Accident Leaves Busch with 33rd-Place Pocono Finish

August 2, 2010

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 1, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was engaged in a torrid battle for a top-10 spot late in Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross 500 at Pocono Raceway when contact from Jimmie Johnson's Chevy sent him crashing hard into the outside wall. The incident which occurred on lap 164 of the 200-lap battle led to a 33rd-place finish for Busch and is the first time in 21 races this season where the Penske Racing driver was not running at the finish. The results here today dropped Busch from fifth to seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings with five races remaining to determine the 12 players in this year's "Chase" for the championship.

"I got wrecked on the straightaway," Busch said of the incident. "Jimmie Johnson drove straight through us. We fought a tight condition much of the race, but we were still ran in the top 10. On one set of tires, the car was just really, really tight and we fell back to 16th. On that last caution, we decided to stay out for track position because everybody still had to make one more pit stop. We were running 10th and just got run over."

Busch started Sunday's race from the 14th spot after rain showers in the area saw the battle start almost one hour later than scheduled. Busch moved up to ninth on the second lap of the event and became a fixture among the top-10 competitors. After a competition yellow on lap 16, more than 100 laps of green-flag racing were the order until the second yellow flag of the race fell on lap 121.

During that long period, Busch's Steve Addington-led "Blue Deuce" crew continued to address a "tight in and loose off" handling condition as Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon shared times at the point. Even with the handling issues, Busch was able to run from seventh to ninth through all those laps and three different green-flag pitting sequences.

After the lap 122 pit stop which saw Busch get a minor air pressure adjustment, he lined up 10th for the lap 126 restart. A severe tight condition ensued and saw Busch fall to 17th before a caution for debris flew on lap 145. Addington and crew went with a four-tire change on Lap 146 and Busch lined up 16th for the lap 150 restart.

Busch had climbed to 12th on lap 157 when Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s spin brought out another caution flag and closed up the field. With another band of showers closing in on the area, Addington went for track position instead of hitting pit road during the caution.

Busch was 12th on the lap 162 restart. Things got physical in a hurry, with three and four-wide racing into every corner. Busch was in the middle, between Clint Bowyer and Johnson, heading into the Tunnel Turn working lap 165. Johnson rolled out of the throttle briefly and moved directly behind Busch. Instead of continuing to feather the throttle, Johnson got back on the gas hard and drilled Busch's rear bumper, sending the No. 2 Penske Dodge shooting straight across into the outside wall and triggering a melee that eventually created another horrendous crash by Elliott Sadler. Johnson later communicated on his team radio that his intention was to "bump draft" Busch out of the turn.

The incident caused a lengthy red-flag period and set up several different strategy moves during the pit stops that followed when the race returned to yellow. Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr., who had been laps down earlier in the day, gambled that the rain would hit the track and stayed out to assume the lead. The precipitation got so heavy that NASCAR officials had to again bring out the red flag and park the cars on pit road - with Hornish still posted as the leader.

However, the race was eventually able to return to the green. Greg Biffle took the lead from Hornish on lap 180 and cruised on to a 3.598-second victory over runner-up Tony Stewart. Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin completed the top-five finishers. Gordon, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Martin Truex and Johnson rounded out the top-10.

Hornish led the Penske Racing trio of drivers on Sunday afternoon with an 11th-place finish, while Brad Keselowski came home 20th.

Busch's 33rd-place finish dropped him to seventh in the Sprint Cup point standings. With 2,722 points, he trails leader Harvick by 358 points. He is 169 points behind second-place Gordon, 98 behind third-place Hamlin and 81 behind fourth-place Johnson. He trails fifth-place Burton by 35 points. His "Chase buffer" over 13th-place Martin now stands at 192 points.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour now heads to Watkins Glen International, in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, for next Sunday's Heluva Good! at the Glen. It will mark the final road course race of the 2010 season. This weekend's action at Watkins Glen International gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 12:00 noon till 1:50 p.m. and from 4:10 p.m. till 5:30 p.m. Sunday's 43-car starting field will be determined in Saturday's 11:10 a.m. single round of Cup qualifying. Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen' Sprint Cup race has a 1:00 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and MRN Radio presenting live coverage of the 90-lap, 220.5-mile battle.