Busch Qualifies Second for Sunday's Race at Watkins Glen

August 7, 2009

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 7, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start on the outside of the front row in Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen' Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International after turning in an official qualifying lap of 71.348 seconds (123.619 mph) in Friday afternoon's time trial session.

"It was a solid run," Busch said of his qualifying effort. "I feel bad that I didn't deliver for my Miller Lite Dodge guys. I didn't want to overdrive any of the corners. Maybe left a little bit on each braking zone, but we're right there in the mix of things. That's where we need to be; this is a long race."

Busch set the pace in the practice session leading up to qualifying, turning in a lap of 70.922 seconds. He appeared to be in a zone of his own, as Denny Hamlin was second with a lap of 71.397 seconds. The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champ later said that he may have been a little too conservative on his run due to watching Hamlin make his effort earlier in the qualifying session. Hamlin was scheduled out first in the order, but was the third driver to make his attempt. Busch took to the track 11th of the 46 drivers who made runs against the clock.

"I just felt like I left a little bit too much out there in qualifying," said Busch, who missed winning his second career pole and 11th overall by a mere eight-thousandths of a second. "Maybe it was because I was looking at Denny Hamlin who was second quickest in practice and saw the (qualifying) lap time and it told me to run a bit conservative and not step over the line. I just felt that we were a bit too conservative so (Jimmie) Johnson (who turned in a lap of 71.340 seconds/123.633 mph) snuck in there and got the pole.

"When we saw Denny Hamlin run a 1.11.60 (-second lap), I thought that dropped off a bunch from his pace in practice so that gave me the conservative mindset and then (I) just got beat flat out on the braking zones. So that means that I didn't slip a tire, we were conservative. (Where I lost time was in) Really just two heavy braking zones like Turn 1 and getting into the inner-loop, bus stop on the back straightaway. Those two areas, I thought I was conservative. I hit my marks easy, but when you hit them easy, that means you weren't on that ragged edge.

"Yeah, it's tough to lose by eight-thousandths (of a second), but hey, it's just a front row starting spot, the big prize is on Sunday," Busch said of his 12th top-10 start of 2009 and his sixth in nine races at Watkins Glen.

Johnson's pole was his first of the 2009 season and 20th overall for the three-time series champion.

Hamlin starts third, with Marcos Ambrose fourth and Penske Racing teammate David Stremme, in his first-ever career Cup qualifying effort at The Glen, grabbing the fifth starting spot. Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Boris Said and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out today's top-10 qualifiers.

Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. had turned in the eighth-fastest lap in practice, but brake issues took their toll on his qualifying lap (73.125 seconds/120.615 mph) and he will start 36th in Sunday's race.

Saturday's schedule at the picturesque Upstate New York road course boasts Cup practice sessions from 12 noon till 12:45 p.m. and from 1:20 p.m. till 2:20 p.m. Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen' Sprint Cup race has a 2:00 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and MRN Radio presenting live coverage of the 90-lap, 220.5-mile battle.