Busch Secures Top-10 Finish at the The Brickyard

July 26, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS (July 25, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch appeared to be headed toward his second career Brickyard 400 top-five finish in Sunday's battle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before getting the nose of his Dodge Charger damaged on a restart with 19 laps to go. Busch fell to 15th, but his Steve Addington-led "Blue Deuce" team regrouped during the final stretch, using two-tire strategy on their final pit stop. That allowed Busch to post his first top-10 finish at Indy since his 2004 championship season and his 12th top-10 tally of the 2010 Sprint Cup season.

"We really had to grin and bear that one," Busch said after climbing from his car back in the garage. "The car was good early on and we came up through the pack. We got some damage on one of the restarts (second to last). These double-file restarts are tough. I didn't know how bad the damage was. We might have finished better, but under the circumstances, that's all we had today. Two tires was the way to go, but somebody apparently checked up in Turn 1 and I got into the car in front of me and got hit from behind. They were square hits to the front and back, but there was enough damage that I couldn't be aggressive at the end. The car wasn't handling. We'll take it. All we had at the end was a 10th.That's probably the hardest 10th we've had all year,"

Busch started Sunday's race from the 14th position and immediately pointed to a severe tight handling condition. When Kyle Busch got loose out of Turn 3 to trigger a multi-car incident and bring out the first yellow flag on the first lap, Addington made a smart move in bringing his driver to pit road. Wholesale changes, including air pressure and track bar adjustments and the removal of a spring rubber, proved to pay immediate dividends.

Although Busch was 27th on the restart, he escaped the tire problems and overheating problems that hampered many of the teams in the early laps and had climbed to 19th on Lap 13. When Robby Gordon shredded a tire on Lap 14, the second yellow flag of the race was displayed. After the restart, Busch made steady progress moving up through the field. When a round of green-flag pit stops cycled through, Busch was up to 11th and he was up to eighth on the Lap 69 restart after the third caution period of the race.

Busch was eighth at the half-way mark (Lap 80) and poised to continue his move toward the front. A caution for debris brought out the fourth yellow flag of the day on Lap 116. During the ensuing restart on Lap 121, the lead pack stacked up entering Turn 1. Busch was hit square from behind, sending him smashing the front end of his Dodge square into the car in front. The damage sustained severely hampered the handing of his car.

Busch had fallen to 15th when debris forced NASCAR officials to display the fifth caution flag of the day on Lap 137. A savvy call by Addington for right-side tires only had Busch back up to fifth on the Lap 142 restart. Juan Pablo Montoya had dominated the race and was the lead driver with four fresh tires on that restart, lining up seventh. That strategy backfired when his aggressive driving trying to catch up led to him crashing on Lap 145 to bring out the sixth and final caution flag.

Kevin Harvick led on the final restart on Lap 149, with Jamie McMurray second, Tony Stewart third, Jeff Gordon fourth and Greg Biffle fifth. Busch was seventh and trying to hold off other drivers with four tires with his ill-handling Dodge.

McMurray quickly got the lead and stretched it out as the race went green for the remainder of the race. McMurray emerged as the winner by 1.391 seconds over runner-up Harvick. Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Stewart rounded out the top-five finishers, with Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch rounding out the top-10 drivers here today.

Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 19th and 30th, respectively.

"We were loose yesterday in practice, so we overcompensated with our setup for the race," Addington explained after the race. "We were able to make changes early and get back up through the field. We took a gamble on two tires which gave us good track position (fifth), but somebody checked up on the restart in Turn 1 and we ended up with damage to the nose of the Miller Lite Dodge. The nose pushed in didn't help us at all. From there, Kurt just couldn't go anywhere, get around anybody. Under the circumstances, it was a good solid point day."

With six races remaining to determine the 12 players in the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, Harvick continues to lead the point standings. With 2,920 points, he has a 184-point lead over second-place Jeff Gordon. Denny Hamlin is third with 2,660; Jimmie Johnson fourth with 2,659 and Kurt Busch fifth with 2,658. Kyle Busch (2,630), Burton (2,615), Matt Kenseth (2,573), Stewart (2,544), Edwards (2,496), Biffle (2,462) and Bowyer (2,446) complete the current "Chase-eligible" drivers. Mark Martin is 13th with 2,384 points.

Kurt Busch currently trails leader Harvick by 262 points. He is 78 points out of second, only two points out of third and a single point out of fourth. He has a 28-point advantage over sixth, a 43-point lead on seventh and an 85-point lead over eighth. His lead over ninth is 114 points and 10th is 162 points. He has a 196-point lead over 11th and a 212-point advantage on 12th. His current "buffer" on 13th was expanded from 253 points to 274 points here today.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now returns to Pocono Raceway for the final battle of the year at the scenic Northeast Pennsylvania facility. The action gets under way on Friday with practice set from 12:00 noon till 1:30 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. (live on ESPN2 & MRN Radio). Saturday's schedule calls for practice from 9:00 a.m. till 9:50 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 11:20 a.m. till 12:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 (200 laps, 500 miles) on the "Tricky Triangle" is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 1:00 p.m. Race No. 21 of 36 points-paying events on the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by ESPN-TV and MRN Radio.