FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 8, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch won Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in dramatic fashion. As a result, he picked up a $1 million bonus for a lucky fan and a $10,000 bonus for Operation Homefront. Busch's second win of the 2009 season boosted him up to fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.
"It's unbelievable here tonight," Busch said in Victory Lane of his 20th career Sprint Cup victory and first at T.M.S. "I'm proud of our team and everybody pulling together hard. Racing my little brother head to head for the win is bitter sweet. I was rooting for him, but at the same time, we wanted to put our Miller Lite Dodge in Victory Lane. We raced hard. It was cat and mouse on those restarts. Then it came down to the crew chief, Pat (Tryson) putting in the right calls and getting us the fuel mileage to bring it home.
"A full team effort all the way around," Busch said of the win when he met the media in the post-race winner's interview. "From the pits stops to pit strategy to the guys back in the shop building a fast race car that I was a little apprehensive to bring to the race track. It shows what I know and what they know. Just keep me in the car and let them do the engineering. And in the end, this makes a real solid team. We were well rounded tonight with power, downforce, handling, and in the end, strategy is what played out for us to come out on top. A small bit of fuel mileage we had to play, but it wasn't very much. For us, just one lap shy (of making it to the end). Our Dodge (R6) engine gave us the fuel mileage we needed to come out on top of everybody."
Busch started Sunday's race from the third position and was a fixture among the top five during the entire 334-lap contest. He was up to second on lap 3, when three-time champion and current points leader Jimmie Johnson crashed to bring out the first caution period of the race.
Busch got around pole-winner Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 12. Kurt's younger brother, Kyle, was up to second on lap 19 and that set the stage for the dramatic sibling battle to the finish. The brothers from Las Vegas went on to lead all but 13 of the laps.
After five caution flags had flown for a total of 26 laps earlier in the race, the final 121 circuits were run completely caution-free. Crew chief Tryson and team engineer Dave Winston were already on top of a potential fuel mileage situation long before it became apparent. When Busch pitted for the last time under caution on lap 207, Tryson was on the team radio urging his driver to start looking at conserving fuel.
Kyle Busch had built up a lead as large as five seconds before having to hit pit road under the green on lap 269 for four tires and fuel. Tryson coached the elder Busch to get another few laps out of his fuel supply before the "Blue Deuce" hit pit road on lap 271. The 14.6-second stop saw fuel man Chris Williams spend all the time necessary to pack the tank.
When the stops had cycled around, the younger Busch held the lead, with David Reutimann second, Matt Kenseth third, Mark Martin fourth and Kurt Busch fifth. The "2-car" had cleared Martin for fourth on lap 300, but still trailed the leader by five seconds. He got around Kenseth for third on lap 305 and he cleared Reutimann for second on lap 320.
"Don't worry about the 18 car," Tryson said to his driver on the team radio when there were 13 laps remaining. "He's three laps short. Run your race. We're about a lap short and if you can save us some fuel, we'll win this thing.
"Nobody's coming from behind; it's all clear," chimed in spotter Chris Osborne. "It's all up to you. We know you can do it."
Tryson was right on the money with his prediction as lead lap cars began having to pit for fuel during the final 10 laps. When Kyle Busch's Toyota started sputtering as he was shy on fuel, he was forced to hit pit road on lap 331. Kurt Busch and his Miller Lite Dodge picked up the lead on lap 332 and he was able to cruise on to a 25.686-second victory over runner-up Denny Hamlin.
Kenseth finished third, with Martin fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth. Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-10 finishers. Kyle Busch was credited with an 11th-place finish.
"It's fun having a sibling out there to race with and to challenge," Busch said in the media center following the big win. "For us to do it at this top level, there's just so many emotions that go with it. For him to be going for the sweep this weekend, winning the Truck and Nationwide race, for our car to be competitive, for him to be competitive, it's that thought that you have as a young teenager growing up in racing. I see my little brother, my dad is helping us out a lot. Maybe we'll make it to the top level one day and be able to race each other for a win. It wasn't quite the door to door, nose to tail, fender banging, 'green white checkered' like we would have hoped, but it came down to strategy and it came down to who could persevere with their team. Right now, with the way that we're situated, it's bitter sweet because, hey, Pat is leaving. We wish that we could stick together. We want to get the best we can out of these last few races. It's bitter sweet to beat Kyle. He was going for the sweep. We took it away from him. I don't think he could have picked a better driver to lose to tonight. So it's fun (smiling). It's really fun. We race each other to the bone, but we pat each other on the back at the end of the day."
Brad Keselowski finished 35th in his debut behind the wheel of the No. 12 Penske Dodge, while Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. finished 40th.
Busch's win garnered $1 million for a lucky race fan, Michael McGee. McGee, an agricultural teacher and horse training business owner who had been named the 2009 Dickies American Worker of the Year, turned his $50,000 prize into $1 million with his selection of Busch to win the Dickies 500.
The victory also added a $10,000 bonus donation to Operation Homefront. The Texas race concluded a special five-race promotion with the organization that helps troops in need. Busch's new "PRS-702" Miller Lite Dodge was adorned with a unique
Operation Homefront color scheme for this race and the representatives of the organization, along with several soldiers, celebrated the win with Busch in Victory Lane.
"That was really cool to have our Operation Homefront friends with us here today," Busch said. "The program working with those guys has been very enjoyable and gratifying. I'm sure