Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-757" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge this weekend at Kansas. This chassis has been raced only once before; in the July 31 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch qualified fourth in this car, ran in the top 10 most of the race, but was caught up in an incident with 40 laps remaining and relegated to a 21st-place finish. "This is a sister car to our ‘758' that we won Dover with last weekend," said crew chief Addington. "Since the last time out, we've gone back and completely redone this car with our latest stuff. It'll be a good car for Kansas and we can't wait to get back out there. We're heading in there with the attitude that we have some unfinished business to take care of this time around."
Kurt Busch is tied for third (with Tony Stewart) in the Chase Sprint Cup point standings. With 2,113 points, he trails leaders Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards by nine points. He is four points ahead of fifth-place Jimmie Johnson and five points ahead of sixth-place Brad Keselowski. After 29 races, his record boasts two wins, eight top-five finishes and 16 top-10s. He has claimed three Coors Light Pole Awards. He has led a total of 706 laps, spread out among 57 occasions in 17 of the races. He has completed 99.395 percent (8,328 of 8,433) of possible laps. He has an 11.586 average start and a 12.552 average finish with two DNFs.
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KANSAS CITY, Kansas (October 4, 2011) - To say that Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch has been looking forward to the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour's return to Kansas Speedway for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 would be a huge understatement. The 2004 series champ and driver of Penske Racing's "Double-Deuce" Dodge Charger has been counting down the days since the last visit there for the June 5 AAA 400.
"Now that one was definitely a big heartbreaker," said Busch, who advanced all the way up to a tie for third in the series' point standings after a huge victory at Dover last Sunday. "Kansas had always been a track where we just never could put it together and come out of there with a solid run and finish. It was one of the couple of tracks that we'd never finished in the top-five and we still haven't (the others are Chicagoland and Kentucky).
"I don't know what it is about the Kansas track," said Busch, who had led only 81 laps total in his 10 races prior to the June race. "The year that I won the championship, I finished sixth and that had been the highlight so far. It's a flat mile-and-a-half that reminds me of Las Vegas when it was built and flat. It's just a tough combination. If you're just a tick off, you feel like you play catch-up most of the weekend and if you unload fast, you're tough to chase down.
"But this time, it just seemed like the moon and stars had all lined up right and we had everything going right for us," said Busch. "We won the Coors Light Pole, led the most laps (four times for 152 laps) and had the win in hand until we had to hit pit road for fuel with nine laps to go. We were still going to get a strong top-five out of the day, but when I left pit road and hit the banking, the fuel pickup didn't get the added fuel and I had to hit the apron to get it going again. We had been having problems with the fueling system during much of that race. Having to hit the apron and get the fuel flow going again cost us another five or six spots as we headed to the finish.
"Like I have been saying since we left there back in June - man, all I hope for is that we can be that strong again at Kansas this weekend," said Busch. "All we want is another shot at the win like we had there in June."
In the June race weekend, Busch had struggled during practice, turning in only the 35th-fastest lap. With his showing during practice, Busch was the fifth driver to make his attempt.
But he used the early qualifying spot to his advantage, claiming the Coors Light Pole Award with a fast qualifying lap of 30.901 seconds (174.752 mph). Busch did start the June race from the pole, but a tight handling condition saw him drift backwards from the drop of the green flag. He fell back as far as fifth before his car's handling started coming around. He was able to mount a charge back up to take the lead on Lap 18.
Busch fought minimum chassis evils for the remainder of the race, with slight air pressure and wedge adjustments keeping his new "PRS-754" Dodge Charger competitive all race long.
Hampering Busch, crew chief Steve Addington and the "Double Deuce" team for much of the race was a flaw in their dry-break fueling system. The team first discovered the problem during a 16.548-second pit stop on Lap 45. NASCAR mandates teams to run a special plastic decal around their fueling plug-in area. While the tire-changing procedures on stops went smoothly, the time on pit road was lengthened due to plastic impeding the flow of fuel. Gasman Chris Williams was finally able to clear the plastic midway through the race.
Busch fell back as far as eighth in the running order because of the fueling problem slowing the pit stops. But after restarting third after the fourth caution period on lap 157, Busch dove under Denny Hamlin to take the lead on Lap 160 and appeared unstoppable. He enjoyed a comfortable 2.022 second lead over second-place Jeff Gordon on Lap 222 (with 45 laps remaining), but that's when the fuel mileage question came into play. With the final restart coming on Lap 166, that meant that more than 100 of the final laps were run under the green and created a mad scramble for the best fuel mileage at the end.
Busch had last pitted under the green on Lap 205. Several cars had opted to pit on the prior caution on Lap 161; seven laps after Busch had pitted and chose to stay out as the leader.
That set up two sequences of stops during the waning laps. After Busch pitted on Lap 205, it wasn't until Lap 216 that the stops cycled around to show the No. 22 back into the lead. Busch had stretched his lead to 4.302 seconds over second-place Gordon with 22 laps remaining when Gordon hit pit road for two tires and fuel.
At Lap 255, with 12 laps remaining, Busch was leading with teammate Keselowski (who had pitted on Lap 210 and was nursing his fuel mileage) running second. Crew chief Addington called Busch down pit road on Lap 258 for right-side tires and fuel. The quick stop was nullified when Busch returned to the track and the fuel pickup failed to devour the new supply of gas. Busch temporarily slowed and had to hit the apron to get his Dodge back up to power. The time lost was later calculated as the difference between a potential third-place finish and the ninth that Busch was credited with.
"It was just a real downer for us the way things turned out," said Busch. "We wanted to win the AAA-sponsored race in the AAA Dodge so badly," said Busch. "But when the sting finally wore off, we came out of there proud of being so dominant and having the strongest car there that day. We're just hoping we can be that strong in our return there this weekend."
This weekend's schedule at Kansas Speedway begins on Friday with practice from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. local time. Friday's 4:10 p.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday's 43-car starting field. Saturday's schedule calls for morning practice from 11:30 a.m. till 12:15 p.m. and the final "Happy Hour" practice session from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday's Hollywoood Casino 400 (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. CDT (2:00 p.m. EDT) starting time and features live coverage by ESPN-TV and MRN Radio.
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