Busch to Start 13th in Sharpie 500 at Bristol

August 21, 2009

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway from the 13th starting spot after clocking in with an official qualifying lap of 15.532 seconds (123.539 mph).

"I think we left a little out there on the table in (Turns) 3 and 4, but we're confident it'll get us a better spot than we've been getting here," said Busch, who was ninth in the qualifying order here today. "I think Mark (Martin, eventual pole winner) must have had a near perfect lap out there. He's amazing and we all look up to him, that's for sure.

"It was a strong run for our Miller Lite Dodge and I'm proud of the effort we put forth here this afternoon," Busch said of his best qualifying effort here since 2006.

Martin took to the track immediately after Busch and the "Blue Deuce" driver was stopped on pit road as the 50-year-old Martin completed his lap of 15.414 seconds (124.484 mph).

When the dust had settled at BMS Friday afternoon, it was Greg Biffle (out 31st in the order and with a lap of 15.436 seconds/124.307 mph) who came closest to knocking Martin off the pole. Surprisingly, "go-or-go-home" drivers Scott Speed (15.456 seconds/124.146 mph) and Dave Blaney (15.478 seconds/123.970 mph) clamed the second row starting spots. Matt Kenseth (15.487 seconds/123.897 mph) took the fifth starting spot after running no laps in qualifying trim and barrowing teammate Biffle's setup to make his attempt. Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Reed Sorenson completed today's top-10 qualifiers.

Juan Pablo Montoya and David Gilliland turned in the exact same time and speed to take the sixth-row starting spots. Kurt Busch will start 13th, with Brian Vickers 14th and Kyle Busch 15th. Several notables, including Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon will start further back in the pack after turning in disappointing qualifying efforts.

Penske Racing's David Stremme (15.688 seconds/123.310 mph) was 34th fastest on today's speed chart, while Sam Hornish Jr. (15.721 seconds/122.053 mph) turned in the 38th-fastest lap.

"For Saturday night's race, you gotta' keep your car clean, stay out of trouble and maybe that sixth win is right around the corner," said Busch, a five-time winner here who last won in 2006 in his Penske Racing Miller Lite Dodge. "The biggest thing is to protect your race car for the full 500 laps. You have to put yourself in position at the end of the race to win the race. You don't have to lead them all (laps), you just have to lead the right ones. Each part of the race is a different strategy, different feeling. If you can survive the first 400 laps, then you race the last 100 hard and try to be there at the end to get a race win."

"I think we're in pretty good shape here for tomorrow night, said crew chief Pat Tryson. "We didn't spend much time at all with the qualifying setup and got in a lot of laps in race trim. We actually completed a 25-lap run in race trim when everyone else was working on qualifying runs there at the end of practice. I'm confident we have a top-10 car and happy that we'll have a decent spot on pit road to work in. This is a brand new race car and we hope to have a really good run with it here tomorrow night."

Saturday's Sharpie 500 (500 laps, 266.5 miles) Sprint Cup race has an 8 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and PRN Radio presenting live coverage.