Busch Looks Forward To Short-Track Showdown at Bristol

March 16, 2010

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch heads back to Bristol Motor Speedway for this weekend's Food City 500 with extra confidence that stems from having crew chief Steve Addington running his Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" team.

"It's really easy to come in (to Bristol) with a little more swagger when you have the winning crew chief of both races there last season calling the shots for you and that's what our Miller Lite Dodge gang has with Steve Addington," said Busch, who will be making his 19th career B.M.S. start in Sunday's battle. "We've had quite a bit of success there ourselves over the years, winning five times. But, we haven't won at Bristol since 2006 and we're hoping Steve can be a vital team player in helping us find our way back to Victory Lane.

"Steve led the 18 team (with brother, Kyle, driving) to a dominant win at Bristol last spring," Busch said of the 2009 edition of the Food City 500 when the younger Busch led 378 of the 503 laps en route to the victory. "They came back and won the August race by saving their best for last.

"We're coming off a great win of our own, with Steve scoring his first victory as crew chief for our ‘Blue Deuce' team down at Atlanta in the Sprint Cup tour's most recent race," said Busch, who used that win to climb from 19th all the way up to 10th in the current point standings entering Bristol. "We'd love to come in there this weekend and score another dominant win, but we'd be thrilled to get a victory no matter how it comes.

"The bottom line is that our team has a really good grasp on the short-track big-picture importance because at the end of the day, all these races pay the exact same amount of points," said Busch, who has recorded a third of his career wins (seven of 21) on short tracks. "If you looked at perhaps our team's weakest link over the last several seasons, it'd have to be our overall performance on the short tracks. As a whole, I see us gaining strength, gaining momentum. But we know we have to get through this upcoming short-track portion of the season with the Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix races coming up and we couldn't have a better guy to lead our team in those races than Steve Addington."

Busch started 32nd and finished 11th in last year's Food City 500. Plagued by having to start in the back, Busch got caught up in a Lap 60 multi-car crash that did substantial damage to the front end of his Miller Lite Dodge. He fell to 39th on the ensuing restart and spent the remainder of the race making a steady charge to the front, Busch was all the way back up to 22nd on the Lap 129 restart after the fourth caution period. He was up to 17th on the Lap195 restart after the fifth caution flag had flown. At the halfway point (Lap 250), Busch was up to 14th. He had climbed to 12th on Lap 328 and moved forward to 11th with 50 laps to go, where he ran for the remainder of the race.

In last August's Sharpie 500, Busch started 13th and finished seventh. The 2004 Sprint Cup champ certainly put his short-track prowess on display during that race as he made up 15 spots during the final 50 laps. His Miller Lite Dodge was strong enough to join the top-five drivers on Lap 26 and he was a fixture there until after a pit stop on Lap 423. A bad vibration caused by loose lug nuts saw Busch slide back and get caught up in a Clint Bowyer/Kevin Harvick crash. He had fallen to 18th in the running order when the seventh caution flag of the night was displayed. But after making numerous trips to pit road to repair the sheet metal damage and work on the front splitter, NASCAR officials forced the No. 2 Dodge to restart from the very rear of the field. The 21 other cars on the lead lap were separated from Busch by every other lapped car that was still running. Busch proceeded to put on a clinic during the final circuits of the race, passing cars inside and outside lap after lap and climbing all the way back up to finish seventh.

"We had to play ‘catch-up' in both Bristol races last season and really didn't have the finishes that showed the actual strength of our race cars," said Busch. "We had a top-10 car there last spring and had to battle back to finish 11th. In the August race, we ran third most of the night and looked to have a car capable of going for it at the end. But a problem in the pits put us behind and we had to scramble for all we could get going down to the wire and a seventh was all we could get."

Busch, Addington and the Miller Lite Dodge crew tested at Gresham Motorsports Park on Tuesday, March 9, in their preparation for the next few races. "I think the time we spent there was well worth the time and effort," Addington said of the laps turned on that newly-refurbished half-mile track near Jefferson, Ga. "Kurt really liked the packages we tried there that day and we think
it'll pay dividends in the upcoming weeks."

This weekend's Sprint Cup schedule at Bristol Motor Speedway gets under way with Friday's practice from 12:00 noon until 1:30 p.m. Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's 500-lap battle is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV and PRN Radio). Saturday's final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 12:20 p.m. till 1:20 p.m. Sunday's Food City 500 (500 laps, 266.5 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. EDT starting time. FOX-TV and PRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.