Incidents Lead to 35th-Place Finish for Busch in Phoenix

April 11, 2010

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 10, 2010) -- An incident on Lap 15 of today's Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway set the tone for Kurt Busch and the Miller Lite Dodge Team that would lead to a 35th-place finish here tonight. The result dropped him from sixth to 14th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.

Busch started 19th here today and was noting that he had a very tight Miller Lite Dodge on the team radio. But on Lap 15, his car broke loose exiting Turn 4, sending him into a spin that collected the Ford of Kasey Kahne and brought out the first caution flag. It would set the precedent for what would be a long day at the track for Busch, crew chief Steve Addington and the "Blue Deuce" Penske Racing Team.

"Certainly not the night that we were looking for with our Miller Lite Dodge," a disappointed Busch said back at the team hauler after the race. "Our night pretty much ended on lap 15 when, coming out of Turn 4, the car just shot right on me and collected the 9 car. The contact wasn't that bad, but I got spun around, slid down track and got clipped by the 11 which tore up the left front pretty good. Steve (Addington, crew chief) and the Miller Lite crew did an awesome job to keep us on the lead lap repairing the car. We made something like 10 stops under caution which kept me on the lead lap.

"Once I got out racing again, the car felt pretty good and we actually raced our way into the top 30 (27th), but then I tried to stay out too long during green-flag stops, hoping to catch the "lucky dog" and ended up cutting down a right-front tire," Busch said of the second and most-devastating blow that occurred on Lap 134 that put him eight more laps behind the leaders and sealed his fate for the bad finish. "It was just too much damage to the right-front and our night ended before it really started. That's racing. We'll have to dust ourselves off and move on to Texas where we won last fall."

Kyle Busch appeared to be headed toward his first Sprint Cup victory since last August in Bristol, Tenn., before a late-race caution flag forced a green-white-checkered finish and drastically jumbled the field for the Lap 376 restart. The younger Busch Brother enjoyed a 2.2-second lead over second-place Jimmy Johnson when Scott Rigg's contact with the Turn 4 wall brought out the ninth caution period of the race on Lap 372.

All the cars on the lead lap hit road for fresh rubber, with the big question of whether to go for four tires or just two. Seven teams - those of Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, A.J. Allmendinger, Juan Pablo Montoya and Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- chose to go with only right-side tires and emerged from the pits in front of Johnson and Kyle Busch, who went with four.

Newman and Gordon were able to blast from the field on the restart and hold their lead over the distance, as Newman would claim his first victory since winning the February 2008 Daytona 500 for Penske Racing. Gordon finished second, with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson being able to use his fresh tires to get back up to third. Martin finished fourth and Montoya fifth. Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano rounded out today's top-10 finishers.

Brad Keselowski led the Penske Racing finishing order here today with his 16th-place tally, while Sam Hornish Jr. came home 18th.

Kurt Busch dropped from sixth to 14th in the Sprint Cup point standings after today's race. With seven events in the 2010 record book, he has 834 points and trails leader Johnson by 239 points. He is 114 points behind fifth-place Gordon, 32 points behind 10th-place Earnhardt and he trails 12th-place Kyle Busch by 21 points.

Keselowski currently holds down the 27th spot with 666 points, while Hornish is 30th with 625 points.

"We're looking at a stretch of 13 races in-a-row and a lot of things can happen in the next few months," Addington said. "Like Kurt said on the radio after the race, we certainly lost all the breathing room we had built up in the points here today and we all have to really be on our game in the upcoming weeks. We'll be headed to Texas next weekend with all our guns loaded."

Next Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the eighth of 36 points-paying races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour, is scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. CDT start and will feature live coverage by FOX-TV and PRN Radio.