Busch To Start 25th at Darlington

May 6, 2011

 DARLINGTON, S.C.  (May 6, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start 25th in Saturday night’s SHOWTIME Southern 500 here at Darlington Raceway after turning in a lap of 27.665 seconds (177.755 mph) in a backup Dodge Charger.  Busch was relegated to his backup racer after crashing his primary car in practice due to issues with his right-front tire.
“We ended up blowing a right-front tire that sent us straight into the fence on the last lap of practice,” Busch said of the incident that brought out the red flag as rain moved into the area and curtailed the practice to only one hour for the entire afternoon.  “Just a tough day.  We had a great plan in place to go out there early in practice and post a lap that put us third overall.  If qualifying got rained out we’d been third on the grid.  But with the backup, we’d had to go to the rear so I guess it was better the way things turned out.
“Qualifying at the “Lady in Black” is never easy and trying to do it with a back-up car is a bigger challenge,” Busch added.  “We had to go to the back-up car and once the rain came in and wiped out the rest of practice, we just didn’t get the chance to put any laps on the car to shake it down.  It is what it is.  We dug ourselves a hole and will have to fight our way up through the pack tomorrow night in our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.”
Kasey Kahne won the Coors Light Pole Award with the fastest lap of 27.131 seconds (181.254 mph), clipping second-fastest Ryan Newman’s lap of 27.255 seconds (180.429 mph).  Denny Hamlin (27.300 seconds/180.132 mph) will start third, with Carl Edwards (27.323/179.980) fourth and Jeff Gordon (27.346/179.829) fifth.  Marcus Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski (27.460 seconds/179.082 mph) rounding out the top 10 starters.
Saturday’s SHOWTIME Southern 500 (367 laps, 501.3 miles) has a 7:30 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.

(Courtesy of Dodge Motorsports PR)
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RACING AT DARLINGTON?  “I love Darlington.  With the great finish with Ricky Craven here, I’ll never forget that.  I still think that the more that I tell that story, I’ll have a chance at winning one day.  I finished second by two-thousandths of a second, that’s the way it goes.  I finished in the top-five here last year with a third-place run.  It depends.  You get the different phases with different chassis or with the way that the body is and just the general competitiveness of the car.  You hope that you get a solid finish every time out.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TIRE TEST AT INDY?  “It was an interesting tire test to say the least.  We got rained out the first morning, got on the track about 1:30 p.m. on the first day and then we broke a motor two hours into it.  Just all kinds of shots that we’ve been taking left and right.  For Goodyear, the way that the combination went was there were a set of tires and a set of runs that we did, so we did four total runs of eight laps each.  We saw cords right away and then developed into some other scenarios they wanted to try and did 15 lap runs and didn’t have problems.  So now, it’s just a matter of them going back through the information.  I think all of the drivers did all that they could to give feedback. There wasn’t just one specific tire that jumped out at us that said, ‘hey, pick me.’  It’s a matter of going through and filtering the information.  Reading about how we’ve solved the tire issues, I don’t know.  It’s just a matter of that track is diamond cut.  It really chews up tires fast and it’s up to Goodyear to choose the right tire.  We gave them all the information that we could with the teams that were there, so we hope for the best.”
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE CHANGES AT PENSKE THAT YOU ALLUDED TO EARLIER?  “I feel like we’ve made great adjustments with what we’re doing internally and that’s to better understand how to build a better car.  There’s been great feedback and everybody’s listening.  Yeah, it wasn’t the best forum to go out there on Saturday night and talk about things.  We’ve just, in my mind, seen things deteriorate and I’ve held it in, held it in and it wasn’t the right spot to do so.  Now that people are listening, I think that we’re going to do some good strides and try to advance it.  We need Brad Keselowski up there in the top 10 in points with us.  That’s what we need; we need the cars more competitive and I think that we know that.  Crossing the line and singling one person out, we’ll he’s the one person that’s got us in this position and it’s up to all of us to make sure that we’re better at the end of the day.”
DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULDN’T GO KNOCK ON A DOOR.  IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU DIDN’T FEEL COMFORATABLE GOING TO SOMEONE WITHIN PENSKE?  “There’s always been an open door policy to talk with Roger (Penske) and he’s always open to listening for what needs to happen.  Things happen slowly sometimes.  When you see things from the cockpit, you notice how fast things go and where you’re struggling.  If it’s a common theme and yet you continue to knock on the same door and nothing is happening, then there are issues.  We need to put egos aside.  For me, I’m willing to talk to anybody or listen to what happen.  I feel like we have a great forum now with the way things have been opened up this week.  It’s just not being pushed under a rug now.”
YOU’RE A FAN OF OTHER SPORTS.  WHAT DIFFERENTIATES THE SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE FROM OTHER SPORTS?  “The atmosphere is just as electric as it is at other sporting venues in other professional sports.  What’s fun for us is that everybody is there.  It’s just not a group of specific all-stars. Everybody has a chance to be in the race.  At the same time, what sets it apart is that there are no points.  At the end of the day, there is a winner.  It does mean something.  With the Pro Bowl, it’s an all-expense paid trip, so to speak, to Hawaii to enjoy the end of the season.  With the NBA all-star game, it happens right in the middle of their season and who wins, East of West, it doesn’t matter.  With Major League Baseball, you have the win, now that American League team or National (League) team gets home field advantage for the World Series.  There’s the fun part of winning (the Sprint All-Star Race), of course the cash is key when you’re out there racing for no points.  At the same time, you get the experimental value of learning something new with the team and if you wad the race car up and walk away, you can laugh at it.  Whereas, at the Coke 600, you wad the car up you feel like you’ve lost all those points and you’re digging out of a hole.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE YOUNG GUYS STRUGGLING TO GET RIDES AS COMPARED TO WHEN YOU AND KYLE CAME INTO THE SPORT?  “I think that the way it was 10- to 12-years ago, there were rides out there with quality sponsors looking for those young drivers with all the potential in front of them.  Drivers were thrown into some rides and expected to swim with the sharks.  If you could swim, you’d made it.  If you didn’t, you really don’t hear their names anymore.  I had a rookie class of five rookies and now we really struggle to find the rookies out there.  A guy like Kevin Harvick was Rookie of the Year my (first) year.  I finished second in the Rookie of the Year standings.  We had guys like Ron Hornaday, Casey Atwood, Andy Houston, so half the field, you know, o