Busch Hopes To Make Up For "One That Got Away" at Bristol

August 18, 2010

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 17, 2010) - In his last visit to Bristol Motor Speedway, Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch started on the outside pole and dominated the March 21 Food City 500, but was forced to settle with a third-place finish. The 2004 Sprint Cup Champ and five-time Bristol winner is returning for this weekend's Irwin Tools 500 looking to make amends for coming up short in the spring race.

"It's definitely the proverbial one that got away as for the races our Miller Lite Dodge Team should have won this season," offered Busch, who sits 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings and is 215 points ahead of 13th with three races remaining to determine the 12 Chase players this season. "Having cars as strong as ours was in the March race at Bristol is something you dream about. Then, not being able to capitalize on it and make it to Victory Lane was a real bitter pill to swallow.

"We're hoping to get back to Bristol and have just as strong of Miller Lite Dodge Charger as we had there in the spring," said Busch, who has a 19.1 average start and a 13.2 average finish at B.M.S. after 19 career races there. "We want to be that dominant again, only this time around we certainly don't want to let the win slip through our fingers like it did there in March."

When Busch pulled down on pit road after finishing third in the spring race, he climbed from his Miller Lite Dodge to confront a waiting throng of media members. The 2004 series champ did not hold back the emotion of the moment. "I'd rather lose to any of the other (42) cars out there than the 48 car," said Busch, tipping his hat toward race-winner Jimmie Johnson after he thought he was going to beat the Chad Knaus-led Hendrick Motorsports team in impressive fashion. Does he have any regrets today for his comments after the March Bristol race?

"Absolutely not," said Busch. "I know there was a lot of emotion coming through there on pit road right after the race when I said that. But even though that was going on five months ago, I still feel the exact same way. The way things have played out since then, that feeling is probably stronger than ever. I'd rather lose to any other team out there than to the 48.

"You can take that as a compliment or interpret it any way you want, but it's the truth," Busch continued. "The record book shows that they've won the last four championships in a row. I guess it's true when they say that if you want to be the man, you've got to beat the man. I poured my heart and soul into trying to beat the 48 and win the race at Bristol in the spring. I just hope I can have that big of opportunity to get the job done this time around."

Busch started from the outside pole in the March Bristol race and showed his Miller Lite Dodge's strength from the drop of the green flag. He was able to motor by pole-winner Joey Logano to lead the first lap of the race and went on to lead 10 times for the race-high 278 laps. Busch led stretches as long as 58 and 65 laps during the mid-section of the race, which was completed in its entirety but slowed by cautions three times for rain.

Great pit work all race long by the "Blue Deuce" crew saw Busch continuously enter the pits first and exit in that same position until late-race strategy came into play. Busch, crew chief Steve Addington and crew had taken the lead from Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski on Lap 414 when the race returned to green after the ninth caution period of the day. Busch had separated himself from second-place Johnson and appeared to be headed toward his sixth career win on the high-banked half-mile before the 10th caution flag of the race was displayed on Lap 484 for debris.

The immediate call on the "2 team's" radio was for four fresh Goodyear Tires, with Addington also calling for a two-pound increase in air pressure for the right-side tires. All the front-runners headed to pit road, and Busch and Johnson both took four tires on the final stop. Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart all took two tires, giving them the first four positions on the restart. Busch emerged from the pits in fifth, Johnson was sixth and the race resumed with 10 laps to go.

Busch had to line up in the low lane while Johnson had the preferred high lane for the restart. Busch hoped that he could maneuver Edwards, who lined up just in front of him, to slow the upper line of cars, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, Kenseth's difficulty getting up to speed stacked up traffic behind him, including Busch, who lost his opportunity to leapfrog his way to the front. Not Johnson, though. He weaved through the mess up to second, Stewart moved into the lead, and Johnson needed just one lap to pick him off, too. Busch finally cleared Biffle for the third spot with five laps remaining, but couldn't make up any additional ground during the final laps. At the checkered flag, it was Johnson taking the win by 0.894 seconds over Stewart. Busch finished third, with Biffle fourth and Kenseth fifth.

"We just got bottled up behind the 99 (Edwards) on the inside lane (on the last restart)," Busch recalled. "The guys on the inside lane were on two tires. The outside (lane) seemed to prevail all day long. That's where the 48 was able to restart. We beat him off pit road, but he still got the preferred lane. When luck shines your way, it shines your way. It was just a case of us having a great effort that day, but we just came up short and finished third."

This weekend's action at Bristol Motor Speedway gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 12:00 noon till 2:00 p.m. The final practice for the Sprint Cup cars is set from 2:45 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. on Friday (live on SPEED). Saturday night's 43-car starting field will be determined in Friday's 5:40 p.m. single round of Cup qualifying (live on ESPN2). Saturday's Irwin Tools 500 (500 laps, 266.5 miles) Sprint Cup race has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and PRN Radio presenting live coverage.