Kurt Busch Finishes 13th in NASCAR All-Star Race

May 22, 2011

CONCORD, N.C. (May 21, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch fought and ill-handling car for much of tonight's Sprint All-Star Race and battled back to finish 13th here at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"We just have to get our cars turning better in the corners," said Busch, the defending champion of tonight's race.  "It was a situation where our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge was a real rocket ship for the first three laps of a run, fast and a little on the loose side.  Then, we'd be pretty good for three laps.  Then the handling would go away; it would just go way too tight.

"We got the lucky dog after going a lap down in the first segment and that helped keep us in the game," said Busch.  "Steve (Addington, crew chief) and the guys threw everything they could at it.  When you have to go five rounds on a wedge adjustment like we did that made very little difference, you know you're in trouble.

"If we could have been up there in fifth or sixth at the start of the last 10-lap segment, we might have been able to pull something out.  But starting back as far as we did (12th), it was a case of our car getting too tight too fast and we had to just get all we could out of it."

Busch started tonight's four-segment, 100-lap race from the 16th position.  He had climbed to 10th on Lap 3, but the tight handling condition set in and began to take its toll.  By Lap 17, he had fallen to the rear of the field with Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, who had advanced to the All-Star Race with a solid second-place performance in the preliminary Sprint "Showdown."

Pitting on Lap 25 with all the leaders, Busch took on four tires and fuel, with rear-tire-carrier Larry Robbinett making a four-round wedge adjustment.  The team was slapped with a pass-through penalty for early execution and found themselves a lap down to leader Greg Biffle when the caution flag flew to end the first 50-lap segment.  Busch returned to the lead lap by being the first driver running a single lap down at the time.

Busch restarted 20th for the second segment and was up to 15th after only two laps.  He climbed as far as 13th before Kasey Kahne smacked the wall to bring out another yellow flag.    The team elected to stay out and was 10th on the restart.  Busch was able to advance to ninth when the second segment concluded on Lap 70.

Busch, Addington and crew opted for only right-side tires and another round of wedge adjustment during the ensuing pit stop.  The "Double-Deuce" was up to ninth for the Lap 71 restart.  Fighting and even tighter handling condition, Busch brushed the wall and feel to 13th at the end of the third segment on Lap 90.

During the 10-minute break in preparation for the final 10-lap segment, the team focused on the front-end suspension, working with packers and adjusting the camber.  A 13.171-second pit stop for four-tires during the lap before the field went back to green had Busch up to 12th for the final restart.  Busch was able to climb as high as ninth in the running order before the "pushing" condition again set in and saw the Shell-Pennzoil entry lose positions.

While in the past, many editions of this race featured multi-car crashes, altercations and near fisticuffs during the final segment, tonight's race simply saw Carl Edwards cruise to a 0.443-second win over runner-up Kyle Busch.  The only fireworks occurred when Edward practically demolished his Ford when he was doing a post-race celebratory spin onto the infield grass and encountered a steel-plate covered drainage ditch.

David Reutimann finished third here tonight, with Tony Stewart fourth and Biffle fifth.  Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10 finishers.  Jimmie Johnson finished 11th, with Juan Pablo Montoya 12th, Kurt Busch 13th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14th and Jeff Gordon 15th.  Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray completed the top-17, the drivers who finished all 100 laps.  Keselowski and his Miller Lite Dodge Team were poised to pull out another incredible finish here tonight.  After falling sixth laps down due to braking issues early in the race, they fought back to be only one lap down when the checkered flag flew.  They were credited with an 18th-place finish.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend for the longest battle on the tour, the Coca-Cola 600.  The weekend gets under way on Thursday with practice set from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV).  Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Thursday at 7:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & PRN Radio).  There is no action scheduled at the track on Friday.  Saturday's schedule calls for practice from 11:30 a.m. till 12:15 p.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. (live on Speed-TV).  Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (400 laps, 600 miles) on the 1.5-mile quad-oval track is scheduled to get the green flag just after 6:00 p.m.  The Coca-Cola 600 will feature live coverage by FOX-TV and PRN Radio beginning at 5:00 p.m. EDT.