Busch On A Mission To Lock Into The Chase at Richmond

September 8, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 8, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch enters Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on the mission of clinching a spot in the Chase and then going all-out in winning the race. The ultimate goal for the night is gaining the valuable Chase bonus points and building extra momentum for the grueling 10-race Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship.

"Clinch that spot, win the race, earn those extra points for doing so and be ready to really get after it during the 10 Chase races," said Busch, the 2004 series champ, when asked of his team's goal for the upcoming weekend. "That sounds like a pretty long list and rest assured, it'll be long on demands in order to accomplish that goal.

"You'll have most all the teams out there - all but a select group of teams -- who are in a full-blast, all-out mode and unfortunately we're among that group who can't," said Busch, who enters Richmond seventh in the points, and attempting to make the Chase for the fourth time in the last six seasons. "The overwhelming attitude for a lot of the teams will be to do whatever it takes to win there on Saturday night. We're still in that group looking to clinch a Chase spot, so we'll have to continuously be looking at the points situation throughout the race."

Busch, who claimed his 2004 title in the inaugural year of the Chase format, enters Richmond with a 95-point "buffer" over 13th-place Brian Vickers (3,152 to 3,057). Regardless of any other driver's finish at Richmond, Busch will clinch a spot in the Chase if he finishes 20th or better; 22nd or better and leads at least one lap; or 24th or better and leads the most laps.

"For many teams it'll be a situation of absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain in the Richmond race and it certainly has all aspects that could lead up to a really wild battle," said Busch, who won the 2005 edition of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. "For the teams already locked into the Chase, those guys will be going at it wide open trying to get that checkered flag and the 10 Chase bonus points awarded when they do the seeding next week before the Loudon race. We have to race fairly conservative and can't get overly aggressive out there.

"For all the other teams, about 25 or more of them, it's a case of trying to get all the glory they can," said Busch. "There's nothing those guys would like to do more than grab the win and steal some of the headlines from the Chase contenders. They know that it's probably the only way they're going to get any attention for their teams and sponsors.

"For our Miller Lite Dodge Team, it'll be a huge challenge, that's for sure," said Busch. "We're hoping that we can continue to show the progress we've been making with every facet of our overall program.

"If we're going to have a true shot at winning at Richmond on Saturday night, we'll definitely have to be capable of running stronger and more consistent than we did there during the last race back in May. It was another race that has been so typical for us, when we run in the top-five for three-quarters of the race and then fall off at the end. I'm confident that we've improved considerably since May and can't wait to see how we stack up."

Busch has raced the same car - the "PRS-574" Miller Lite Dodge - in the two most recent Richmond races. In last September's Chevy Rock & Roll 400, Busch started 20th and finished 10th. He came back with that same car to start 17th and finish 12th in the May 2 Crown Royal 400. In that race, Busch was a fixture among the top-five competitors until the final 100 laps. He led two times for eight laps during the race.

Busch and his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Penske Racing Team will be racing their "PRS-621" Miller Lite Dodge in Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond. This is a brand new car that will hit the race track for the very first time when practice begins at 12:00 noon on Friday at Richmond.

"What a better time to bring out this new car than for the last race before the Chase?" Tryson asked, wearing a mischievous grin. "Seriously, it's a move that I think shows just how committed we are in trying clinch a spot in the Chase and win this race. We debuted another brand new car ("PRS-611") a few weeks back at Bristol. That car was a ton better than the car we had there for the spring Bristol race. I'll bet that this car turns out to be a ton better than the car we had under Kurt for the spring Richmond race. We had a solid top-five car at Richmond back in May until we were guilty of over-adjusting on the thing. We're confident that this will be a stronger car and we're also confident that we'll be smarter with our setup and adjustments this time around. The bottom line is that we're doing all we can to clinch a spot in the Chase, get us a win there on Saturday night, get the bonus points and ride that wave on into the Chase."

Busch's Richmond career track record entering this weekend boasts one win (September 2005), two top-five finishes and five top-10s in 17 career starts in Cup competition. He competed in one NASCAR truck series race, starting from the pole and finishing third in September 2000. In two IROC starts at Richmond, he started eighth and finished third in 2004 and started fourth and finished second in 2005.

This weekend's action at Richmond International Raceway will again feature a two-day format for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour competitors. Action gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. The final practice for the Sprint Cup cars is set from 2:00 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. on Friday (live on SPEED). Saturday night's 43-car starting field will be determined in Friday's 5:40 p.m. single round of Cup qualifying (live on ESPN2). Saturday's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 (400 laps, 300 miles) Sprint Cup race has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and MRN Radio presenting live coverage.