Busch Finishes 18th at Richmond on Saturday Night

May 2, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. (May 1, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch battled back to finish 18th and on the lead lap in tonight's Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400 here at Richmond International Raceway. However, the frustrating evening saw the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ drop a spot to eighth in the point standings after 10 races have been put into the 2010 record book.

"Just a struggle tonight with our Miller Lite Dodge," Busch said after the race. "One of the keys to Richmond is to be able to get your car to turn in the center of the corners, and we just couldn't all night. No grip at all for us. It felt like I was on four banana peels at times with this tire. Loose in, tight in the center, loose off. Forward bite was an issue all night. This tire just got us again this year. Steve (Addington) and the guys threw everything at this car tonight, just a tough, tough track here tonight with an ill-handling race car."

Busch started 16th here tonight and ran in the top-10 briefly during the middle of the race. The common "loose in, tight in the center and loose off" syndrome bit early in the race. Addington and crew used track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments throughout the race in their attempt to remedy the situation.

The "Blue Deuce" fell a lap down to the leaders when Busch hit pit road during a green-flag pitting sequence on Lap 141. The team played "catch-up" for much of the remainder of the race, finally getting the "lucky dog" free pass to return to the lead lap when the sixth caution flag of the race flew with 10 laps remaining in the race. Busch hit pit road under the yellow with eight laps remaining for four fresh Goodyear Tires and hoped to gain spots in the run to the finish.

"If we'd just gotten the ‘lucky dog' when the 20 car did, we might could have gotten a decent finish out of the night," Busch said of the fifth caution of the race on Lap 380, when he was running on Joey Logano's bumper as the yellow flag was displayed. "As it was, when we came off pit road, we had to line up with all the lap down cars between us and the other guys and that was just too much ground to make up in so few laps. It was just a very frustrating night for the Miller Lite Dodge Team."

The late-race cautions in the race set up a drama-filled finish. Kyle Busch started from the pole and had the dominant car for the first half of the race. Jeff Burton powered by the younger Busch Brother for the lead on Lap 230. Jeff Gordon chased down Burton and grabbed the lead on Lap 250.

Gordon appeared to be headed toward his first Cup victory since the April 20009 Texas race until the late cautions closed up the field. Busch was among the group of lead-lap cars who pitted under the fourth yellow of the race on Lap 366. He was sixth on the Lap 377 restart, but two cautions and 19 laps later, Kyle Busch was able to duck under Gordon for the lead on Lap 396 and cruise to his first win of the 2010 season. Gordon held on for second, with Kevin Harvick finishing third, Burton fourth and Carl Edwards fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose and Jimmie Johnson rounded out tonight's top-10 finishers.

The other lead-lap finishers that rounded out the top-18 were, in order, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski (highest-finishing Penske Racing entry), David Reutimann, Logano, A.J. Allmendinger and Kurt Busch. Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. finished 36th after crashing late in the race to bring out the final caution flag.

The Miller Lite Dodge driver dropped a spot to eighth in the point standings after tonight's race. With 1,255 points, Kurt Busch now trails leader Harvick by 212 points. Here is the way the top-15 drivers shape up after 10 races. Included are position, car number, points and deficits:

1) #29-Kevin Harvick [1 win], 1467
2) #48-Jimmie Johnson [3 wins] 1457, -10
3) #18-Kyle Busch [1 win], 1358, -109
4) #17-Matt Kenseth, 1348, -119
5) #16-Greg Biffle, 1334, -133
6) #24-Jeff Gordon, 1305, -162
7) #11-Denny Hamlin [2 wins], 1268, -199
8) #2-Kurt Busch [1 win], 1255, -212
9) #31-Jeff Burton, 1247, -220
10) #5-Mark Martin, 1242, -225
11) #99-Carl Edwards, 1227, -240
12) #33-Clint Bowyer, 1213, -254
Chase for the Sprint Cup - Contenders:
13) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 1209, 4 points out of the chase
14) #56-Martin Truex Jr, 1196, -17
15) #14-Tony Stewart, 1160, -53

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads to the historical old Darlington Raceway for next weekend's annual racing classic at the "Track Too Tough To Tame." This weekend's Darlington action gets under way on Friday with practice scheduled from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. and from 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. Friday's 5:10 p.m. single round of qualifying will establish Saturday's 43-car starting field, with all cars impounded immediately after the session. Saturday's SHOWTIME Southern 500 (367 laps, 501.3 miles) has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.