Kurt Busch Finishes 10th At Watkins Glen

August 11, 2008

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 10, 2008) - After suffering three consecutive races that were filled with every problem imaginable which led to a dismal 35th-place average finish during the period, Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led Miller Dodge Dodge Team bounced back to finish 10th in today's Centurion Boats at the Glen.

"It was a big relief to finally have a race that was pretty much problem-free," said Busch of his fifth top-10 finish of the 2008 season and only his second top-10 in eight races on this winding 2.45-mile road course in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. "We were about a 10th-place car. We could have been 15th or we could have been fifth.

"It was a great race for us, considering what this team has gone through during the last few weeks," said Busch. "We hardly made any adjustments. We had to make sure we had enough fuel after last week (when the team ran out of fuel twice). I'm happy for this team to get a top-10 finish. That was a good day for us right now."

In what was supposed to be a miserable day weather-wise according to the forecast, it turned out to be a beautiful day, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

After rain showers washed out qualifying here on Friday, Busch started 19th here this afternoon. In an unbelievably calm first half of the 90-lap race which saw only single-car spins off the track and no cautions, Busch hovered around 15th in the running order.

A scheduled pit stop on Lap 26 saw the team make only minor air pressure and wedge adjustments. Shortly after Penske Racing rookie driver Sam Hornish Jr. got off the track and brought gravel back on, NASCAR officials displayed the first yellow flag of the race on Lap 47 for debris.

That's when various strategies were brought into the equation. The majority of the top-15 cars, including Busch, stayed out due to the fact that they were not yet in their fuel window. Others, including Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose and others opted to play their strategy by pitting for four tires and fuel under that caution.

Kyle Busch led on the Lap 50 restart, with Tony Stewart second, Carl Edwards third, Kevin Harvick fourth, Denny Hamlin fifth, Juam Montoya sixth, Jeff Burton seventh, Jamie McMurray eighth, Kurt Busch ninth and Kasey Kahne 10th.

Those who did not pit under the yellow starting doing so only four laps after the restart. The green-flag stops saw all the teams take on four tires and fuel. The No. 2 Miller Lite Team pitted on Lap 56, taking on four tires and fuel, with only air pressure changes. The stop required 16.032 seconds.

Some of the cars that had pitted for four tires and fuel under the previous caution pitted again for fuel only during Laps 58-60. The strategy paid off for Newman, Truex, Ambrose and others. After the second yellow flag of the race fell on Lap 64 for debris, the lineup for the Lap 66 restart had Kyle Busch leading, with Stewart second, Newman third, Truex fourth and Ambrose fifth. Hamlin, Ron Fellows, Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10 at the time. Kurt was shown 18th in the running order.

"We've got a vibration going on," Kurt radioed in on Lap 70. "I don't know what it is, but it's only happening during the high-speed areas of the track."

"It's the front splitter," reported spotter Chris Osborne. "It looks like it's broken in the center, but it's still intact. Just keep it up; you're doing great."

Kurt had made it up to 14th when Newman, running third at the time, got into Turn 1 too hot and spun. The car shut off and would not re-fire. In a true example of teamwork, teammate Hornish placed the front bumper of his Mobil 1 Dodge against the rear bumper of Newman's Kodak Dodge and the push was provided to get back around to pit road. Otherwise, Newman would have certainly lost a lap waiting for assistance from the track wrecker crew.

It was later deduced that Newman's problems were electrical related and it would hamper him throughout the remainder of the race.

Kurt was 13th on the Lap 81 restart and moving forward. Only a lap later, a spectacular crash exiting Turn 11 brought out the third caution period and an ensuing red flag period. Exiting the turn, David Gilliland and Michael McDowell made contact and veered into the outside tire wall. Gilliland shot back across the track and into the middle of the oncoming traffic. The ensuing melee saw some seven cars involved and required a 30-minute clean-up.

Kurt was 12th on the restart with five laps remaining. He was able to get around Kenseth with four to go for the 11th spot and finally cleared Almendinger to bring the Miller Lite Dodge home in 10th.

Up front, it was Kyle Busch taking his eighth win of the 2008 season, this one by 2.275 seconds on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart. Ambrose was extremely impressive in finishing third, especially after winning yesterday's Nationwide Series race here and starting today's race from the 43rd and final starting spot. Montoya finished fourth, with Truex rounding out today's top-five finishers.

Harvick, Johnson, Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Kurt rounded out the top 10 in the finishing order. Newman was credited with a 26th-place finish and Hornish was shown as 32nd in the post-race rundown.

"We were okay and were probably were as fast as the guys who ran between fourth and seventh today," said Tryson. "Watkins Glen is just one of those tracks where it's tough to get track position and when you start back in the field like we did, it makes it a tougher mountain to climb. Overall, the car wasn't too bad and we have some positive momentum heading into Michigan next week."

As the team loaded their No. 2 Dodge Charger onto their trailer, car chief Corey Tucker pointed out that two of the five brackets supporting the front splitter were completely sheered and another two would have lasted only a few more laps.

Kurt remained 18th in the points after 22 races have been concluded. With 2,269 points, he trails his leading little brother by 985 points. He is 420 points behind 10th-place Biffle and 359 points behind 12th-place Kenseth.

The Sprint Cup tour now heads back to Michigan International Speedway for next weekend's 3M Performance 400. Kurt is the defending champion of the race. This weekend's action gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. Sunday's 43-car starting field will be determined in Friday's 3:40 p.m. single round of Cup qualifying. Saturday's schedule boasts Cup practice sessions from 12:30 till 1:15 p.m. and from 1:50 p.m. till 2:50 p.m. Sunday's 3M Performance 400 Sprint Cup race has a 2:00 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and MRN Radio presenting live coverage of the 200-lap, 400-mile battle.