Busch Claims Fourth in Daytona Duel

February 11, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led No. 2 Penske Racing Team will start Sunday's Daytona 500 from the 10th position after finishing fourth in the second 150-mile qualifying race here today at Daytona International Speedway. Busch, Addington and crew are optimistic that today's strong run could serve as a preview for a possible win in Sunday's 52nd edition of "The Great American Race."

"It was a great Miller Lite Dodge," said Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ who is still looking for his first career Daytona win. "I felt like we had a car capable of winning the race today and we learned quite a bit about the draft and what we have to do for Sunday. I'm really excited about this car's potential and what we can do as a team to win the Daytona 500. (The performance shows) a lot of improvement from the engine department and everyone polishing on these fast cars that we have here in Daytona. Hey, I made it through a race without wrecking so we're excited (laughs)."

Busch started third in today's 60-lap battle around the 2.5-mile track and ran with the lead pack during the entire race. After hooking up with rookie teammate Brad Keselowski to create a one-two Penske Racing lead draft on Lap 10, the two continued to hold down the top spots until Matt Kenseth got around to take the lead 15 laps later.

David Gilliland's spin on Lap 27 brought out the only caution flag of the race. After pitting for four tires and fuel on Lap 28, Busch lined up third on the Lap 30 restart. With pushing help from Kenseth, Busch moved into the lead on Lap 33. He would go on to be credited with leading three times for 22 laps.

With 10 laps to go, Brian Vickers was running just behind leader Busch and he made an outside move to take the lead with drafting help from Tony Stewart. Busch was momentarily shuffled back to sixth on Lap 54, but was back in the top five when Vickers got loose in front of Stewart and shot up the track with five laps remaining. With four laps to go, the running order saw Stewart leading, with Kasey Kahne second, Busch third, Elliott Sadler fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya up to fifth.

Kahne made an inside move on Stewart to grab the lead as the white flag flew. Montoya chose to draft with Stewart rather than Busch down the backstretch and that allowed the pack to become double-file down the stretch to the finish line. At the checkers, it was Kahne taking the win by only 0.014 seconds over Stewart, with Montoya third, Busch fourth and Sadler fifth. Keselowski finished 12th, while teammate Sam Hornish Jr., who ran among the top-10 for most of the race had mechanical issues and finished 26th.

"I didn't want to block too severely and chance wrecking the car, so I let those guys go by on the outside and nobody went with us," Busch said of the race's final laps. "But the strength of this Miller Lite Dodge showed and that's awesome. We just need to figure out what racing line we need to be in at the end of the race. This car is really strong. It qualified really well. We finished fourth today which will put us near the front to start the race and we're excited about our chances. I can't wait for Sunday's race."

The finish of the first 150-miler was even closer, with Jimmie Johnson taking the win by a 0.005-second margin over runner-up Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch finished third with Clint Bowyer fourth and Regan Smith fifth.

Sunday's starting grid sees the top-two qualifiers from last Saturday, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. holding down the front row, with Johnson and Kahne starting in Row 2. Harvick starts fifth, with Stewart, Kyle Busch, Montoya, Bowyer and Kurt Busch rounding out the top-10 starters. Keselowsi will start 26th, while Hornish goes from the 36th spot.

"It was awesome," Miller Lite Dodge crew chief Addington said of today's performance. "The car drove great all day. It got a little free, but we left it alone (during the pit stop) and I think we'll have something for them on Sunday. We just need to keep the nose clean until then for sure. I think we have something to work from and adjust on. Kurt did a great job. I'm excited for Penske Racing and Dodge because I know that we have some stuff left to get us a little bit more horsepower in it. We found out who our friends were there late in the race. We kind of got hung out and I thought that we were going to fall back to 15th or so, but the car was stout enough to hang on and get us a top five out of it."

Sunday's 52nd Annual Daytona 500 has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. EST starting time here at Daytona International Speedway. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.