Kurt Busch Wins in Rain-Shortened Race at Loudon

June 29, 2008

LOUDON, N.H. (June 29, 2008) - No. 2 Miller Lite Driver Kurt Busch admitted that he didn't have the fastest car in today's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but he appeared to be just as thrilled that his Pat Tryson-led team won on a strategy call as he would have been with a dominant victory. The race was called as official due to adverse weather with 17 laps remaining in the scheduled distance.

"It was a good weekend for us working through our new test data that we put together from Milwaukee (Tuesday test) this week," said Busch, as he celebrated his 18th career Sprint Cup win. "We came with a different package and felt that we were a bit more competitive. I made a joke in practice that we passed somebody (laughter). It's been a long year trying to get Penske Racing back to form. We started off with a bang at Daytona. We feel like we have all the right people. I love Pat Tryson and all the crew guys right underneath him. I like all the guys back at the shop. We just can't quite put our finger on what we need.

"So today was a good car for what we've been normally, and that put us in position to stretch our fuel a little bit," Busch continued, with Tryson sitting by his side. "When we could make it to the end, we pitted. We needed a few laps to help us. But we were gonna be loaded for bear and ready to rock n' roll if it came down to the end. When everybody pitted with, I don't know, 30 laps to go, when I was told, you're in the lead, there's 26 laps to go, that's the most motivation a driver could ever ask for because you want to hold it off and bring it home for your team. So we were gonna have our work cut out for us. I felt we could have held off some the guys right behind us, and pit strategy worked out perfect. It's all credit to Pat Tryson."

Busch started today's race from the 26th starting spot. He proved to have a competitive car from the drop of the green flag as he worked his way up into the top 20 at Lap 19. He hovered around 20th for much of the first third of the race. Although his car had a slight "tight" condition in the center of the turns, his team made adjustments and Busch continued to advance through the pack.

Busch had made it up to 11th just past the race's mid-point, but after a 14.691-second pit stop under the fourth caution period on Lap 203, he fell to 14th in the running order. When Aric Almirola spun in Turn 4 on Lap 217 to bring out the fifth yellow flag of the race, Tryson's strategy started to unfold.

While Tony Stewart had led the most laps and looked to be unstoppable up front, he along with the other top-13 cars stayed out on the track. Tryson opted to bring Busch back down pit road to top off with fuel.

"We look to be a little short on fuel right now to go the distance, but if we get a few more caution laps we should be in great shape," Tryson said on the team radio just prior to the Lap 221 restart, with Busch now back in the 19th spot. "Just be smooth and we can win this thing. The rest of these guys will have to pit for fuel."

Busch got a really close call on Lap 246 when he slapped the outside wall while trying to pass Juan Pablo Montoya. His forward progress had stalled while he was running 18th with 35 laps remaining.

Jamie McMurray clipped Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the pit entrance in Turn 4 on Lap 271 to bring out the sixth caution flag of the event.

Tryson was right with his prediction as all 17 cars running in front of Busch hit pit road after the yellow flag flew. Busch took the lead on Lap 275 and was at the front of the pack for the Lap 278 restart.

The seventh caution of the race fell on Lap 280 for an altercation between Sam Hornish Jr. and Clint Bowyer in Turn 4. Under the yellow, Montoya intentionally spun out Kyle Busch as the sprinkles began to fall.

NASCAR officials were forced to bring the field, led by Busch's No. 2 Dodge, down pit road on Lap 284 and display the red flag. As the cars came to a halt, the sprinkles turn into a downpour.

With a strong storm bearing down on the area, the race was declared official after 284 laps at 5:12 p.m. Finishing second behind winner Busch was Michael Waltrip, with J.J. Yeley third, Martin Truex Jr. fourth and Elliott Sadler fifth. Reed Sorenson, Casey Mears, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Labonte rounded out today's top-10 finishers.

"You know, as hard as we're working, you can't just point to one thing and say that's what helped us get to Victory Lane," Busch answered when asked post-race if he credited testing at Milwaukee last Tuesday for the win. "Fuel mileage has been a big issue. We still need to work on that. We need to get our cars handling better. And we're working. We're working hard. We're testing all the time. Ask my wife. Ask the crew members. You know, we're on the gas trying to get our 2, 12 and 77 teams up, running competitive every week. So it's hard to put your finger on one thing. We'll definitely think about what Milwaukee gave us, our fuel mileage, and just the heart of this team. It's not due to lack of effort that we're not up front, because we're putting a full effort forward trying to find what it is. I like the people. I like the program. Pat Tryson is an awesome crew chief and team leader. I just wish there was one thing we could put our finger on to do better, but we're going to keep working as hard as we have been working."

Penske Racing's Ryan Newman finished 15th and Hornish, the team's rookie campaigner, came home 39th.

Busch climbed four spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings after today's win. With 1,794 points, he trails 12th-place Kevin Harvick by 222 points in the battle for the final spot of "Chase eligibility," with nine races now remaining to determine this year's 12 championship contenders.

The Sprint Cup tour now returns to Daytona International Speedway for next Saturday night's Coke Zero 400. In the circuit's most recent stop there, for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500, it was a Penske Racing one-two finish with Newman taking the win after getting a decisive push from Busch on the final lap.

The action at Daytona gets under way on Thursday with practice sessions scheduled from 4:00 p.m. till 5:20 p.m. and from 6:35 p.m. till 7:45 p.m. Friday's 4:10 p.m. single round of qualifying will establish Saturday night's 43-car starting field. All cars will be impounded immediately after time trials. Saturday's Coke Zero 400 (160 laps, 400 miles) is scheduled to start just after 8:00 p.m. EDT and features live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.