HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 3, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway from the 10th position after turning in a lap of 29.915 seconds (185.325 mph) in this afternoon’s qualifying session.
“That wasn’t a bad lap,” said Busch. “It was a good pick up from what we ran in practice. We took a stab at it with the setup and it turned out pretty well. Hopefully that will give us a good spot on pit road and we’ll go from there. We’ve really been scratching our heads when it comes to our race setup. We tried a ton of things out here in practice today and had a meeting of the minds with our teammates. We’re hoping to be close at the start of the race and have our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge adjustable enough that we can keep up with all the changing conditions during the race.”
Kasey Kahne picked up the Coors Light Pole Award here today with a fast lap of 29.775 seconds (186.196 mph). Clint Bowyer (lap of 29.819 seconds/185.922 mph) will start second, with Kyle Busch (29.833/185.841) third, Brian Vickers (29.843/185.772) fourth and Jeff Gordon (29.849/185.735) fifth. Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman completed the remainder of the top-10 starters.
Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski will start his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge from the 14th spot after turning in a qualifying lap of 29.949 seconds (185.115 mph).
Busch needs to be 49 points ahead of the driver holding down the 11th position in the standings when the dust settles after Atlanta’s race on Sunday night in order to clinch a spot in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Currently 60 points ahead of 11th-place Keselowski, Busch can guarantee a top-10 spot in the points (and earn a Chase berth) with at least a finish of seventh; or eighth and lead at least one lap; or ninth and lead the most laps.
“Accomplishing the first goal of the weekend at Atlanta is making the Chase again,” Busch said. “The bottom line is that we also have to look at the race as am opportunity to get another win and accumulate the bonus points for when the clock goes back to zero and the points are reset.”
“I’m really optimistic about what we can do here tomorrow night,” offered crew chief Steve Addington. “Everyone is paying a lot of attention to the weather forecast right now. That storm system may be moving in here faster than they originally thought it would. Regardless of when we get to run the race – and we certainly hope it is tomorrow night as scheduled – I think we’ll have something that we can be competitive with.”
Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 (325 laps, 500.5 miles) Sprint Cup race here at Atlanta Motor Speedway has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and PRN Radio presenting live coverage.