Kurt Busch Leads Penske Racing at Atlanta
October 27, 2008HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2008) - Kurt Busch led the charge for Penske Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway finishing sixth in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500, while teammates Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 16th and 24th respectively.
With adverse weather conditions once again taking their toll, cancelling NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Friday, Busch started from the 19th spot in Sunday's race. Once the green flag flew, Busch and his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team flexed their muscle on the 1.54-mile quad-oval. A daring outside move on Lap 40 saw Busch clear the cars of "Chasers" Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick, catapulting into the eighth spot. Busch wouldn't look back for the remainder of the race as he came home sixth to score his ninth top-10 result of the season. Busch is now up to 17th in the Cup Series point standings with three races remaining on the 2008 schedule.
"We felt like the run we had at Charlotte was a good place to start," Busch said of the chassis setup his team used in finishing a strong third at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Oct. 11. "We made changes based on the track being different here at Atlanta rather than Charlotte. All in all, that was the core setup. We polished on it from there. It was a really good run with the Miller Lite Dodge. We led laps; we were competitive. I think that's the key word that Roger Penske likes to use - we were competitive. No matter if we won or if we finished 10th, we had a good day today and brought it home in sixth."
Newman and the No. 12 Kodak Dodge team battled a loose-handling race car for more than half of the 325-lap event. Newman's loose car caused him to go one lap down early, but he and the No. 12 Kodak team kept working as they battled back onto the lead lap with just 27 laps remaining in the event. Newman mounted a charge in the final stages of the race, moving up as high as 12th, but he ultimately finished in 16th place. Newman is currently 16th in the Cup Series driver point standings.
"We struggled with the Kodak Dodge today," Newman said following the race. "We started the race just really loose. I don't think that I ever raced a looser race car than that in my life. I fell back a bit, got back on the lead lap and finished in the top 20. It was hard work and a team effort by everyone on the 12 team."
Hornish and the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge finished 24th on Sunday. A lap-three incident put the No. 77 team in an early-race deficit, but Hornish and the crew rallied to finish just two laps down to race winner Carl Edwards. After overcoming the early-race obstacle, Hornish secured a respectable result and was the top-finishing rookie driver for the third race in a row.
The No. 77 team remains 37th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner point standings, 130 points outside of the top 35.
"I'm really proud of this Mobil 1 team today," said Hornish. "I'm not really sure what happened there early in the race, but it's unfortunate because we had a good race car. We were able to fight back and get a decent finish and we gained more ground in the Rookie of the Year race. We'll stick with it and move forward next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway."
The Penske Racing trio returns to action next Sunday, November 2 for the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. The race can be seen live on ABC at 3 p.m. EDT and coverage on PRN Radio begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
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