Busch Ready for Chase After 18th-Place Richmond Finish

September 12, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 11, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch struggled to an 18th-place finish in Saturday night's Air Guard 400 here at Richmond International Raceway and will begin the 10-race "Chase" for the Sprint Cup Championship from the fifth position. After the points have been adjusted, Busch is shown with 5,020 points and he trails leader Denny Hamlin by 40 points entering the 10-race battle for the points title.

"We were trying something new tonight on the Miller Lite Dodge, knowing that we were already locked into the Chase," offered Busch, who started 21st and climbed as high as sixth before handling woes began to take their toll. "Tonight was an all-or-nothing race for us. We knew that second-place didn't matter, so it made sense for us to try some different things on the Miller Lite Dodge and that's what we did. The bottom line is that we did our homework for 26 races to put ourselves in position to make the Chase and we did our job.

"To make the Chase is a great testament to everyone that works on this Miller Lite Dodge," Busch added. "To represent Miller and Dodge and all of our sponsors in the 10 races to the championship is exciting. We were able to bank the 20 bonus points with our wins at Atlanta and Charlotte which means that we're only 40 points out starting the Chase. It's a whole different season now and it starts next week in Loudon."

Busch started 21st Saturday night and climbed as far up the ladder as sixth. But as the track rubbered in, the Penske Racing "Blue Deuce" Dodge began to lose front grip and fall back. His Steve Addington-led crew used air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments during every pit stop, but nothing would bring their car around. The 2004 champ was able to hang tough and complete all the laps en route to the 18th-place finish.

Up front, it was Hamlin taking the lead after the first quarter of the race and then controlling the pace for the majority of the remainder of the race as he led 251 laps and posted his sixth win of the season. Kyle Busch, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, battled Hamlin to the wire but had to settle for second. Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-five finishers. Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards completed the top-10.

The remaining drivers finishing on the lead lap and scoring finishing positions 11-18, in order were Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch. Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. was credited with a 28th-place finish here tonight.

After tonight's race was completed, the points were readjusted. Here's how the top-12 stack up, with race wins, total points and deficit to the leader:
1) #11-Denny Hamlin [6 wins], 5060
2) #48-Jimmie Johnson [5 wins], 5050, -10
3) #29-Kevin Harvick [3 wins], 5030, -30
4) #18-Kyle Busch [3 wins], 5030, -30
5) #2-Kurt Busch [2 wins], 5020, -40
6) #14-Tony Stewart [1 win], 5010, -50
7) #16-Greg Biffle [1 win], 5010, -50
8) #24-Jeff Gordon, 5000, -50
9) #99-Carl Edwards, 5000, -50
10) #31-Jeff Burton, 5000, -50
11) #17-Matt Kenseth, 5000, -50
12) #33-Clint Bowyer, 5000, -50

"We're in the Chase and we've got as good a shot at winning the champions as the other 11 guys who made it," offered Busch's team engineer Dave Winston. "The key for us is to approach every week like we've run all year. We know that we're a good race team and have proven so the first 26 races. Now it's go time. We've been building toward a 10-race showdown and now it's time to get after it. Kurt's a champion and he knows what it takes to win this thing. We're excited. We can't wait to get to Loudon next weekend."

The 10-race Chase kicks off next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Next weekend's action at NHMS gets under way with Sprint Cup practice on Friday from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. Sunday's 43-car starting field will be determined in Friday's 3:10 p.m. single round of Cup qualifying. Saturday's action includes practice sessions from 9:00 a.m. till 9:50 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. Sunday's SYLVANIA 300 (300 Laps, 317.4 Miles) has a 1:00 p.m. EDT starting time. Live coverage of the race will be provided by ESPN-TV and PRN Radio.