Kurt Busch Finishes Eighth in Subway 500 at Phoenix

February 27, 2011

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 27, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch finished eighth in today's Subway Fresh Fit 500 here at Phoenix International Raceway and climbed to second in the 2011 Sprint Cup point standings.  After two of 36 points-paying races have been put into the record books, the 2004 series champ trails younger brother, Kyle, by three points (80 to 77), with the tour now heading back to the brothers' hometown of Las Vegas for next week's third event of the season.
Busch started today's race from the outside pole and led three times for a total of 31 laps before handling issues diminished his Dodge Charger's winning potential.  Busch's Steve Addington-led team made continuous air pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments throughout the race,  but were never able to get their car turning through the center of the turns like was needed.
"We'll take a top 10," Busch said back at the team transporter after cooling off.  "It was a pretty good day for the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge today.  Steve (Addington, crew chief) and the guys gave me a fast car for qualifying.  That allowed us to start up front and that's a must at a track like Phoenix where track position is so important.
"As the race went on, we just weren't able to get our car to turn through the center of the corner like we needed and couldn't consistently stay with the leaders," Busch explained.   "One of the keys to Phoenix is being able to get back to the gas in the center of the corners and when you're not able to do that, you just scrub too much speed off the car.  But the big picture for this ‘Double-Deuce' team is that we leave Phoenix with our second-consecutive top 10 and another solid points day."
Jeff Gordon passed Kyle Busch with eight laps to go and cruised to his first victory on the circuit since the April 2009 Texas race, 66 races ago.  The younger Busch was going for a three-race sweep here this weekend after winning Friday's Truck Series race and yesterday's Nationwide Series event.  Gordon crossed the finish line 1.137 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch.
Jimmie Johnson finished third here today, with Kevin Harvick fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.  Kasey Kahne was sixth, with Tony Stewart seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, A.J. Allmendinger ninth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10th.  Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-14 finishers who completed all 312 laps.  Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski was the lead car running a lap down and finished a strong 15th in the Miller Lite Dodge.
"We just have to keep working on getting our cars turning better," Addington said.  "Kurt never gave up and drove his guts out all day.  We probably had a 12th-place car there at the end of the race, but Kurt was able to get us a solid top-10 finish out of it."
Heading into Las Vegas, Kyle Busch leads the standings with 80 points.  Kurt Busch is second with 77 points.  Stewart is third with 69, Allmendinger fourth with 69 and Gordon fifth with 65.  Mark Martin (65), Bobby Labonte (64), Newman (64), Juan Pablo Montoya (64) and David Gilliland (63) round out the top 10 in points.  Keselowski's top-15 finish elevated him to 20th in the standings (with 45 points).
 Next weekend's schedule at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gets under way with Friday's practice from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m.   Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's 267-lap battle is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV and PRN Radio).  Saturday's final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 10:10 a.m. till 11:25 a.m. Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 (400.5 miles/267 laps) has a scheduled 12:00 p.m. local (3:00 p.m. ET) starting time at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas facility.  FOX-TV and PRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.