Kurt Busch Wins Coors Light Pole at Michigan

June 18, 2011

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 18, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil driver Kurt Busch claimed the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 here at Michigan International Speedway with a fast lap of 38.156 seconds (188.699 mph).  Today's pole was Busch's third consecutive pole of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.  It marked Busch's 15th career pole and his second here at MIS.  Busch also won the pole for this race last year.

"Incredible," Busch said of his three consecutive poles and the fourth in-a-row for Penske Racing.  "A lot of hard work by everyone on this No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil team.  With the way and the direction that I wanted to go and felt what was wrong, to steer the ship in the right direction and see the results is rewarding.  Our Dodge is fast.  It feels great to find good results now.  I think we just got back to basics and the results are showing on the track.

"I'm really happy for the guys that work on this car," added Busch.  "Our R6 engine was awesome.  Great decision by Steve (Addington, crew chief) and the team to set the car up and it showed today.  We'll have a great pit stall and in fuel mileage races, that's really important."

The last driver to win three consecutive poles was former Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman, who recorded the streak in 2007.  Newman drove a Penske Racing No. 12 Dodge to consecutive poles at Charlotte, Dover and Pocono.

"It's great and an amazing feeling to have three poles in a row," said Busch, who was the 41st of 46 drivers to take to the track and go against the stopwatch.   "It goes back to the guys and all the hard work, dedication, commitment and most of all, believing in each other.  I didn't realize that we've been in the top 10 all year long in points.  At one point, there was this feeling of, ‘wow, we're going to lose this edge if we don't steer in a different direction'.  I'm thankful that everyone was able to pull together and understand that we should just try something different.

"Whether it was right, wrong or indifferent, it's great to see the results pop up so soon.  I had no idea that we were right around the corner.  But, this is a game of thousandths (of a second) and I just saw the 00's time, he was three-thousandths-of-a-second behind us.  I went Pro Stock racing earlier this year in the NHRA and three-thousandths can be the difference between hero and zero and that's what we have today.  We have the pole and I have all my guys to thank for it.  A dialed-in Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.  It's been a great week up here in Michigan at the Dodge headquarters, seeing the Chrysler and Mopar folks, SRT group and the Viper guys.  It's just a good family feeling up here in Michigan and it's good to show results out on the track.

"This is a special accomplishment," said Busch.  "It's nice that we have the confidence in each other right now to know exactly how much air to put in the tires.  We were sitting there on pit road the whole time wondering, ‘do we add air?  Do we take out air?'  We watched Brad's run and we were in a panic because we really didn't know where Brad set his car up exactly.  It was cool to call the team engineer on the radio back at the truck, he analyzed Brad's setup versus ours…even that much more depth…just a quick check of basically one thing that we gauged and we saw that he was quite a bit of percentage tighter than us on that check.  If he was that tight and we were set up that loose, we didn't need to go any looser with our setup.  It was nice to have that correlation of watching your teammate go out just a few cars ahead and still make an adjustment in time."

Reutimann took the outside-front-row starting spot with a lap of 38.159 seconds (188.684 mph).  Matt Kenseth (38.172 seconds/188.620 mph) will start third, with Brian Vickers (38.266/188.157) fourth and Regan Smith (38.378/187.607) fifth.  Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin rounded out today's top-10 qualifiers.

Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski will start his No. 2 Miller Lite "Blue Deuce" Dodge from the 41st position after posting a lap of 39.093 seconds (184.176 mph).

"What a great job by Kurt (Busch) and all the guys that touch this race car," said Addington, who made the call earlier this week to bring the car the team debuted at Kansas (PRS-754 that won the pole, led the most laps and finished ninth there) to race here at MIS this weekend.  "This is big.  To do this in Dodge's backyard is awesome.  I think the track temperature caught everybody by surprise today.  We practiced in qualifying trim and didn't touch it.  It's awesome.  Just a great job by everyone at Penske and Dodge.  Kurt's been awesome behind the wheel and the results have shown.  Now we need to go get a win on Sunday."

Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 (200 laps, 400 miles) here on this 2.0-mile track is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Race No. 15 of 36 points-paying events on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.