Heading to New Hampshire, Busch Demonstrates Consistency

July 13, 2011

Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-756" Penske Racing Dodge Charger at New Hampshire this weekend. "This is a brand new Dodge Charger that we'll be racing at Loudon," explained crew chief Addington. "We tested the (PRS) ‘750 car' (the Coca-Cola 600 car that finished fourth) at the Milwaukee Mile a few weeks back in preparation for this weekend, but the plan has always been to take this new car there this weekend. We've had quite a bit of success bringing new cars to the tracks and Kurt has been really pleased with the new pieces we've been adding to our stable. Remember the last race where we debuted a new car? That's right, it was Sonoma (where Busch won the June 26 Toyota/Save Mart 350)."

LOUDON, N.H. (July 12, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led "Double-Deuce" Penske Racing Team have certainly posted some impressive numbers at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season's midpoint. As the teams move on to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend's LENOX Industrial Tools 301, the 19th of 36 points-paying races, Busch, Addington and crew are putting together a solid run toward making the Chase again this year.

After 18 races, Busch has recorded an incredible 99.811 percent lap completion average, finishing all but 10 of the possible laps (5,285 of 5,295). That ranks No. 1 for all the drivers currently in the top-12 in points. Jimmie Johnson, fifth in points, is second with a 99.490 percent average (5,268 laps completed). Ryan Newman, ninth in the standings, is third with a 98.999 percent average (5,242 laps completed). Tony Stewart, 11th in the standings, is fourth with a 98.754 percent average (5,229 laps completed). Dale Earnhardt Jr. (eighth in the standings) rounds out the top-five with a 98.584 percent average (5,220 laps completed).

"I've always said that if you aren't winning the races, you better at least be finishing them all and running all the laps," said Busch, when those statistics were brought to his attention. "It's certainly something that we are proud of and hope to keep that pace going for the remainder of the season.

"We're the only team that has been in the top-12 positions during the entire season and it's easy to connect the dots there. Until we won the race at Sonoma, it seemed like nobody wanted to look at the positive side to the solid season we've had overall. But since we visited Victory Lane there, it seems like more and more attention is being placed on the good numbers we've been able to put together.

Interestingly, of the top-five drivers on the lap completion chart, only Busch and Johnson have posted race wins. Current points-leader Kyle Busch has a 95.033 percent lap completion average (5,032 laps completed), but he has three wins along with three DNFs.

"It has definitely been a season where consistency has been a major factor in maintaining a position among the players in the points," said Busch. "You have four of the top-12 drivers who haven't won races yet and three guys who have won races and are not in that group. It'll be really interesting to see how things shake out in who makes the Chase and who doesn't.

"We're performing well out there, but we need to get better," said Busch. "We've been leaving a lot on the table, I feel. A great example is our finish last Saturday night at Kentucky. We were running third on the final restart with two laps to go. We were in a great position to win the race, with the fresher tires and all. A top-five was the worse we should have done. The car just wouldn't turn after the restart and we fell to ninth at the finish. Those were a lot of points that we left out there on the table.

"We're proud of our season so far, but we know you can't rest on your laurels," said Busch. "We're focused on getting more race wins and picking up more bonus points. I'm really optimistic that we can continue to flex our muscle and show strength at Loudon this weekend and head into the off week with our heads held high."

Other statistical highlights at the season's midpoint sees Busch tied for third in bonus points earned (with 17). Only points-leader Kyle Busch (27) and third-place Kevin Harvick (20) have more. The "Double-Deuce" Dodge driver is third in laps led with 444. Only Kyle Busch (1,060) and Johnson (473) have led more laps.

In 20 career races at New Hampshire, Busch has recorded three wins, seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has a 13.4 average start and a 13.6 average finish. He has been running at the finish in 19 of the races and finished on the lead lap 14 times.

"The summer stretch is here and we run all these tracks and none of them are in the Chase with the exception of New Hampshire," said Busch, who did the "Loudon Sweep" in claiming both NHMS wins during his successful run to the 2004 championship, the initial year of the Chase format. "So yes, New Hampshire is really important in that respect in that we'll be coming back there during the Chase. I don't think that you really pinpoint any of the upcoming races as a time when you just completely start focusing in on the points. It just sort of all blends in to where you hope that you've built up a cushion when it comes down to two or three (races) to go where you're comfortable heading into the Chase."

Busch started third and finished third in last year's LENOX Industrial Tools 301. "I thought that race was a great short-track battle," offered Busch, who had a spirited battle with Jimmie Johnson down to the wire, with Tony Stewart slipping by on the final lap for the runner-up poisition. "I thought it was a classic, get in the corner a little bit deeper than the guy-type of race. I just got into him a little bit in the left rear and nudged him up and we were able to squeak on by. But, there were just too many laps left in the race and he was able to rally back, get around and go on to win the race. The better car won that race and I admit that."

This weekend's New Hampshire Motor Speedway action gets under way on Friday with practice set from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 3:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & PRN Radio). Saturday's schedule calls for practice from 9:00 a.m. till 10:20 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 11:45 a.m. till 12:45 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Sunday's LENOX Industrial Tools 301 (301 laps, 318.46 miles) is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 1:00 p.m. EDT. Race No. 19 of 36 points-paying events on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and PRN Radio.

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