Busch Rides Momentum and Qualifies Second at Phoenix

November 14, 2009

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 13, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start from the outside pole in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway after turning in a lap of 26.750 seconds (134.579 mph) in this afternoon's qualifying session.

"It was a tough lap because I felt like I had to tip-toe it a little bit," said Busch, who was only 25th fastest in practice, turning in a lap of 27.196 seconds (132.372 mph). "I couldn't get aggressive with the steering wheel. I saw the number that Martin (Truex Jr.) put down and that's different than anything we've seen here at Phoenix, especially it being on his first lap. For us, a solid lap. It just didn't feel like a second-place lap, more like a 10th-place lap. It's nice to carry the extra momentum over that we gained last weekend in Texas."

Truex had gone out 26th in the qualifying order and turned in a 26.643-second (135.120 mph) lap on his first circuit around this one-mile flat track. That was fast enough to knock Jimmie Johnson (26.775 seconds/134.454 mph) off the pole and Busch, out 33rd in the order, relegated the three-time champion back to third. Kasey Kahne (26.807 seconds/134.293 mph) earned the fourth starting spot, with Denny Hamlin (26.820 seconds/134.228 mph) fifth.

Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Casey Mears and Mark Martin rounded out the top-10 qualifiers. Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr., who had turned in the fastest lap in practice, will start his Mobil 1 Dodge in the 12th spot after turning in a lap of 26.881 seconds (133.924 mph). Young charging teammate Brad Keselowski will start his No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge 26th after clocking in with a lap of 27.035 seconds (133.161 mph).

"It was another really strong day for our Miller Lite Dodge," Busch said in his post-qualifying press conference. "We were pretty strong here in race trim during practice this afternoon. Our qualifying effort will get us a good spot on pit road for Sunday's race. We just need to get in two good practice sessions here tomorrow and come back in here on Sunday and execute like we know we are capable of doing."

Today's second-place qualifying effort scored Busch's 18th top-10 start of 2009 and his ninth in 14 career races here at Phoenix International Raceway. For the trivia buffs, officials reported that Sunday's race will be the first time in Cup history that the No. 1 and No. 2 cars have ever started 1-2 in a race.

Saturday's schedule at Phoenix International Raceway sees morning practice

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 1:15 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.