Kurt Busch Leads Penske Racing at Lowe's
October 13, 2008CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2008) - Penske Racing drivers Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. finished third, 21st and 22nd respectively in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
After adverse weather forced officials to cancel qualifying on Thursday, No. 2 Miller Lite driver Busch started the race from the 19th spot. Despite fighting a tight-handling Dodge for most of the early portion of the race, he made progress and cracked the top 10 after a quick stop by the Miller Lite crew under the fourth caution period. Tire-changing strategy, quick pit work by Busch's Pat Tryson-led crew, coaching by team owner Roger Penske and a display of championship-caliber driving skills kept Busch in the mix for the remainder of the race. Busch maintains the 18th position in driver points with five races remaining in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series season.
"Man, we had a good run and I'm real surprised by it," Busch said immediately after the race. "We mixed the 77 setup with the 12. It feels real good to have team communication and bring all this together. This is the first time for the new engine, the R6 in the top five. We were pushing hard trying to get numbers on it (the new engine) for next year. It feels really good for all of our sponsors, Mobil 1, Dodge and especially Miller Lite."
Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge team battled a loose-handling race car for most of the Saturday night race, despite leading 10 laps and running in the top 15 for a large majority of the night. An untimely caution with 80 laps remaining in the race led to Newman falling one lap down, which he could not make up, and he ended the night in 21st place. Newman is currently 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings, 392 points out of 13th spot.
"It was not the night we had hoped for with our Alltel Dodge," Newman said after the race. "The car started out loose and it got looser and looser throughout the night. We just never got the handle on it that we needed to in order to get a good finish tonight."
Hornish and the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge finished the Bank of America 500 in 22nd place after starting from the rear of the field due to the team's use of a backup car. The Mobil 1 team worked methodically to improve the balance of the car throughout a race filled with obstacles, resulting in the team's best finish in eight weeks. For his performance, Hornish received "Rookie of the Race" honors after finishing one spot in front of fellow series newcomer Regan Smith.
"The Mobil 1 Dodge was pretty good most of the night," said Hornish at the conclusion of the 334-lap event. "I sped on pit lane and that killed us. If I hadn't have done that we would have probably been able to be on the lead lap and running in the top-15. It was a good night, though. All the guys on the team worked really hard. We came back and did what we needed to do after we were already in trouble. We're now learning how to do that better."
The Penske Racing trio returns to action next Sunday, October 19 for the Tums QuikPak at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. The race can be seen live on ABC at 1 p.m. EDT and coverage on MRN Radio begins at 12:45 p.m. EDT.
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