"It was a solid top-15 car for our Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge Charger at a track that has been tough for me through the years," Busch offered after the race. "But with so many of the Chase guys finishing in front of us, it certainly wasn't the type of day that we really needed out there.
"We just fought a loose race car most of the day," said Busch. "I had a handful of steering wheel most of the day and just did whatever I could to stay up with the leaders. This is a tricky mile-and-a-half that's different from most others that we race on. Steve (Addington, crew chief) tried all kinds of adjustments including a right-rear spring rubber and wedge adjustments trying to help our overall balance.
"We stayed inside the top 10 for most of the race, but just couldn't gain the track position we needed late. Once the track rubbered-in, our car got tight in the middle of the corners and was tough to drive. Big picture is that we still only sit 70 points back from the leader heading to two of my favorite tracks - California and Charlotte. We'll move on, put this one behind us, head to Fontana and get ready for next weekend."
Busch started ninth and ran as high as third. After trying to address the loose handling condition with air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments with little success, Addington called for the spring rubber insertion during a pit stop under the caution with 100 laps to go. That dropped Busch back to 16th in the running order for the restart.
Only one additional caution slowed the pace for the balance of the race. Busch managed to climb back up into the top 10 with 60 laps remaining, but after the final round of green flag stops cycled around with 30 laps to go, Busch was 13th. He had to engage in a spirited battle with Mark Martin at the end of the race to claim the 13th finishing position.
Up front, it was Greg Biffle taking the victory by 7.638 seconds over runner-up Johnson, who started 21st and was never a factor until the final third of today's race. Kevin Harvick finished third, with Tony Stewart fourth and Jeff Gordon fifth. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out today's top-10 finishers.
Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Busch, Martin and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 15. Kyle Busch was involved in two separate incidents with David Reutimann and finished a lap down in 21st. Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 23rd and 36th, respectively.
Johnson, after winning last week at Dover and finishing second on Sunday, took over the points lead from Hamlin by eight points (5,503 to 5,495). Harvick is third (with 5,473 points), Edwards fourth (5,450), Gordon fifth (5,445) and Kurt Busch sixth (5,433). With seven races remaining in the Chase, Kurt Busch is now 70 points out of first, 62 points out of second and 40 points out of third. He is 17 points out of fourth and 12 out of fifth. He leads seventh-place (Kyle Busch) by 10 points.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour now heads out to Fontana, Calif., for the fourth race of the 2010 Chase. Next weekend's schedule at Auto Club Speedway begins on Friday with practice from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. PDT. Friday's 3:40 p.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday's 43-car starting field. Saturday's schedule offers practice sessions from 10:30 a.m. till 11:15 a.m. and from 11:50 a.m. till 12:50 p.m. Sunday's Pepsi 500 (250 Laps, 500 miles) has a scheduled 12:00 noon PDT starting time and features live coverage by ESPN-TV and MRN Radio.