Kurt Busch Looking for Solid Results at Martinsville

March 24, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 24, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Pat Tryson-led No. 2 Penske Racing Team could be found Monday and Tuesday of this week (March 23-24) testing on the "Little Rock," the half-mile track built last year behind the backstretch of the 1.017-mile Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.

"After seeing what we had at Bristol, we know that we need to be better prepared for Martinsville this weekend, so here we are," said Busch, while taking a lunch break on Tuesday. "Because we qualified so poorly at Bristol, it put us in a hole to begin with.

"The sad thing is that we'll never know how strong our new Bristol car was," Busch said of the new "PRS-600" Miller Lite Dodge the team was debuting at Bristol. "We got stuck back in the pack and got caught up in a chain-reaction crash that severely damaged the front end of the car. We got into the back of the 29 car (Kevin Harvick) so hard that I really thought it knocked all the brake ductwork out of it. I worried that it might have even damaged the radiator or at least hurt the grill area so bad that the thing would start overheating on us.

"Fortunately, the damage wasn't terminal and we could soldier on," said Busch, who battled back to finish 11th in the race and climb to second in the current NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. Entering Martinsville, Busch trails leader Jeff Gordon by 76 points (794-718) after five races. "We almost pulled out another top-10 finish there at Bristol on Sunday. We were giving it all we had to get us the ‘glory finish' we wanted so badly, but the 47 car (Marcos Ambrose) got us by two inches at the line.

"Other teams might have come out of last Sunday's race pretty well pleased if they'd faced our circumstances, but we're committed to win more races, get those top-fives and top-10s and make the Chase this season," said Busch, the 2004 series champion and 19-race winner entering Martinsville. "We came out of Bristol okay as far as the big picture goes, but we know we have to work on our short-track qualifying packages and we have to get our cars turning better during the races.

"I'm confident that we have a pretty good handle on the intermediate tracks right now and we've shown so much promise in those races so far this season," said Busch, who won the 2002 fall Martinsville race from the 36th starting spot, the furthest back a race winner has started. "We have to concentrate on any weak links we encounter and right now those are qualifying better and getting our cars to turn better on the short tracks."

"I really think Kurt might have been a little too hard on himself after Bristol on Sunday," said crew chief Tryson. "He really wanted his sixth career Bristol win so bad. When we got caught up in the mess early in the race and tore up the front end of the car, his determination to still get a top-10 out of the day was really incredible.

"After it was over, the media guys were congratulating him for making up 21 spots during the race," said Tryson. "That really wasn't the case, though. When we damaged the front end, we were able to fix it as well as we could and still didn't lose a lap. We actually fell all the way back to 39th on the restart, so if you look at it realistically, Kurt had an amazing run to make up 28 positions during the race.

"Just like I told them there at Bristol after it was over, the way Kurt and our team performed was a pretty good statement of how far we've come," said Tryson. "We came back from adversity to finish 11th in the race and I'm doubtful we could have done that last season. It was the kind of performance that you'd associate with a championship-caliber race team and we're committed to rise to that level this season.

"We know we have to qualify better at these races and we have to get the car turning better in the corners," said Tryson. "That's why we're spending the two days testing at the ‘Little Rock' track this week. We're convinced it's time well spent and it will pay dividends this weekend at Martinsville and on down the road."

Busch, Tryson and crew will be racing "Rain Man" again this weekend at Martinsville. The "PRS-574" Miller Lite Dodge Charger debuted at New Hampshire last June, where Busch started 26th and used fuel strategy to post his 18th career victory in the rain-shortened event. Busch named the car "Rain Man" after that race. "It's a pretty appropriate name when you consider what all unfolded during that race," Busch said in explaining his choice of the name.

This weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule at Martinsville Speedway gets under way with Friday's practice from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's 500-lap battle is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV and MRN Radio). Saturday's first practice is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. till 11:15 a.m. The final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 11:50 a.m. till 12:50 p.m. Sunday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 has a scheduled 2:00 p.m. local (EDT) starting time at the 0.526-mile high-banked facility. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.