch will start 27th and David Stremme 39th. Hornish had been 17th in practice, while Stremme was 39th.

Saturday's schedule here at Infineon Raceway calls for practice from 9:30 a.m. till 10:15 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 10:50 a.m. till 11:50 a.m. (live on Speed-TV). Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 (110 laps) on the 1.99-mile scenic road course is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 2:00 p.m. PDT. Race No. 16 of 36 points-paying events on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and PRN Radio.

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Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch met with the media gathered here at Infineon Raceway this afternoon for his top-12 media question & answer session. Here is the transcript of that press conference (courtesy Dodge Motorsports):

HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE TODAY AND WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY? "I feel like we've done the best that we can with our Miller Lite Dodge for road racing this year with test sessions at Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway. To come out here and shake out the car, our Miller Lite Dodge seems to be reacting well; we're just off on speed a little bit from where we've been in years past. I think we're just going to try and head back to where we qualified here last year (third), but it's tough right now. We're throwing everything at it and the kitchen sink at the car, maybe we'll get settled in a little bit more tomorrow during the practices. It just seems like we can't get the car to turn like we need to and the biggest issue is that we just can't get that forward drive, forward bite, coming off the corners. We're just spinning the tires a little bit. Overall, I enjoy coming out to Infineon. It's been a good track for me in the past, also a sentimental track for me as well. When I was in the (NASCAR) Southwest Tour I won a race here and I felt like that help put my name on the map. I always get pumped up for this race; back on the West Coast as well."

CAN YOU COMPARE AND CONTRAST INFINEON TO WATKINS GLEN? "This race track...what I learned from my old crew chief Roy McCauley...he called this a point-and-shoot-style race track. You aim at the corner, put it (the car) in there and shoot out of the corner because you're not in the corner that long. A lot of slower corners here and you get in and you get out as fast as you can.

"At Watkins Glen, it's more of a speed road course. You're in the corners much longer. You're worried about aerodynamics. You have to carry your speed through all the corners to make sure you've got the handle on the aerodynamics-side versus the mechanical grip-side. This place, you just point-and-shoot and get out of the corner as fast as you can. Watkins Glen is long, sweeping corners where you're carrying speed through all those corners."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS HERE ON SUNDAY? "I thought that the question that I raised to Robin Pemberton at our Indianapolis tire test was interesting on my side of it. He didn't think it to be that big of an issue. It was almost a deer in the headlight look that he gave me. He looked at me like, ‘Why should it be a problem when we come here to Sonoma?' Well, the cars have a hard enough time running single-file and staying on-track as it is. The dirty line (of the restart) is going to be on the outside; it's going to be on the right. So I think that the pole sitter will choose to the left. The first two corners are left-handers, and then you hope that you get clear to make that Turn 2, the right-hander. It's going to be very congested. If you're not in the first three or four cars, you're going to be double-file on whether it's going to be a log jam, a parking lot; it's going to take a few laps for it to settle down. Normally, we just have one of those (double-file) starts... the initial start...as so there is going to be many opportunities for extra yellows (flags) to happen because cars are going to go off in Turn 2 and (Turn) 4 and have issues in Turn 7 with everyone running into each other. We're just going to be on top of each other that much more and it's a very congested race track to do this double-file restart on."

WHEN YOU'RE IN YOUR PASSENGER CAR, DO YOU LET ANYONE ELSE DRIVE? "Usually right after the race, it's smart to not drive because you still have all that adrenaline going.

You want to rush home as quick as you can and spend that much more time at home, usually we try to make travel arrangements as easy as we can after a race, whether that's a helicopter or plane ride, and so I usually don't jump behind the wheel until I head to the race shop the next day. You have to let things cool down and settle back in."

WHAT ABOUT THE OFF-SEASON? "I pretty much do the driving. I feel like I can see ahead on what traffic lanes are moving easier or if the red light is coming up. You always try to look ahead to beat the other guy (smile)."

SO IF THAT RED LIGHT COMES UP YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN MAKE IT? "Well, I would tell NASCAR that it was more yellow than it was red, but I don't think that the highway patrol would believethat as much (laughs)."