Busch, Miller Lite Team Earn Impressive Win at Atlanta

March 8, 2010

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 7, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch claimed his 21st career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in Sunday afternoon's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was his third career win at AMS and his second consecutive victory in this race. The huge win came in only the fourth race with veteran crew chief Steve Addington calling the shots from atop Busch's pit box.

"With Steve Addington, all of his new ideas, I never knew how we could mesh them together and how soon we were able to do it," said Busch, who climbed to 10th in the Sprint Cup point standings as the series heads into an off weekend, but not for the 2004 champion who will compete in next weekend's Gator Nationals NHRA competition in Gainesville, Fla. "Even on those restarts at the end, I just felt like we had the car to beat.

"It was a great battle for us," said Busch of the monumental win for him personally as it extended his winning streak to nine consecutive seasons. "Our Miller Lite Dodge was set up for being a utility-type car. What I mean by that is it was good on long runs, good in the middle runs and good on the short runs. We weren't excellent in any area, but good overall with the different stints you have to run on tires. Then sometimes, there are cautions and you stay out on old tires. The car reacted well on those. That's what it takes...a well-rounded car. I felt like this year's battle was much tougher with the competition than last year. But it's just because the tires change a little bit, aerodynamics change a little bit.

"But I'll tell you one thing that changed, and it changed for the better, is the guy sitting to my right. Steve Addington has taught me how to drive cars different, how to look at them differently. When you want to get up on the wheel for somebody like Steve, good things happen. I'm happy to bring it home for Steve, this team. A win for Dodge early in the year means a lot to us, means a lot to the people up in Detroit."

Sunday's race, which was originally scheduled to go 325 laps around this 1.54-mile track wound up going 16 laps into overtime as the fireworks certainly broke out at the end of this one. Busch looked to be holding off Juan Pablo Montoya near the end of the scheduled distance, but a wild crash by Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski sent the race into the first overtime. The No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge driver was running sixth when Carl Edwards crashed him on lap 323, sending the red Dodge Charger flying and tumbling down the track. Fortunately, Keselowski was not hurt and Edwards was parked for the day for his rough driving tactics.

When that mess was cleaned up, Busch had taken four fresh Goodyear Tires under the yellow and had to clear three drivers who opted for only two tires. After making the pass for the lead, Busch appeared to be headed toward the win again, only to be denied when a nine-car pileup in Turn 3 brought out the 11th caution period of the race and set up a second attempt at the green-white-checkered finish.

Busch got a great restart when the race returned to green on lap 339 and went on to finish .482 seconds ahead of runner-up Matt Kenseth. Montoya finished third, with Kasey Kahne fourth and Paul Menard fifth. A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and Scott Speed rounded out today's top-10 finishers. Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. ran in the top 10 for much of the race, but engine problems relegated him to a 28th-place finish. Keselowski was credited with a 36th-place finish.

"It feels awesome to get that first win at Atlanta," Addington said. "This is the site of my first Cup win. To come back here and put this together, this was a team effort. It all started on Friday with the feedback from Kurt. You know, he told us, you know, we've got to work on this thing. If we're going to win, we got to work on this. We made a lot of adjustments. We hit on some stuff on Saturday. He was happy with it. We kind of messed around there. It was just like, hey, let's go back here, we're not that far off on the second run from Happy Hour. Let's adjust from there. That's what we did. And we felt confident going in. I slept good last night, you know. That was a different feeling than I've had in a long time, to be able to go in and rest because I felt confident that I had the feedback I needed to go out and win this race with Kurt Busch.

"I think if I denied that, I would be lying," Addington replied when asked if he felt like he'd accomplished some "unfinished business" with today's big win. "You know, it feels good. It honestly feels good to be with this race team, with Kurt as the driver, and come back and win before the 18 car got a chance to win. That's a personal deal. There's nothing against that. I'm still great friends with Kyle and everything. But it's a good feeling. It's a relief in a certain way. It all comes back to the team. You know, I didn't win this race today. Kurt won this race with these guys on pit road, these guys that put this car together and worked on it through practice. This was a total team effort all weekend long.

"It's awesome. You know, and the thing that really I feel good about was when all that went down, I mean, I'm at a point, let's move on past that," Addington added when pressed again about moving from being the crew for one Busch Brother to the other. "But this guy right here, he's the first one that called, you know. So it's a good feeling to know that the driver wants you to come over here and go to work for him. That's the most satisfying thing, is to get him to Victory Lane. I hope we do it many more times together here this year.

"You know, I mean, I think that we can," continued Addington. "He's been awesome to work with. Great feedback. The thing that I enjoy about it is, we can sit in that lounge three hours after practice, and he finally looked through all the stuff, go over with us, he'll go, ‘all right, what do you want to do now?' It's like we talk about a lot of stuff. It's good to have somebody sitting in there. You know, we don't have to say a lot. We're all looking through the information together, looking at what we did, looking back at runs. It's very satisfying to be working with Kurt right now. I'm looking forward to it. I think that great things can happen with this race team. To answer your question, like I said earlier, to come back here, this is the place that I won my first race as a Cup crew chief, and it just happened to be with his brother. That was very special. That was very big. But to be with a new organization, to have the relationship that I've already built in a short period of time with Kurt and this race team, this one's pretty damn special. To put it on a measuring stick, I can't, because I feel pretty damn good right now."

After four races are complete in the 2010 season, Busch's win Sunday shot him up nine spots in the Cup Series point standings to 10th. With 502 points, he trails leader Harvick by 142 points. He is 56 behind fifth-place Clint Bowyer and three points behind ninth-place Menard. Hornish is 31st in the standings with 325 points and Keselowski is 33rd with 295 points.

"I feel like we've been a ping pong ball in the points standings so far this year with Daytona, we were 23rd, bumped up to ninth after California, back to 19th after Vegas, and then shooting back up there like we did here today," said Busch, who led Sunday's race six times for a total of 129 laps. "We need to have