Busch Finishes 26th in Miller Lite Dodge at Chicagoland

July 11, 2010

JOLIET, Ill. (July 10, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch struggled to a 26th-place finish in tonight's LifeLock.com 400 here at Chicagoland Speedway. The result dropped the "Blue Deuce" driver back a spot to fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings and left the 2004 series champ searching for answers.

"It was just a tough night for our Miller Lite Dodge," said Busch. "This one has us scratching our heads a bit since we've been so strong on the mile-and-a-half tracks. We must have just missed it tonight. There was just something off on our Miller Lite Dodge and we couldn't get to the bottom of it. We were so loose and there was so much drag in the car that it was just slow.

"I told Steve (Addington, crew chief) that we need to put this car on the chassis dyno and get it back into the wind tunnel to figure out what went wrong -- it's just strange," said Busch. "We got bad-loose and everything that we threw at it didn't make it better. We threw wholesale changes at it including front shocks midway through the race and that's about as good as our car was all night. We got the lap down early in the race and when we finally put ourselves in the spot to get the ‘lucky dog' (free pass back onto the lead lap), we never got the caution we needed.

"We'll take our lumps tonight and press forward," Busch added. "We're still a strong team and our Miller Lite Dodge is really solid. We've got the off-week next weekend and then head to Indy. I'm confident that Steve and the team will have us ready to go for the Brickyard."

Busch started tonight's race from the 22nd spot and was never able to gain ground. A serious loose condition plagued the effort from the drop of the green flag. He was running 26th and the final car on the lead lap when a series of green-flag stops were the order on Lap 93. When the stops cycled around on Lap 97, Busch found himself a lap down to leader Jimmie Johnson.

Addington and crew had already thrown "wholesale changes" at their Dodge, including wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustments, with little benefit. Finally, during the second caution period of the race, the team went for broke and changed both front shock absorbers on Lap 133.

The shock change and another round of adjustments -- on a Lap 184 pit stop under the fourth caution period of the race - finally brought the car to its optimum strength for the race. Busch, however, ran as the "lucky dog-eligible" driver for 57 laps under the green without getting the caution flag he needed to get back on the lead lap. With the race running under the green to the finish, Busch had to settle for only his fourth finish outside of the top 25 during the 2010 season.

David Reutimann emerged with the win here tonight. Unlike during his only other win, which came in a rain-shortened event at Charlotte in May of last year, Reutimann dominated the later stages of tonight's race. The best racing of the night occurred with 70 laps remaining when Reutimann and Jeff Gordon fought side-by-side for the lead lap after lap. At the finish, it was Reutimann taking the win by 0.727 seconds over Carl Edwards. Gordon finished third, with Clint Bowyer fourth and pole-sitter Jamie McMurray fifth. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Paul Menard rounded out tonight's top-10 finishers.

Brad Keselowski led the Penske Racing contingent here tonight with an 18th-place finish, while Sam Hornish Jr. finished 24th.

Busch fell one spot to fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings after tonight's race. After 19 races have been placed into the 2010 record book, Kevin Harvick continues to lead with 2,745 points. Gordon is second with 2,642, with Johnson third (2,557), Hamlin fourth (2,542) and Busch fifth (2,524). With seven races remaining to determine the 12 Chase drivers for this season, Busch trails leader Harvick by 221 points. He is 118 points behind second-place Gordon, 33 behind third-place Johnson and 18 behind fourth-place Hamlin. He currently has a 253-point "buffer" over 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"I'm embarrassed, to tell you the truth," Addington said after the race. "I guess you could figure that we were bound to have an off night like this sooner or later, but it's disappointing just the same. We'll definitely take this car back to the shop and do a full analysis on it. We'll enjoy the off weekend next week and come back with both barrels loaded at Indy for the Brickyard 400."

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now takes a much-deserved weekend off next week before returning to action in the July 25 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.