Busch Aims to Build on Momentum at Richmond Before Chase

September 7, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 7, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" team enter this weekend's Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway on a mission. Their goal is clear and Busch, the Sprint Cup titlist from the inaugural 2004 Chase format season, gets right to the point.

"We're focused on winning this weekend at Richmond, picking up those valuable bonus points entering the Chase and going into those final 10 races with a lot of momentum and a full-steam-ahead attitude," said Busch, who locked up a spot in the 2010 Chase with his sixth-place finish at Atlanta last Sunday. "Some of the guys have won more races already this season and have more bonus points built up. We need to try to even the score and get on a more level playing field as we head on to Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) and kick off this year's Chase.

"Richmond has been a really strong track for us through the years and we're looking to continue that level of success there this weekend," offered Busch, who currently sits eighth in the point standings, trailing leader Kevin Harvick by 357 points, but enjoying a 282-point "safe buffer" over 13th-place Ryan Newman.. "We finished second there last September and had a really strong Miller Lite Dodge Charger. The record book looks like we struggled in the spring race there and finished 18th, but it really doesn't tell the whole story. The fact was that we got the car back to the shop and found out that we left the sway bar loose. When that happens, you're faced with trying to tackle a loose race car and that was definitely the case at Richmond back in the May race."

Busch started 13th in last September's battle at Richmond. He held a 95-point advantage over 13th in points and was not quite locked into the Chase, having to finish 20th or better to make the 12-driver roster. After only 16 laps he was up to 10th. He passed Kasey Kahne for fifth on Lap 44 and became a fixture among the top-five for the remainder of the race.

Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Busch were the drivers who spent most of the night running in the top-five spots. Busch's "Blue Deuce" crew made some adjustments during late-race caution flag pit stops that really brought their car to life during the closing laps.

Brad Keselowski's blown engine brought out the 10th caution flag of the race and set up a final 15-lap dash to the finish. In order to positively affect the handling of Busch's Dodge, the crew chose to not put additional fuel in the car on that final pit stop. Busch lined up for the restart in the third spot behind leader Hamlin and second-place Martin. With his car's balance at near optimum, Busch was able to quickly clear Martin for the second spot and he started to go after Hamlin for the lead and the win. Hamlin proved to be too tough down the stretch and Busch had to settle for the runner-up finishing spot.

"For many teams it'll be a situation of absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain in the Richmond race and it certainly has all aspects that could lead up to a really wild battle there on Saturday night," said Busch, who won the 2005 edition this race. "For the teams already locked into the Chase like we are fortunate to be , we'll all be going at it wide open trying to get that checkered flag and the 10 Chase bonus points awarded when they do the seeding next week before the Loudon race.

"For all the other teams, about 25 or more of them, it's a case of trying to get all the glory they can," said Busch. "There's nothing those guys would like to do more than grab the win and steal some of the headlines from the Chase contenders. They know that it's probably the only way they're going to get any attention for their teams and sponsors.

"The thing about racing at Richmond is that it seems like the best cars always come out on top," said Busch. "You have to come in there thinking that the yellow flag will prevail like it normally does and we'll have some restarts at the end of the race. We usually have a period of long green-flag racing in the middle portion of the race, too. With that in mind, we hope to have our Miller Lite Dodge capable of running solid during that stretch and still be adjustable enough to be able to really get after it in a short sprint to the finish if it comes down to that and it usually does."

Busch's Richmond career track record entering this weekend boasts one win (September 2005), three top-five finishes and six top-10s in 19 career starts in Cup competition. He competed in one NASCAR truck series race, starting from the pole and finishing third in September 2000. In two IROC starts at Richmond, he started eighth and finished third in 2004 and started fourth and finished second in 2005.

This weekend's action at Richmond International Raceway will again feature a two-day format for the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour competitors. Action 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 Air Guard 400 (400 laps, 300 miles) Sprint Cup race has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time, with ESPN and MRN Radio presenting live coverage.