"We certainly got our big wish here overnight," Busch said after returning to the garage this morning from a Dodge autograph session. "We were looking at the weather forecast before and after practice yesterday and thought it'd be really great if we had some productive practice sessions in race trim and then have the rain come and wash out qualifying.
"We almost never qualify well here, but we seem to always be strong in the races," said Busch, whose sixth-place start in this race will be only his fourth top-10 start in 18 career races here. "We were pretty strong yesterday - fifth-fastest on the speed chart in the final practice - and we were so pleased with our Miller Lite Dodge that we parked our car early and called it a day."
Although winless in his 17 career starts here on this mammoth 2.66-mile track, Busch has recorded six top?five finishes and 12 top?10 finishes. He finished third in his very first visit here back in April 2001 and has added three additional third-place finishes since. Busch's 12.1 average finish here is the best of all drivers.
"We feel good about our chances and we'll also get a good pit selection that'll go with the sixth-place starting spot," said Busch. "We've been so close to winning one of these things (restrictor-plate races) and maybe we can finally pull it off here on Sunday." (Crew Chief Pat Tryson selected pit spot No. 28 for Sunday's race. There is an opening behind that pit box and the John Andretti team will be pitting in front.)
With the rain prevailing, the starting field was set by the NASCAR rule book. That will see points-leader Jimmie Johnson starting from the Coors Light Pole Position, with Mark Martin starting on the outside of the front row. Jeff Gordon will start third, with Tony Stewart fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya fifth. Busch, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers round out the top-12 starters.
Busch's Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish, Jr., and David Stremme will start 27th and 30th, respectively.
Sunday's AMP Energy 500 (188 laps, 500.08 miles) has a 12:00 noon CST (1:00 p.m. EST) starting time and features live coverage by ABC?TV and MRN Radio.