Kurt Busch Climbs Two Spots in NSCS Point Standings

May 12, 2008

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 10, 2008) - In Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500 at the 1.366-mile Darlington Raceway, Penske Racing driver Kurt Busch climbed two spots in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings with his 12th place finish in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge while teammates Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 37th and 38th, respectively.

No. 2 Miller Lite driver Busch started fifth and ran among the top-five for much of the 367-lap event, but mechanical problems with the right-front suspension caused a long pit stop with less than 100 laps remaining. The end result saw Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champ, climb to 22nd in the 2008 driver point standings and, most importantly, close the distance to 12th place - and Chase eligibility - from 222 points to 194 points.

"The Miller Lite team did a great job tonight," Busch said, appearing relieved to bounce back from a five-race streak of finishing no better than 23rd. "The Charlotte test paid dividends. With this right sides being the same as Charlotte here at Darlington, we just kept the same frame of mind for four days straight which really helped us. It will be nice to do that again at the All-Star race and the (Coca-Cola) 600 and try to stick with the same tire and give our team some continuity and hopefully we'll benefit from it."

"It was definitely a bittersweet run for us here tonight," said Miller Lite team crew chief Pat Tryson. "It was definitely gratifying to see us up there running competitively again and Kurt raced his tail end off. The bad thing is that we had at worst a top-five car and we didn't get the finish we deserved. We fell back as far as 20th or so and Kurt raced his guts out to get back up there to 12th."

Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge team started 32nd and endured a frustrating night at Darlington Raceway as a broken rear end at lap 238 caused Newman to spin under the caution and hit the wall. Newman drove his Alltel Dodge to the infield garage area for significant repairs and was able to return to the race track and finish the race 73 laps down.

"It was just a disappointing night for the Alltel Dodge," Newman said. "We had problems throughout the race, and it ended up costing us in the points. We're going to have to work harder and hopefully rebound at Charlotte."

Newman is currently 13th in the NASCAR Cup points standings, just two points shy of 12th-place cut-off for the NASCAR Chase.

Hornish Jr. started 23rd Saturday night but two separate tire incidents relegated the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge team to a 38th place finish. The No. 77 team now sits 36th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points standings, just 18 points outside of the 35th "locked-in" position. "The handling on the Mobil 1 Dodge was good and we were picking up spots. The right front tire went down and the front end of the race car just went straight," said Hornish Jr. about the first tire incident. "Unfortunately, sometimes it seems the days we feel good about the car we hit a bump."

"I'm proud of this team," commented Mobil 1 team crew chief Chris Carrier. "We continue to overcome and we will overcome tonight. One of these days is going to be our day. If anything, I am sure of that."

"I guess we have to pay our dues like everyone else," Hornish Jr. added. "Sooner or later it will turn our way."

Next weekend, Hornish Jr. and the Mobil 1 team will lay it all on the line in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race for the Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 17. The top two finishers advance into the million-dollar All-Star Race as does one fan vote recipient. To guarantee Hornish Jr. a spot in the no-holds-barred event, joining teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman, visit www.nascar.com.

Racing action of the Sprint Showdown/All-Star Race will air live on SPEED at 7 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio at 7:30 p.m. EDT.