Kurt Busch Finishes 34th in 2011 NASCAR Finale
November 21, 2011
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch finished 34th in today’s Ford 400 season finale here at Homestead-Miami Speedway after driveshaft problems relegated the 2004 NASCAR champ to the garage area for lengthy repairs. With 2,262 points, Busch finished 11th in the final standings for the 2011 Sprint Cup campaign.
"I've never been so disappointed in my life,” Busch said immediately after the race. “I think I missed a race once during my rookie year and this almost tops that.”
“It looks like we broke a driveshaft and that just started a whole series of problems for us,” crew chief Steve Addington explained after the race of the Lap 3 dilemma that struck the “Double-Deuce” Penske Racing Dodge Team. “We thought we had the damage repaired just by replacing the transmission and driveshaft, but it turned out that shrapnel off the U-joint flew up and punctured the oil tank and we had to replace that, too. It was just a really tough way to end our season. All we could do was get it fixed and get back out there as quickly as we could.”
Busch was 47 laps down when he finally returned to the race. He was scored as last – 43rd on the field – when he returned to action. Enduring numerous chassis adjustments and two rain delays, Busch was credited with finishing 34th and completing 220 of the 267 laps -- meaning he never lost another lap after returning to the race.
“It was a sad night for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team, that’s for sure,” Busch said later after having time to reflect on the season. “But we can’t hold our heads down too long when you stop and think of the good fortune we had this year. We started off the season with an incredible Daytona Speed Weeks. We won out in Sonoma on the road course and won again on the ‘Monster Mile’ at Dover. We won three Coors Light Poles. We had eight top-fives and 16 top-10s. We have so much to build on for next season. We’ll go and have a good time in Vegas, take a little breather and then get back hard at it preparing for the 2012 season.”
Today’s battle to determine the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion came down to a two-man battle between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. It will be remembered as an epic contest that came down to the wire and was determined by a tie-breaker.
Edwards claimed the Coors Light Pole here yesterday and took the bonus point for leading the most (led six times for 119) laps during today’s race. However, Stewart was able to battle back from several obstacles to claim a 1.306-second win over runner-up Edwards. With Stewart and Edwards both ending the 36-race grind with 2,403 points each, Stewart’s five victories on the season was the deciding factor over Edwards, who had only one win.
The 40-year-old Stewart became the oldest driver to win the championship under the Chase format. He did not win a race during the “regular season” and claimed all five of his victories during the final 10-race Chase. It was a phenomenal run for the driver-owner, especially considering that Edwards posted an incredible 4.9 average finish during the final 10 races.
Martin Truex Jr. finished third here today, with Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton rounding out the top-10 finishers. Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski finished 20th after rolling the dice and having to hit pit road for a final time during the waning laps of the race.
Harvick finished third in the final points (with 2,345). Kenseth was fourth (2,330) and Keselowski (2,319) fifth. Jimmie Johnson (2,304), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2,290), Gordon (2,287), Hamlin (2,284) and Ryan Newman (2,284) rounded out the top 10. Kurt Busch (2,262) finished 11th, with Kyle Busch (2,246) 12th.
The Chase drivers will all be featured in several fan-friendly activities during “Champions Week” in Las Vegas two weeks from now, with the top-10 points drivers taking to the stage in the annual Sprint Cup Awards Banquet set for Friday, Dec. 2 at the Wynn.