Kurt Busch Settles for Ninth in Inaugural Kentucky Race

July 10, 2011

SPARTA, Ky. (July 9, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch started tonight's inaugural Quaker State 400 here at Kentucky Speedway from the third position and was able to power to the front and lead two times for 41 laps.  But when the 267-lap battle was decided with a two-lap dash to the finish, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion just couldn't muster the strength he needed at the end.

"We ran up front all night," Busch said.  "Our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge was tight into Turn 1 and loose into (Turn) 3 and we had to keep adjusting for that.  There at the end, we were sixth and two guys stayed out in front of us.  We came in under caution and put four Goodyear's on the car and the car just wouldn't turn after the final restart

"We lined up there for the final two-lap dash just thinking we had them where we wanted them," said Busch.  "We had the fresher tires and the guys in front of us didn't.  Our car was really fast early in the race, but it wasn't as fast as we wanted it once the sun went down and we went racing in the night.  We grabbed another top-10 finish, but I think we'll look back at this one and think we maybe let one slip away late.  We were in the catbird seat on the last restart, but we just couldn't execute.  I'm proud of my guys.  It's hot.  They worked hard all night.  We'll take the ninth-place and head to Loudon."

Busch started tonight's race from the third spot after rain cancelled yesterday's qualifying session and saw NASCAR officials establish the starting grid off of the practice speed chart.  He passed the pole-sitter, younger brother Kyle Busch, on the first lap and hung on to the lead until the NASCAR competition yellow on Lap 30.

The "Double-Deuce" fell to third for the Lap 35 restart and never fell any further back than sixth until the very end of the race.  Busch was running sixth on Lap 254 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. shredded a tire, with the debris it caused bringing out the fifth caution flag of the race.  While Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth stayed out under the yellow and Jimmie Johnson pitted for only right-side tires, Kurt Busch hit pit road for four tires and fuel.

The No. 22 Dodge lined up sixth for the Lap 259 restart and had used the fresh tires to climb to third when Clint Bowyer crashed in Turn 2 to bring out the final caution of the race.

With the four fresher tires, the "Double-Deuce" driver lined up third for the restart with only two laps remaining.  Leader Kyle Busch was leading and running on 26-lap tires and second-place Jimmie Johnson had only the fresher right-sides.  But when the green flag fell, the No. 22 car just could not advance and faded all the way back to the ninth-place finish.

"When we stopped for fuel only and stayed out on the lead lap and caught the caution, we were able to come in and bolt four tires on the car," explained crew chief Steve Addington.  "We tried to be aggressive and the car tightened up a bit; we probably should have just left it alone.  The 00 (David Reutimann) came down on us a bit and jumped sideways off of Turn 2 and that was it on that last restart.  The guys fought hard.  The Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger was fast.  We just didn't have enough at the end to go get us a win and had to settle for another top-10 finish."

At the finish, it was Kyle Busch taking the win by 0.179 seconds over runner-up Reutimann.  Johnson finished third, with Ryan Newman fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.  Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out tonight's top-10 finishers.

After 18 races have been placed into the 2010 record book, Kyle Busch leads the Sprint Cup points with 624 points.  Edwards is second with 620, with Kevin Harvick (614) third, Kurt Busch (606) maintaining fourth and Johnson (605) fifth.  Kenseth (602), Gordon (553), Earnhardt Jr. (548), Newman (538) and Denny Hamlin (529) round out the top 10 in points.

The Sprint Cup tour now heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the first of two races set for the Loudon, N.H. track this season.

This weekend's NHMS action gets under way on Friday with practice set from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. (live on Speed-TV).  Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 3:10 p.m. (live on Speed-TV & PRN Radio).  Saturday's schedule calls for practice from 9:00 a.m. till 10:20 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 11:45 a.m. till 12:45 p.m. (live on Speed-TV).  Sunday's LENOX Industrial Tools 301 (301 laps, 318.46 miles) is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Race No. 19 of 36 points-paying events on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and PRN Radio.