Busch Scores Seventh-Place Finish at Daytona
July 4, 2010DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2010) - In something akin to a scene in the movie, "Days of Thunder," Miller Lite driver Kurt Busch drove what was left of his Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" Dodge back into the garage area after finishing seventh in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Sparks were flying as Busch maneuvered his mangled machine back to the team transporter, albeit that he was only on three wheels. Such was the night for the 2004 series champion as he posted his 11th top-10 finish of the 2010 Sprint Cup season and climbed up to fourth in the series point standings after 18 races.
"Carl (Edwards) turned right after the start-finish line and completely destroyed our car," Busch said of his run-in after the final green-white-checkered flag finish. "We've seen him turn right before and destroy a Penske car at Atlanta with my teammate Brad Keselowski. It's what it is. We could have limped home in seventh and not damaged like that. That was unnecessary.
"It gets tough at the end of these races," Busch said of the event, started almost two hours late because of rain and slowed by nine cautions and one red-flag period. "They're more like a crap shoot. You never know when your number is going to get pulled. I had a good run down the back straightaway, but not enough on Jeff Burton. I gave him two moves, he gave me two blocks. I lifted and got tapped from behind and got loose, that's when that big wreck all got started. One guy checks up and everybody comes in and piles on. And then I got tapped coming off Turn 4 running in the high grove. (Clint) Bowyer spun right in front of me at the end. I didn't touch him.
"There's just action everywhere at the end of these races," Busch said of the race that saw only 17 of 43 starters complete all 166 laps in the overtime battle. "It's Daytona. The asphalt is old. The tires have no grip. People are going to be sliding around. When it comes down to 40 to go, that's when it amps up. You could see it in everybody's eyes, they wanted to win. It was a good hard-fought battle all night for our guys, my team and this Miller Lite Dodge program. To bring it home seventh, that's all right, but we've got a damaged car and that's not good. These restrictor plate cars, there's a lot of work that go into them."
Busch started sixth in tonight's race and was a fixture among the top 10 for much of the dramatic battle. He took the lead for the first of what would be three times (for a toal of 14 laps) on lap 29. Superb pit work by the "Blue Deuce" over-the-wall gang, featuring an incredible 11.820-second stop that sent Busch back out as the leader for the restart with 19 laps to go, helped keep the team "in the hunt" during the entire race.
Tonight's impressive run saw Busch survive several hairy incidents. On lap 148, Kasey Kahne got into the rear bumper of Busch's Dodge, triggering the biggest crash of the night when Busch was pushed into Jeff Burton's Chevy. Burton got out of shape and the cars behind were like ping-pong balls bouncing off the wall and into each other. Busch spun down onto the apron and had to hit pit road to repair damage to the front end splitter and the right-rear quarter panel.
Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. made contact with Busch and then crashed nose-first into the outside wall before the white flag had flown to bring out the ninth yellow flag of the race and send the event into overtime.
Damage done to the Miller Lite Dodge during the incident forced crew chief Steve Addington to call Busch to pit road for a final time before the green flag was flown again. Repairs were made and Busch had four fresh Goodyear Tires for the restart. Busch was 16th when the green flag flew, yet charged all the way up to finish seventh before Edwards' move after the checkers sent Busch hard into the outside wall and forced him to limp back to the garage with only three wheels operating.
"We had a great Miller Lite Dodge tonight," Addington said. "I thought that we had a shot at winning this thing, but circumstances at this place just kill you. You can't control what other people do here. Kurt (Busch) drove a great race and hung in there all night for us. He led laps, got shuffled back when we had to pit twice, but he still was able to overcome it. We came back from the rear like four or five times. Kurt was really patient all night and beat some tough adversity during the race. I'm proud of this Miller Lite team for digging in and bringing home a seventh-place finish. So much happened the last 20 laps that a top-10 finish could have ended a lot worse if we would have got caught up in other people's mess. I'm proud of everyone at Penske Racing."
At the line, it was Kevin Harvick taking the win by 0.092 seconds over Kahne. Jeff Gordon finished third, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Burton fifth. Edwards was sixth, with Busch seventh, Reed Sorenson eighth, Mike Bliss ninth and Scott Speed 10th.
Busch moved up to fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings after tonight's finish. With 2,439 points, he trails leader Harvick by 245 points, but is only 33 points behind second-place Gordon and 20 points behind third-place Jimmie Johnson. He now enjoys a 308-point "buffer" over 13th-place Mark Martin in the standings with eight races to determine the 12 Chase drivers gunning for the 2010 series championship.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now returns to the intermediate tracks as the tour moves on to Chicagoland Speedway for the 19th of 36 points-paying races. Next weekend's action at Chicagoland Speedway gets under way on Friday with practice scheduled from 11:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m. Friday's final practice session is set from 2:15 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. Friday's 5:05 p.m. single round of qualifying will establish Saturday night's 43-car starting field. Saturday's LifeLock.com 400 (267 laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 6:30 p.m. CDT (7:30 p.m. EDT) starting time and features live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.
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