Busch Finishes Fifth at Dover, Up to Fourth in Standings

September 27, 2009

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 27, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch used his eighth top-five finish (and 16th top-10) of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season to climb to fourth in points in the "Chase" for the championship when he finished fifth in Sunday's AA A 400 at Dover International Speedway.

"It was a really good run for our Miller Lite Dodge," Busch said after the grueling 400-mile battle on this demanding high-banked one-mile concrete oval track. "We put it up front most of the day and put ourselves in position (to win), but a couple of guys were quicker than us at the end. We wanted to come and get tires (during last caution). It's a tough call. You want to go for the win, but at the same time, you've got to get a good solid finish. So, we decided to stay out and hang on.

"I'm proud of my guys," Busch said. "We had excellent pit stops. It was a nice solid day for us. The track got rubbered in and when it did, we were tight on corner exit. Tight on corner exit slows the car on the straightaway. If we can tweak that, we'll be after them. The Miller Lite Dodge was solid. I felt like we had a nice rhythm today. All in all, a good run for our Dodge."

Busch started 16th on Sunday, but by lap 15 he had cleared rookie Joey Logano for 10th. He was up to ninth when a competition yellow flew on lap 26 due to the fact that overnight showers washed all the rubber off the track and NASCAR officials wanted to give the teams a chance to get a read on their tires.

Busch would be a fixture among the top-10 for the remainder of the race. Opting for just two tires during that yellow flag pit stop, Busch was able to jump up to second behind leader Ryan Newman for the lap 30 restart. Newman chose the outside lane for the double-file restart and it was evident from the drop of the green flag that the outside line was the preferred groove.

Busch was still second behind leader Newman when Logano was sent for a wild and scary ride through turn 3 on lap 31 to bring out the second caution. The crash collected six cars and brought out the red flag for a cleanup period of some 25 minutes.

After the lap 36 restart, Busch chased down Newman and overtook him for the lead on lap 58. The "Blue Deuce" jumped out to a comfortable lead before Michael Waltrip hit the wall in turn 2 on lap 84 to bring out the third caution period of the race. With front-tire-changer Jay Hackney on the sidelines after injuring his back earlier this week, the team called on Ben Brown, normally the tire changer for the Penske Racing No. 12 team, to fill in for Hackney. The over-the-wall gang was able to rally and get Busch out as the leader on the Lap 89 restart.

Jimmie Johnson, the pole winner who had led early in the race, was the driver on the move. At lap 100, he was running second and closing in on Busch and his No. 2 Dodge Charger. Johnson cleared Busch for the lead on lap 147 and began to pull away.

Kyle Busch smacked the wall on lap 162 and the debris from that encounter brought out the fourth yellow flag period on lap 163. A 13.280-second pit stop by the Pat Tryson-led Miller Lite Dodge crew shot Busch back into the lead for the lap 168 restart. Johnson dogged Busch lap after lap for the lead and finally got around to grab the lead again on lap 176.

It was pretty much "contest over" at that point as Johnson would go on to lead 271 of the 400 laps en route to a 1.970-second win over runner-up Mark Martin. Matt Kenseth finished third, with Juan Pablo Montoya fourth and Busch fifth. Jeff Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman rounded out Sunday's top-10 finishers. Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and David Stremme finished 26th and 29th, respectively, Sunday afternoon.

Busch, who led 99 laps, climbed to fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings. With eight races remaining to determine the 2009 series champ, he trails points-leader Martin by 75 points. He is 65 points behind second-place Johnson and 10 points behind third-place Montoya.

Here is a look at the Sprint Cup points scenario after Sunday's race. Shown is points position, car number, driver, wins for '09, total points, deficit to first and finishing position here today at Dover:

1) #5-Mark Martin [5 wins], 5400, finished 2nd at Dover
2) #48-Jimmie Johnson [4 wins], 5390, -10, 1st
3) #42-Juan Montoya 5335, -65, 4th
4) #2-Kurt Busch [1 win], 5325, -75, 5th
5) #14-Tony Stewart [3 wins] 5294, -106, 9th
6) #11-Denny Hamlin [2 wins], 5292, -108, 22nd
7) #39-Ryan Newman 5290, -110, 10th
8) #24-Jeff Gordon 5278, -122, 6th
9) #16-Greg Biffle 5262, -138, 13th
10) #83-Brian Vickers [1 wins], 5249, -151, 18th
11) #99-Carl Edwards 5247, -153, 11th
12) #9-Kasey Kahne [2 wins], 5211, -189, 8th

The NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit now moves on to Kansas Speedway for the third of the 10 Chase races (29th of 36 overall). The schedule at Kansas Speedway begins on Friday with practice from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. CDT. Friday's 3:40 p.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday's 43-car starting field. Saturday's schedule offers practice sessions from 11:30 a.m. till 12; 15 p.m. and from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday's Price Chopper 400 pres. by Kraft Foods (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. CDT starting time and features live coverage by ABC-TV and MRN Radio.