Kurt Busch Starting 26th in Saturday Nights Race

July 1, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 1, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 from the 25th position after posting a lap of 49.952 seconds (180.173 mph) in this afternoon’s qualifying session.  Although Busch would prefer to start closer to the front, he is still bubbling with confidence that he can claim his first career points-paying restrictor-plate NASCAR Sprint Cup victory here at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.

“Qualifying is qualifying here,” Busch said of the scenario here today that saw all cars impounded after they completed their qualifying runs.  “How much do you want to put your car out on the edge?  You don’t want to lose the race in qualifying by stuffing it into the wall.  Our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge is fast.  Our car is really stable and ready for the draft.  It’s an aggressive two-car draft.  It’s July.  It’s going to be a little bit slicker.  We’ll see how it shakes out.   A lot of guys are built for raw speed, but can they handle it when it gets slick out?  We’ll see how everything shakes out.  We’re fast in a two-car tandem.  I’ll be starting next to my teammate and we worked really well together in practice yesterday.”

Busch and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski will share the 13th row on the starting grid here tomorrow night, as Keselowski qualified his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge 26th with a lap of 49.990 seconds (180.040 mph).

Mark Martin claimed the Coors Light Pole Award here today with a fast lap of 49.433 seconds (182.065 mph).  That edged Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne’s 49.450-second (182.002 mph) lap, as Bayne will start on the outside of the front row.  Clint Bowyer (49.553 seconds/181.624 mph) will start third, with Jeff Gordon (49.564/181.583) and David Ragan (49.636/181.320) rounding out the top five starters.  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Andy Lally, Jimmie Johnson, A.J. Allmendinger and Paul Menard rounded out today’s top 10.

When Dodge Motorsports PR representative Scott Sebastian pointed out to Busch that he has led more than two-thirds of his career laps led on the superspeedways, Busch acknowledged that fact.  “We were really fast here in Speed Weeks, but we’re still trying to get to victory lane in a point’s race on the big tracks,” said Busch.  “I’ve always had really good cars that draft well.  You need a comfort zone out there and I feel right at home on the big tracks and the draft.  You need to be there at the end.  If we catch a break, maybe this can be our year.”

Teammate Keselowski certainly is aware of the 2004 series champ’s skills on the circuit’s largest tracks.  “Kurt (Busch) and I will start the side-by-side and that’s cool because we’ll have the chance to hook-up early in the race and run in that two-car draft,” the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion said.  “We have great speed together and he’s a hell of a driver, something I’m really excited about tomorrow.  It’s going to be hot.  It’s going to be intense.  I’ve got the chance to hook up with one of the best restrictor-plate racers out here, so it’s going to be a lot of fun all night.”

Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 (160 Laps, 200 Miles) is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. EDT.  Race No. 17 of 36 points-paying events on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.