Busch, Miller Lite Team Enter Martinsville On A Roll

March 24, 2010

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 23, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" Team enter this weekend's Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on a roll. After winning two races ago at Atlanta and leading the most laps and finishing third at Bristol last Sunday, Busch has momentum on his side heading into the bullring that he quickly labels, "my most difficult track."

Sunday's race at Martinsville will officially introduce NASCAR's "wingless" version of the Sprint Cup car, with the return to a rear spoiler instead. Busch is highly optimistic that his team, especially with the guidance from Addington, can adapt quickly.

"Yes, there's bound to be a learning curve all the teams will go through with the spoiler," said Busch, who has climbed from 19th to sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings after the last two races. "It's that way every time we go through any change that NASCAR makes. The team that adapts the quickest always seems to have the upper hand while everyone else plays catch-up. When NASCAR introduced this new car we're racing back in 2007, a couple of teams found their strength early with it and that paid really big dividends when we starting racing it fulltime.

"My brother (Kyle) and that 18 team (Joe Gibbs Racing) are quick to come to mind when you think back," said Busch, who has led almost twice as many laps as any other competitor during the first five races of the 2010 season. "Steve Addington was over there for their success and now he's guiding our team. With his leadership, you can't help but be confident that we can get on top of this new situation with the spoilers. We've been showing strength this season and I think we're really turning the corner overall as a team. I've always struggled at Martinsville, so I don't think you could gauge our learning curve until several races on down the line.

"Having the spoiler instead of the wing will tend to make these cars looser and the sidedraft will come into play more on the bigger tracks," Busch said prior to Tuesday's testing at Charlotte where he found his car was actually on the tighter side. "But it'll definitely be the same story as it always is at Martinsville this weekend. I've always struggled there and it's my most difficult track. I'll definitely be leaning on my crew chief this weekend.

"I feel like we just need to find a better balance and a better package for Martinsville," Busch said. "From the very beginning in working with Steve Addington as our crew chief, I let him know that if I have a weak spot at any of the race tracks out there, Martinsville is definitely that one. I need to have more confidence, get comfortable and get a good rhythm going there during the race.

"I struggle at Martinsville and I've made no secret about it," said Busch, who won the pole at Martinsville in October 2006 and claimed the race win in the October 2002 race. "I've sat on the pole before and I've won there before, but I don't really know how I did either one of those when it actually happened. It's just a tough parking-lot-style of racing. You're racing on a flat surface on the straightaways and all the way through the corners. You just stay so hard on the brakes into the corners that you don't know when you're gonna slide over that edge of how you need to be running. I seem to almost always heat up my front brakes too much there and they lose the grip we need towards the end of the race. Most of the time, we still have plenty of rear brake left as the race concludes and that really tends to create a loose handling situation.

"You're all on top of one another for the whole race, with cars behind you and in front of you ramming and jamming and beating and banging," said Busch, who has a 21.5 average finish at Martinsville in 19 career starts there entering this weekend. "It's so tough on the drivers and the teams. You can have one slow pit stop and find yourself falling from the top-five all the way back to 25th. You get mired up in the traffic and it's so difficult to pass. You can do a complete tire run and maybe only make up half the positions that you lost earlier. Everyone has to be on top of their game just about for the entire race in order to excel there."

Even with the debut of newest version of the NASCAR Cup car, Busch expects his stiffest competition to come from the same drivers. "It seems like recently there, you have to be Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon and maybe Denny Hamlin to have what it takes to run up front and have the best shot at winning at the end and we expect that to continue there again this weekend," Busch offered. "Another guy that's impressed me recently there is (Juan Pablo) Montoya. He has shown a lot of potential and could be up there challenging for the win on Sunday.

"Our Miller Lite Dodge Team is really clicking together right now with Steve helping lead the charge," Busch added. "We're coming back into Martinsville really hoping to hold our own this weekend."

This weekend's Sprint Cup schedule at Martinsville Speedway gets under way with Friday's practice from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's 500-lap battle is set for Friday at 3:10 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV and MRN Radio). Saturday's final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 11:50 a.m. till 12:50 p.m. Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 (500 laps, 263 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. EDT starting time. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action from Martinsville Speedway.