Kurt Busch Relegated To 38th-Place Finish After Late-Race Crash At Vegas

March 3, 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch appeared to be on the way to pulling out yet another amazing comeback finish in today¿s UAW-Dodge 400 here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before a late-race crash relegated him to a 38th-place finish and dropped him to 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.

"Something broke¿something just broke," Busch radioed after his Dodge Charger had veered straight into the outside wall between Turns 3 and 4 on this treacherous 1.5-mile oval.  "I¿m okay, something just broke."

Busch's hometown track continued to not play favorable to the 2004 NASCAR champ in today¿s eighth visit by the elite stock car racing circuit here today.  After starting in the top 10 for every race, today¿s finish matched his worst to date, a 38th-place finish back in 2003, but it accounted for his first-ever DNF (did not finish) recorded here.

"I¿m just glad he¿s okay," said crew chief Pat Tryson after Busch returned to the garage after the mandatory post-crash trip to the infield medical center for a checkup.  "He took a really helluva' lick out there.  From what we saw on the video, he blew a right-front tire.  What we¿re trying to uncover is what, if anything mechanical, might have failed to have caused that to happen.

"There is a lot of the right-front portion of the car that is trashed, but we can still analyze the components such as the unbroken chassis parts and hopefully the shocks, A-frames and so forth," continued Tryson.  "To have come back from the lap down like we did and look like we were headed toward another decent finish, it¿s tough on us.  It¿s tough on Kurt and the whole team.

"Like I said, we¿re just so relieved that Kurt was not hurt," said Tryson.  "It¿s a testament as to how tough a guy he is and to how safe these cars are today.  We¿ll regroup and be ready to get after them again next week at Atlanta."

Even though Busch started today¿s race from the ninth spot ¿ much better than his 43rd at Daytona and his 36th last weekend at California ¿ Busch found himself in the usual position of having to come back from a lap down early in today¿s race.

After climbing as high as fourth in the running order, Busch was tagged with a speeding penalty during his first green-flag pit stop and was shown as a lap down when the stops had cycled around and the course had finally gone yellow again on Lap 70.  It wasn¿t until the seventh yellow of the day flew ¿ on Lap 215 for debris ¿ that he was able to pick up the ¿Lucky Dog¿ free pass and return to running on the lead lap.

Although numerous chassis adjustments on the "new model" race car never got the handling to his liking, Busch appeared to be on his way to a solid top-15 finish before the near catastrophe occurred after he had completed 255 laps.

The waning laps of today¿s race were filled with drama.  On the restart after Busch¿s crash, an altercation involving race win candidates Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon forced a red-flag situation after Gordon slammed hard into the backstretch wall on Lap 264. 

After the race returned to green, Carl Edwards was able to hold off runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 0.504 seconds to take his second Cup win in only seven days.  Greg Biffle finished third, with Kevin Harvick fourth and Jeff Burton fifth.  David Regan, Kasey Kahne, Travis Kvapil, Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin rounded out today¿s top-10 finishers.

"After what we went through today, I honestly was shocked when I saw that we didn¿t drop any further than we did in the points," said Tryson, after finding out that his driver still ranked 12th in the point standings after three races have been completed.  ¿That¿s quite amazing if you ask me.  Like I said, we¿ll bounce back last week at Atlanta.¿

With 348 points, Busch now trails leader Edwards (491 points) by 143 points.  Kyle Busch is second with 470 points, while Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman, who finished 14th here today, holds down the third spot with 450 points to his credit.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for next Sunday¿s running of the Kobalt Tools 500.  The 325-lap race around the 1.54-mile high-banked track has a 2:00 p.m. EST starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and PRN Radio.