Perseverance was the Name of the Game for Penske Racing at Atlanta

March 10, 2008

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 10, 2008) - Perseverance was the name of the game for Penske Racing drivers Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday in the Kobalt Tools 500.  Busch, after going a lap down 30 laps into the 325-mile race, was aided by great pit work from his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge crew and pulled out an 11th-place finish. Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, fought back from an on-track incident late in the running to score his second consecutive 14th-place NASCAR Cup finish. Battling a loose-handling racecar for most of the race, Sam Hornish Jr. and the No. 77 Penske Truck Rental team emerged as the top-finishing rookie, posting an impressive 25th-place result.

Busch started Sunday¿s race from the 29th spot and has now climbed back up to 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points.

 "The tires just made it more of a handful," Busch said after the race.  "It was a long race for us. We were very, very loose at the beginning. We were probably 20th with the lap down cars, so we were in our own race for three-quarters of the race. When we did get the lucky dog, it was green to the end, so we had a tough time catching up. We did grab two extra spots at the end as we continued to battle. I don¿t think we could have finished any higher. We worked really hard for 11th and it feels good.

"With the way this car ran in practice, qualifying and the first part of today¿s race, we have to be pretty pleased with that finish," Busch said. "The most promising thing is that we continuously adjusted on the car and had it running the best it did all day long at the end of the race. Maybe it's an indication that we¿re making some headway in getting a grasp for this new car."
"We got a little bit behind there on the last restart, but Kurt raced his heart out during the entire race and particularly there at the end when he passed Bobby Labonte and Jimmie Johnson for finishing spots," Tryson said.  "We struggled here ever since we unloaded on Friday. I'm proud of Kurt and everybody on our team for hanging in there and not giving up.

"For us to come out of here with an 11th-place finish and to be the highest-finishing Dodge was pretty impressive I'd say,¿ Tryson added.  "Heck yeah, we'll take it, be pleased with it and go on and get ready to go to Kurt's favorite track, Bristol, next weekend."

Newman started the Kobalt Tools 500 in 12th place on Sunday afternoon.  With his fourth top-15 finish in four races this season, Newman is sitting fourth in the NASCAR Cup point standings, just three points out of third place.

Newman looked to be headed for a top-five result late in the race before an on-track incident took him out of contention. The incident occurred approximately 100 laps from the finish when Newman was running in fifth place. Juan Pablo Montoya (driver of the No. 42 Dodge) shot up the track on lap 226 and into Newman¿s left fender. Newman was able to avoid hitting the outside wall, but the contact to the left side of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge created a severe tire rub, forcing Newman to give up his top-five spot in the running order to pit under green in order to fix the problem. Newman lost a lap to the leaders due to the unscheduled pit stop. Although he was unable to get that lap back in the closing stages of the race, Newman fought to a 14th-place result. The No. 12 finished as the first car one lap down to the leaders.

"We had a good a car ¿ a top-10 car most of the day. Montoya couldn¿t hold the steering wheel straight going down the back straightaway and drove up into me and knocked my fender in," Newman said. "We had to pit ¿ we had a tire rub ¿ it¿s unfortunate that we couldn¿t get a yellow late in the race to get on the lead lap.

"I¿m positive that our Alltel Dodge Charger was better than 14th - I guarantee you that."

Despite the frustration of being taken out of contention for a top-five finish, Newman did not waver. In the closing laps of the race, he battled back to the 14th spot and was the first car one lap down, but he was never able to get a caution flag which would have put him back on the lead lap.

"Thanks for hanging in there," McCauley told Newman following the race. "We had a tough break today."

Hornish Jr. started 33rd and, as the No. 77 team worked to improve the car¿s handling throughout the race, he improved to 25th at the checkered flag. With his finish, he currently ranks 36th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season point standings, second in the Rookie-of-the-year standings, and the No. 77 team is now ranked 36th in the owner standings, just 18 points outside of the top 35.

The Penske Racing trio returns to action next weekend at the famed Bristol Motor Speedway in what¿s expected to be an action-packed Food City 500. The race will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on PRN Radio at 2:00 p.m. EDT.