Kurt Busch Finishes 17th in Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

August 28, 2011

BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 27, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch finished 17th in today’s IRWIN Tools Night Race here at Bristol Motor Speedway after enduring two separate pit road speeding penalties.  With two races remaining to determine the 12 drivers who will race for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, Busch maintained the eighth position in the points and increased his “buffer” over 11th from 52 points to 60 points.

“It was just a difficult night for us all the way around,” Busch said after the battle concluded here tonight.  “We were playing catch-up all race due to the two pit-road penalties (speeding).  We finally made it up to 10th in the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge with less than 100 laps to go, but had our worst pit stop of the night under the last caution and lost six spots back to 16th.   We went with an adjustment (wedge) that made it just too tight to advance any more after that.  We just had to dig extra hard to hold on to what we had.  It certainly wasn’t the night we expected to have here at Bristol.”

While Busch had his problems tonight here in the Penske Racing “Double Deuce” Dodge, teammate Brad Keselowski’s recent hot streak got burning red as he put the Miller Lite “Blue Deuce” Dodge in Victory Lane here tonight.  The 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion has been on a roll that boasts two wins, a second and a third in the last four races.  He has moved up 12 spots in the points in the last five races and is now 11th in the standings.

Busch started tonight’s race from the 10th spot.  He was up to seventh before pitting under the first caution of the race on Lap 34 to work on a “tight in center and loose off” condition.  He was 13th on the restart and was up to seventh when the second yellow of the race flew on Lap 103 for debris.

His 13.124-second stop appeared to allow Busch to maintain his position.  However, after getting slapped with a speeding penalty while exiting pit road, he was relegated to the 27th spot for the restart.    Busch was still fighting the tight condition in the center of the turns and his Steve Addington-led team used air pressure and track bar adjustments to address the situation.

Busch was 24th on the Lap 135 restart after the third caution of the race and had climbed back up to 13th on Lap 156.  The first round of green-flag pit stops cycled around on Lap 253, with Busch still running 13th and 4.3 seconds in front of the leader.

The “Double Deuce” was back up to 10th when the fourth caution of the race came out for a three-car crash on Lap 305.  Unfortunately for Busch, he got tagged again for speeding on exiting the pits and was sent to the tail end of the field for the Lap 310 restart.

Busch was 18th on the Lap 310 restart and had climbed to 14th on Lap 368.  Busch continued his charge back up through the field and got around Denny Hamlin for 10th on Lap 409.  Kyle Busch got into the No. 32 car on Lap 413 to bring out the sixth caution flag of the night.

The “Double-Deuce” Dodge hit pit road for the final time on Lap 415 for four tires and a wedge adjustment.  The 15.855-second pit stop saw Busch fall to 16th for the Lap 420 restart.  There were still 23 cars remaining on the lead lap.  Busch fell one spot to 17th on Lap 422 and battled the remainder of the race to maintain that position.

Keselowski led the final 80 laps here tonight and emerged with a 0.951-second win over runner-up Martin Truex Jr. to score his third win of the season and fourth of his young Cup career.  Jeff Gordon finished third, with Jimmie Johnson fourth and Jamie McMurray fifth.  Matt Kenseth, Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Rounding out the top-20 drivers and completing those drivers completing all 500 laps here tonight were Kasey Kahne, A,J, Allmendinger, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch (17th) Regan Smith, Juan Pablo Montoya and David Ragan.

After 24 races have been put into the 2011 record book, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are at the top of the point standings with 830 points each.  Kenseth is up to third and 32 points back, with Edwards fourth (-35) and Kevin Harvick fifth (-48).  Gordon is sixth (-48), with Newman seventh (-68), Kurt Busch eighth (740 points & -81 to first), Earnhardt ninth (-102) and Tony Stewart 10th (-120).

Keselowski is up to 11th in the standings.  With 689 points, the Miller Lite Dodge driver is 141 points out of the lead, but trails 10th-place Stewart by only 21 points.

The Sprint Cup tour now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the annual Labor Day Weekend visit to that lightning-fast 1.54-mile track.  This weekend’s action at Atlanta Motor Speedway gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 6:00 p.m. till 7:20 p.m.  The final practice for the Sprint Cup cars is set from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. on Saturday (live on SPEED).  Sunday night’s 43-car starting field will be determined in Saturday’s 5:10 p.m. single round of Cup qualifying (live on ESPN2).  Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 (325 laps, 500.5 miles) Sprint Cup race has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and PRN Radio presenting live coverage.