Busch Striving for Michigan Win for Dodge

June 8, 2010

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 8, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch wants a victory in Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway for the Dodge brand of Chrysler and he certainly is quick to point that out.

"When we race at Michigan, we're right there in the backyard of all the ‘Big Three' auto manufacturers and everyone wants to win for the brand they represent," said Busch, who has put Dodge into Victory Lane in two points-paying races and the non-points Sprint All-Star Race so far in 2010 entering this weekend's battle on the 2.0-mile MIS oval. "When we get out there on Sunday for the race, it's like all the manufacturers have moved their temporary headquarters to Brooklyn, Mich., for the day. We'll be doing everything we possibly can to put our Dodge Charger into the winner's circle and party down with all our great friends at Dodge."

Busch is certainly close to being accurate in his assertion that MIS will serve as "temporary headquarters" for the Dodge, Chevrolet and Ford representatives on Sunday. Although Dodge's home office is in Auburn Hills, Ford's in Dearborn and Chevy's in Detroit, there undoubtedly will be enough manufacturer top brass roaming the confines of MIS to warrant Busch's analogy.

"We have such a great relationship with Ralph Gilles (brand president and CEO) and all the folks at Dodge and they are super supporters of Penske Racing," said Busch, currently up to fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings after an impressive comeback run to a sixth-place finish at Pocono Raceway last Sunday. "We've been so proud to take Dodge to Victory Lane in the Atlanta and Charlotte points races and in the big Sprint All-Star Race win. But, winning this weekend at Michigan - at their home track right there in their backyard - would be extra cool and extremely gratifying.

"There are always big bragging rights when you win at MIS," said Busch, who has now won eight points races during his career behind the wheel of Dodge race cars. "Years ago when I won at Michigan (driving a Ford), I got a personal letter from Edsel Ford. Those types of moments are special and everyone pushes hard at MIS to win for their brand. That'll certainly be the case this weekend and we'll be doing everything we can to win again for Dodge, for Miller Lite and for all our great sponsors."

A win in Sunday's battle at MIS would add to the special memories that Busch already has from his 18 career races to date on the track located in the scenic Irish Hills area of Michigan.

"Michigan has been the site of a lot of special memories through my career, that's for sure," said Busch, who enters this weekend with a 196-point "buffer" over 13th-place Tony Stewart. "Of course, our two wins rank up there at the top of our memory list. I think the fact that they were so different - the way we won those two races - really makes them so distinctive in my mind.

"That win back in 2003 was a big thrill because we were able to pass Jeff Gordon for the lead late in the race and then hold off Bobby Labonte at the end to win it," Busch recalled of the June 15, 2003 Sirius 400 at MIS. "We never led a lap until about 25 laps to go. We had a great car that day for the short haul and it paid big dividends.

"I remember getting around Jeff for the lead and thinking, ‘Oh boy, we've got it made now,'" said Busch. "But we had three cautions during the final laps that kept it close. The final yellow came out with 10 laps to go and it bunched us all back together again. It all came down to holding off Bobby Labonte, one of my biggest heroes through the years. He tried to make a run on the high side and I had a car strong enough to hold him off."

The win was Busch's seventh career victory and third (of what would be four) of the 2003 season. The victory behind the wheel of the No. 97 Roush Racing Ford came on the same weekend that the Dearborn, Mich.-based manufacturer celebrated its 100th anniversary.

"Our win in the 2007 August race at Michigan was one of my very favorites and for so many reasons," Busch said of his most recent victory at the track in the Aug. 21, 2007 3M Performance 400. "We started back in 15th and I didn't know if we had a car that was strong enough to run up front until after a competition yellow early in the race. It was just a matter of getting through the traffic and up there.

"We were up into the top-10 about 40 laps into the race and in the top-five about 20 laps later. Our car was set up where we were getting off Turn 2 so well. We had a long period of green and moved up to second. When a round of pit stops cycled around, we were running second to (Matt) Kenseth. We caught him and got around for the lead just after the race was half-way. We went on to dominate the remainder of the race and really put a whipping on them. It was a great win for Penske Racing, for Miller Lite, for Dodge - for everyone involved.

"As easy as it is for us to remember that great day we had at Michigan, I'm sure others will probably tell you that it was hard to forget," Busch said with a chuckle. "Some called it the '72 Hours of Michigan.' We got rained out on Sunday and came back on Monday, only to get rained out again. We finally caught a break on Tuesday. We ran under green and yellow until the fog lifted. The most incredible thing that'll always stick out in my mind was standing there in Victory Lane and looking up in the stands to see the huge crowd. It was a tremendous outpouring of fans that came out for a race held on Tuesday. It really was incredible."

This weekend's Michigan International Speedway action gets under way on Friday with practice set from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 3:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & MRN Radio). Saturday's schedule calls for practice from 11:00 a.m. till 11:45 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 12:20 p.m. till 1:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 (200 laps, 400 miles) on the 2.0-mile track is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1:00 p.m. EDT. Race No. 15 of 36 points-paying events on the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.