"We're looking forward to returning to the intermediate tracks this weekend and especially to Texas Motor Speedway," said Busch, whose career record on the 1.5-mile Fort Worth speed plant boasts eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts. "It's not the situation we had hoped for as far as the big picture goes this time around, but there's still a lot on the line and much to try to accomplish.
"We were hoping to be up there battling it out for the championship, but with only three races remaining this season and being at such a deficit, we're heading into Texas focused on trying to win races before the year is over," said Busch, who now trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 312 points with only the races at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami remaining in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. "We realistically can climb several spots in the standings during the final weeks, but the big emphasis will be placed on doing what it takes to add to our race win column for the season."
Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Penske Racing crew will be debuting their new "PRS-702" Miller Lite Dodge Charger this weekend at Texas. The car will be adorned with a unique color scheme supporting Operation Homefront, the organization that helps troops in need. In addition, Busch will be racing to earn additional funds for Operation Homefront in Sunday's 334-lap, 501-mile battle around the 1.5-mile TMS quad-oval track.
"This is the third of the latest generation of race cars to come out of our Penske Racing shop," said team engineer Dave Winston. "We've had quite a bit of success so far with these cars and we're certainly hoping for much of the same with our ‘702 chassis' this weekend at Texas." Busch and team debuted their "PRS-700" in the Sept. 27 race at Dover, Del., where they started 16th and finished fifth. They brought their new "PRS-701" out for the Oct. 11 race in Fontana, Calif., where they started 24th and finished eighth.
"The program working with our friends at Operation Homefront has been very enjoyable and gratifying, but we still have some work to get done this weekend," said Busch of the five-race promotion that began with the Kansas race and concludes with this weekend's special Texas Veteran's Day salute. "Miller Lite launched the fundraising campaign by making a $200,000 donation to the cause and we've been attempting to add to that total in each of those five races. We were able to score a $10,000 bonus in the Charlotte race (Oct. 17 NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway) and we're looking to taste greatness again this weekend at Texas by recording another top-10 finish and adding another $10,000 to the fundraising effort."
Busch has also been urging fans to help in this worthy cause. There are several ways to participate. To make a $5 donation, just text the word T-R-O-O-P-S to 90999. The charge will appear on your wireless bill. Alternatively, visit millerlite.com/vets to make a donation and learn more about the great work of Operation Homefront. Fans attending this weekend's race at Texas Motor Speedway can contribute to Operation Homefront by purchasing a "postcard" from the Kurt Busch (or Penske Racing). Fans will be able to inscribe the card with a personalized message to a serviceman or woman overseas. Penske Racing will submit the cards and 100% of the proceeds collected to OHF and the cards will be included in care packages sent directly overseas.
"We've really shown the spark we need on the intermediate tracks so far this season and we hope to continue that at Texas this weekend," said Busch, currently sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, trailing leader Johnson by 312 points, but now 128 points behind second-place Mark Martin, 120 points behind third-place Jeff Gordon, 73 points behind fourth-place Juan Pablo Montoya and 33 points behind fifth-place Tony Stewart. "We had the big win back in the spring at Atlanta and have run consistently in the top-10 in most of those tracks. The guys have been putting some great race cars out there, Dave Winston and the engineering department have made so much progress and the new Dodge engines have had plenty of power in those races.
"We finished eighth in the spring race at Texas and have some pretty good notes to go on entering this weekend," said Busch. "We were at our best during the long runs there in the April race and were able to make small adjustments throughout the day that our car responded fairly well to. We're looking to continue to make our intermediate program stronger this weekend out there."
Friday's practice from 12:00 Noon till 1:30 p.m. (TV: ESPN2) kicks off this weekend's action at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's battle is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. local (live on ESPN2 and PRN Radio). Saturday's morning practice is scheduled from 8:45 a.m. till 9:30 a.m. and the final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. till 11:00 a.m. (TV: ESPN2). Sunday's Dickies 500 (334 laps, 501 miles) has a scheduled 2:15 p.m. local starting time on the 1.5-mile Dallas/Fort Worth Area speed plant. ABC-TV and PRN Radio (locally heard on KLLI-FM 105.3 FM) will provide live coverage of all the action.