Kurt Busch Starting Third In Sunday's Battle At Phoenix

November 8, 2008

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 7, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start third in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 here at Phoenix International Raceway after turning in an official lap of 134.529 mph (26.760 seconds) in today's qualifying session.

"I thought that we had a good run with our new R6 engine," Busch said after qualifying had concluded with Jimmie Johnson on the pole (26.721-second lap) and Jamie McMurray on the outside pole (36.741-second lap). "We've had it in the car the last few weeks and thought that we would be able to sneak out a pole with the new engine, but to be third in qualifying, I'm really happy with that.

That fact that Jimmie Johnson is hard to beat - if he's going to beat us - that's great," said Busch, who was 12th fastest in practice and faced with the handicap of having to go out second in the qualifying order. "Jamie had a great lap as well. For us to start third is great track position. We look forward in having a good pit stall selection as well. It's funny because last week we were 30th on the grid and this week we're third. I thought that I drove about the same type of lap with the car. So we're still searching with our car at Penske Racing to find our exact niche, but third place is a great run for us."

David Reutimann (26.763-second lap) qualified fourth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fifth (26.844), Ryan Newman sixth (26.907), Jeff Gordon seventh (26.920), Denny Hamlin eighth (26.929), Paul Menard ninth (26.948) and Mark Martin 10th (26.970). Penske Racing's rookie campaigner Sam Hornish Jr. will start Sunday's race from the 33rd starting spot after turning in a lap of 27.193 seconds. Joe Nemechek was the only driver here attempting to qualify who will not start Sunday's race.

Saturday's action here at PIR includes morning practice that is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. till 12:15 p.m. and the final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 (500 kilometers/312 miles/312 laps) has a scheduled 1:45 p.m. local starting time (Mountain Standard Time) here on this 1.0-mile speed plant known as the Desert Mile. ABC-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.