Busch Finishes 19th at Dover in Miller Lite Dodge

May 16, 2010

DOVER, Del. (May 16, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch struggled to a 19th-place finish in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway and he fell a spot to ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. But when the dust had settled, the 2004 series champion actually saw his lead over 13th position in the standings (chase buffer points) grow from 118 to 127 points after 12 races have now been put into the 2010 record book.

"It was just a tough day today for our Miller Lite Dodge," Busch said while cooling off after the race. "We started off half-decent and thought we might have us a top-five or a solid top-10 run going. But, as is pretty typical for us, the track started rubbering up and our car just got tighter and tighter. We chanced it (for track position) one time by staying out after a yellow when we didn't have that many laps on our tires. The car was just that tight and we wound up shredding a right-front (tire). All we could do for the rest of the race was try to get all we could out of it and keep it out of the fence. To tell you the truth, I'm surprised we could get a top-20 finish out of today."

Busch started the race from the 12th position and made it up to fifth on the lap 58 restart after Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. got into the wall to bring out the first yellow flag of the day.

The "Blue Deuce" had fallen to sixth when a round of green-flag stops were the order beginning on lap 130. Crew chief Steve Addington played his cards right and kept Busch out to lead lap 134 and pick up five bonus points before hitting pit road the following lap. However, when the stops cycled around, Busch had fallen to 10th in the order.

Busch had climbed to seventh when Marcos Ambrose got into the wall in Turn 4 to bring out another caution. Busch was seventh on the restart, but began to fall back, noting a growing tight handling condition as well as problems with the carburetor springing for his throttle.

Busch, Addington and crew were 11th at the races mid-point on lap 200 and were back up to 10th on lap 224 when Ambrose got into the wall again to bring out the third caution flag of the race. Even with a 12.622-second pit stop, Busch lined up 11th on the lap 230 restart. The tight handling condition saw him drop to 15th only 15 laps later when Hornish spun down the frontstretch to cause the fourth caution period.

The team discussed pitting strategy and decided to stay out for the track position and clean air up front. Busch was second behind leader Matt Kenseth on the lap 250 restart and put up a valiant effort to keep up with the leaders. But by lap 270, he had fallen to 10th.

Busch amazingly kept his Miller Lite Dodge off the wall on lap 286 when his right-front tire let go and began to shred. The debris was enough for NASCAR to display the caution flag for the fifth time of the race.

The Addington-led "2 crew" methodically worked through their problems, pitting three times and still remaining on the lead leap for the lap 291 restart. However, the torrid pace set by leaders Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson saw the elder Busch fall a lap down on lap 311.

The "Blue Deuce" crew made their final pit stop of the race on lap 355 and Busch managed to get his ride home without any further incident during the remaining laps to finish 19th, running two laps down to the winner.

That winner was Kyle Busch, who finished 7.551 seconds ahead of runner-up Jeff Burton. The younger Busch battled tooth and nail with four-time champion Johnson until Johnson was slapped with a speeding penalty during the final sequence of pit stops. Johnson went on to finish 16th. Kenseth finished third, with Denny Hamlin fourth and David Reutimann fifth. Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano rounded out today's top-10 finishers.

Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman completed the 13 drivers who finished all 400 laps. A.J. Allmendinger, Mark Martin, Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne rounded out today's top-20 finishers.

After 12 races, here's the way the points shake out as for the top-13 drivers: (Kurt Busch is ninth with 1,531 points. He trails leader Harvick by 237 points, is 168 points behind second-place Kyle Busch and is 87 points behind fifth-place Hamlin. He has a 127-point advantage over 13th-place Ryan Newman.)

1) #29-Kevin Harvick [1 win], 1768
2) #18-Kyle Busch [2 wins], 1699, -69
3) #17-Matt Kenseth, 1642, -126
4) #48-Jimmie Johnson [3 wins], 1637, -131
5) #11-Denny Hamlin [3 wins], 1618, -150
6) #24-Jeff Gordon, 1605, -163
7) #16-Greg Biffle, 1581, -187
8) #31-Jeff Burton, 1569, -199
9) #2-Kurt Busch [1 win], 1531, -237
10) #99-Carl Edwards, 1487, -281
11) #5-Mark Martin, 1475, -293
12) #56-Martin Truex Jr., 1434, -334
Chase for the Sprint Cup - Contenders:
13) #39-Ryan Newman [1 win], 1404, 30 points out of the chase

Keselowski is now 24th in the Sprint Cup point standings with 1,210 points, while Hornish is 30th with 1,013 points.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two consecutive weekends of action. First up is the annual non-points Sprint All-Star Race weekend.

This weekend's Sprint All-Star Race weekend gets under way on Wednesday night (May 19) with the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman. Busch will be steering his Miller Lite Dodge in the competition among pit crews set for 7:00 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena (broadcast on SPEED-TV at 9:00 p.m. EDT). The action shifts to the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday with practice set for 1:30 p.m. till 2:50 p.m. Qualifying on Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. will feature the unique format of three laps under the clock with a four-tire pit stop thrown into the equation. Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race will begin after the conclusion of the NASCAR Sprint Showdown "last chance" race at approximately 9:00 p.m. This year's exciting battle calls for a 50-lap/20-lap/20-lap/10-lap format with a four-tire pit stop prior to the start of the final segment. Live coverage will be provided by SPEED-TV and MRN Radio.