Busch Pulls Out Third-Place Finish in New Hampshire

June 27, 2010

LOUDON, N.H. (June 27, 2010) - Miller Late Dodge driver Kurt Busch brought his Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" machine home in the third finishing spot in today's LENOX Industrial Tools 301 here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion and three-time winner here came very close to claiming his fourth victory in a performance that had many scratching their heads in wonder.

Busch started third here today and was able to lead laps during a green flag pitting sequence, but he had fallen back to 10th and appeared to be headed toward that type of finish before some late-race cautions. Busch and his Steve Addington-led team definitely saved their best for last here this afternoon.

"It was really a great day for us," Busch said of his seventh top-five finish and 10th top-10 here in 19 starts. "All in all, we battled hard to get where we ended up. To finish third with where we were with 60 laps to go was definitely an overachievement.

"It just comes back to where I think (we are) with our short-run speed, we were able to hang in there and put up a good battle," Busch said of his tenacity demonstrated here today. "We just didn't have overall speed throughout the day. We saw some guys get out there and stretch the lead, like Kasey Kahn and Jeff Burton, the 48. They came up battling through the pack and he was checking out for a while. But for us, to take a fifth- to tenth-place car and throw it into third place at the end, even giving it a shot to win; that was a great feeling to know that, hey, we can battle these guys and we just came up a bit short."

In a race that saw only four cautions slow the torrid pace and a race that featured a record 201 consecutive laps under the green flag, Busch was running 10th when Kasey Kahne's blown engine brought out only the second yellow flag of the race on Lap 237. After a four-tire stop during that caution period, Busch was eighth on the Lap 245 restart. He had climbed to fifth when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed on Lap 282 to bring out the third yellow.

Addington called for right-side tires only during the ensuing stop and Busch was fifth on the Lap 287 restart. But his daring maneuver through traffic had him up to second when Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch got into each other to bring out the fourth and final caution period on Lap 289.

The "Blue Deuce" driver managed to wrestle the lead from Jimmie Johnson after the final restart on Lap 294 of the 301-lap battle. Johnson, however, was able to mount a charge to get back around Busch with two laps to go and a hard-charging Tony Stewart passed Busch for second on the final lap.

"I thought it was a great short-track battle," offered Busch when asked about his scrapping with Johnson down to the wire. "It wasn't because he did something that I had to do something, or since I did something, he had to do it back. Driving down into turn three, I saw my window, and it was a perfect time to go for it, because our car was good on the short run, and once four or five laps got on the tires, I knew we were going to have a hard time holding them off and he was still going to be right there. So, just a classic, get in the corner a little bit deeper than the guy. We didn't just flat-out wreck them. We didn't cut his tire. We didn't drive over him. It was just a nice nudge that we are all used to seeing and appreciating on short tracks.

"The thought was 10 points winning would look a lot better stacked in our deck than his chip count," added Busch. "That was the original thought. Driving into turn three, I had all intentions of passing him on the inside and trying to cut underneath him at the apex. I just got into him a little bit in the left rear and nudged him up and we were able to squeak on by. Your motive is always to pass a guy clean and you always want to make sure that when you do pass him, that he's not completely upset with you and then we'll go and race again if he's going to come back and try to pass me at the end, and he did, he did great."

At the checkered flag, it was Johnson taking a 0.753-second victory over Stewart, with Busch third, Jeff Gordon fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth. Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out today's top-10 finishers. Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski finished 23rd and 26th, respectively.

After 17 races have been put into the 2010 Sprint Cup Series record book, Harvick continues to lead the point standings with 2,489 points. Johnson is second with 2,384. Kyle Busch is third with 2,328, with Denny Hamlin fourth (with 2,304) and Gordon (2,302) fifth. Kurt Busch continues to hold down the sixth spot with 2,288 points. Matt Kenseth (2,204), Burton (2,159), Stewart (2,158), Greg Biffle (2,126), Mark Martin (2,047) and Carl Edwards (2,020) round out the current top-12 (and Chase-eligible) drivers. Earnhardt is in 13th, only three points behind Edwards.

With nine races remaining to determine this year's Chase contenders, Kurt Busch is now 201 points behind leader Harvick, 96 points behind second-place Johnson and only 40 points behind his brother in third. He is only 16 points behind fourth-place Hamlin and 14 behind fifth-place Gordon. He holds an 84-point lead over seventh-place Kenseth and a 129-point advantage over eighth-place Burton. He stretched his "buffer" over 13th-place Earnhardt from 243 points to 271 points with his finish here today.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now returns to Daytona International Speedway for next Saturday night's Coke Zero 400, the third of four restrictor-plate races on this year's schedule. Next weekend's Daytona International Speedway action gets under way on Thursday with practice set from 4:00 p.m. till 5:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 6:35 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & MRN Radio) and all cars will be impounded immediately afterwards. Saturday's Coke Zero 400 (160 Laps, 200 Miles) is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. EDT. Race No. 18 of 36 points-paying events on the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.