Kurt Busch Finishes Fourth in Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

May 30, 2011

CONCORD, N.C. (May 29, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver survived tonight's Coca-Cola 600 here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a race that he described as "total chaos" up front on the final laps, to finish fourth and climb up to sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.

"It's amazing that we can race 600 miles and it comes down to a green-white-checkered finish and fuel mileage," Busch said out on pit road after the dust had settled.  "That's the excitement that this sport brings and you never know when it's going to be your time to have fuel or not at the very end.  Today, we had enough and Steve (Addington) made a great call to come in and top-off for fuel.  It worked out and we made the right calculations to make it to the end of the race."

Busch, crew chief Addington and crew had pitted on Lap 345 and took extra time on pit road for gas man Chris Williams to get the "Double Deuce" Dodge's tank packed with fuel.  The move sent Busch from seventh back to 11th for the restart with 52 laps remaining, but it paid dividends at the end.

"We knew that we could make it through one green-white-checker flag; we didn't think that we could make it to a second," Busch offered.

Jimmie Johnson's blown engine on Lap 396 had teams scurrying.  Some had already hit pit road for the fuel they needed, while others opted to stay out and roll the dice.  Busch lined up seventh in the order for the green-white-checkered run with the knowledge that he could make it at least that far.

On the restart, Kasey Kahne had lined up second and ran out of fuel as the field flew into Turn 1.  Cars immediately tried to maneuver around to avoid the chaos that ensued, with several drivers making contact.  Greg Biffle had led, but had to pit for fuel, handing the lead off to Dale Earnhardt Jr.  "Junior" was able to hold the lead until he ran out of fuel in Turns 3 & 4 heading down to the finish.

In the mad dash to the start/finish line, it was Kevin Harvick taking the win by 0.703 seconds over runner-up David Ragan.  Joey Logano finished third, with Kurt fourth and A.J. Allmendinger fifth.  Marcos Ambrose, Earnhardt, Regan Smith, David Reutimann and Denny Hamlin rounded out today's top-10 finishers.

"We got lucky," Busch said of the wild finish.  "People were spinning their tires and struggling to get fuel to their carburetor.  There was chaos up above on the restart and I know my teammate got into it.  It's tough.  Brad Keselowski had a good run today in that Miller Lite Dodge."

Penske teammate Keselowski had won the pole here on Thursday night and was running in the top-five for the majority of today's race before getting caught up in the late-race mishap.  He was running fourth on the final restart, but when Kahne ran out fuel and slowed directly in front of him, he had nowhere to go.  Impact caused significant damage to the Miller Lite Dodge and relegated the "Blue Deuce" team to a 19th-place finish.

"I've seen fuel mileage wins here before and I've finished runner-up with it," offered Addington, who had to use a "wave-around" move to remain on the lead lap after a vibration forced his driver to pit under the green on Lap 160.  "Everybody did a good job on this Shell/Pennzoil Dodge tonight.  We still have a ways to go to get our cars where we need them to get competitive with those Fords.   We're headed in the right direction.  Everybody stayed focused.  The driver stayed focused and we got a good finish out of it.

"We pitted around lap 297 with the 2 car, topped off with gas and took two tires and that was the game plan and it worked out," said Addington, who also made a savvy call in keeping Busch out to lead Laps 232-234 (and gaining the bonus point) just before the sixth yellow flag of the race flew.  "I'm just so proud of Kurt and the guys for hanging in there.  We've had a pretty tough month of May and hopefully a race like we had here tonight will do a lot of good."

After 12 races have been put into the 2011 Sprint Cup Series record book, Carl Edwards continues to lead the points with 445.  Harvick is second with 409, with Johnson third (408) Earnhardt fourth (402) and Kyle Busch fifth (392).  Kurt Busch is sixth with 377 and is followed by Matt Kenseth (374), Clint Bowyer (365), Tony Stewart (356) and Ryan Newman (353) rounding out the top-10 drivers.  Keselowski is 25th with 277 points.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads to the Kansas Speedway for the first of two races on that 1.5-mile track during the 2011 season.   This weekend's schedule at Kansas Speedway begins on Friday with practices from 12:30 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. (CDT) and from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m.   Saturday's 11:10 a.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday's 43-car starting field.  Sunday's STP 400 (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 12:00 noon CDT (1:00 p.m. EDT) starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.