Penske Racing

Kurt Busch Starting 38th In Season Finale At Homestead

November 14, 2008

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start 38th in Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008 season finale after turning in an official lap of 32.084 seconds (168.308 mph) in today's qualifying session.

"We're really disappointed with that, that's for sure," said Busch, who was third on the practice speed chart with a lap of 31.634 seconds. "We just didn't have any grip at all out there. We haven't won a pole this season and we were really going for it. We got in really hot down there in Turns 1 and 2, didn't have any grip and drifted on up into the fence.

"We scraped the Miller Lite logos right off the rear quarter-panel, but we didn't do any damage to the car; it was just cosmetic," said Busch. "We tried to gather it up and make something decent out of the second lap, but it just wasn't enough.

"We have a good race car and it's a shame that we'll have to start pretty much in a hole with the track position. We'll get our Miller Lite Dodge really dialed in here during Saturday's two practice sessions. We're already talking about some strategies we might use during the early part of the race in order to gain back some of the track position we lost by having to start the race way back there at the back."

Busch was one of the drivers having to deal with getting an early draw in the qualifying order, having to go out sixth. Several other top competitors, including teammate Ryan Newman (starts 29th), Jeff Gordon (starts 36th) and Jimmie Johnson (starts 30th) were also in that group.

David Reutimann was among the drivers on the other end of the order and he used it to his advantage. Going out 32nd of the 47 drivers and enjoying more cloud cover, Reutimann claimed his first career Cup pole position with his lap of 31.462 seconds (171.636 mph).

The Red Bull Toyota Teams switched drivers this weekend in their effort to get both cars into the starting field. Scott Speed enjoyed the security of having Brian Vickers' No. 83 owners points when he took to the track 34th in the order. He turned in a surprising lap of 31.494 seconds (171.461 mph) to take the outside-front-row starting spot.

Matt Kenseth (31.500 seconds/171.429 mph) starts third, with Carl Edwards (31.502 seconds/171.418 mph) fourth and Kevin Harvick (31.571 seconds/171.043 mph) fifth. David Ragan, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Reed Sorenson and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out today's top-10 qualifiers.

It wasn't a good day at the track for the Penske Racing Team drivers. Newman (who went out first after clocking in with the second-fastest practice lap) did earn the 29th starting spot with his lap of 31.900 seconds (169.379 mph). Rookie Sam Hornish Jr. was one of three drivers who did not make the starting field for Sunday's race. Not holding down a spot in the top-35 in car owner points, Hornish's lap of 32.072 seconds (168.371 mph) was not fast enough to make the field on speed. Max Papis and Ken Schrader were the other drivers not making Sunday's starting field.

The biggest news story of the day here at the track was NASCAR's announcement that testing at all sanctioned tracks holding Camping World Series events all the way up to Sprint Cup races would be banned, including all the pre-season testing historically held in Daytona in January.

"It's got pluses and minuses," said crew chief Pat Tryson. "Times are tough right now, so it's probably not that bad a thing for most people. Obviously, we'd like to be testing but at the same time, it (testing policy) is the same for everybody. I think it will be fair. It may make the racing better with nobody having the opportunity to test.
As far as Daytona goes, it's going to make it harder to pick a car. You'll have to use wind tunnel data to see which is your better car. Other than that, it will be the same old thing. We'll just be home a lot more than we are now."

Saturday's schedule here at Homestead-Miami Speedway includes a first practice that will go from 1:30 p.m. till 2:15 p.m. and the final "happy hour" practice session is on the card from 2:50 p.m. till 3:50 p.m. Sunday's Ford 400 (400 miles, 267 laps) has a scheduled 3:45 p.m. EST starting time here on this 1.5-mile speed plant located at the north end of the Florida Keys. ABC-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.

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