Kurt Busch - NASCAR Cup Series Preview New Hampshire

September 9, 2008

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 9, 2008) - In Kurt Busch's last visit to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he could be found celebrating his third career NHMS victory with his Miller Lite Dodge crew in a makeshift Victory Lane setting in the Nationwide Series garage area. The massive sellout crowd of 105,491 fans had been dispersed in an evacuating fashion due to a band of strong storms that pounded the area.

"I don't think that the record was ever set straight about what all came down there during the last race at New Hampshire," said Busch of the June 29 Lenox Industrial Tools 301, where he picked up the 18th career win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. "We're headed back there this weekend and as the most recent winners, it's probably a great time to make sure that the whole story is floating around out there.

"The bottom line is that we had a pretty good car that day," said Busch of the team's "PSC-574" Miller Lite Dodge Charger the team was debuting in the race. "It's the same car we raced at Richmond last Sunday and ran decent with. Just looking at the numbers, with a win and a 10th-place finish in its only races so far, you'd have to maybe say it's one of the strongest cars in our fleet right now.

"Having that good of a car there in the June race put us in position to stretch our fuel a little bit," Busch continued. "When we could make it to the end on fuel, 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 our pit strategy worked out perfect.

"We're confident that with as strong of car as we had there that day, with enough fuel to make it to the end and with sort of a buffer of cars running right behind us and between us and the other fast guys, we would have been able to win the race had we been able to complete it in its entirety.

"So, it was really clear to us - just as clear then as it is now - regardless of the race being called official due to the rain, we chalked the win up to Pat using great strategy," Busch said of crew chief Pat Tryson's calls from atop the pit box that day. "It really chapped us when we heard reports that we would not have won unless the rain came.

"I'm sure that somewhere in between all the stories about the Chase kicking in there this weekend, someone will have to mention the June race and the scenario that unfolded there that day," Busch said of this weekend's Sylvania 300, the initial battle of the 10-race "Chase" to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. "So, we just wanted to make sure that if anyone cared, they could check it out and hear what the rest of the story was there back in the June race."

* * *

A brief recap of the June 29 Lenox Industrial Tools 301, from the Busch team perspective:

Busch started the 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 had 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 light rain 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 light rain turned 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 the top-10 finishers.


--according to Pat, consistency and the ability to be running at the finish and limit DNFs is the key to making the Chase, and it could very well be the most important factor in winning it this season. "How many cars made this year's Chase but are yet to win a race?" Tryson said of the five drivers (Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth) who are in the Chase for 2008, but

have yet to win a single race this season. "Yes, it'll be possible to win the championship without winning a race," continued Pat, who made every Chase prior to this one. "Notice I said possible and did not say probable. You still have to look at those three guys starting out up front (Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson) and say that they are the favorites. It'll still be about consistency as far as the big picture goes. The guys without the wins had the consistency to make it into the top 12 after 26 races. Look further on back. The guys who are 13th through 19th account for four race wins, but they didn't have the consistency necessary to make the cut."

The numbers certainly back up Pat's assessment. Here are the winless drivers in the Chase (positions 8-12) back through 19th spot in the points with average finishing spot through the first 26 races and number of DNFs:

Pos. Driver Avg. Fin. DNFs


9 GREG BIFFLE 14.3 2

10 JEFF GORDON 15.1 4


12 MATT KENSETH 16.0 0

13 KASEY KAHNE 17.1 2

14 DAVID RAGAN 18.1 2


16 RYAN NEWMAN 18.5 2

17 MARTIN TRUEX, JR 17.2* 2


19 KURT BUSCH 21.8 3

* docked 150 points for a violation at July Daytona race

What about current points-leader Kyle Busch? He has an incredible 9.9 average finish and only one DNF.

--Kurt, Pat and crew return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend as the most recent winners on the 1.058-mile oval. "I don't think that the record was ever set straight about what all came down there during the last race at New Hampshir