Kurt Busch Finishes 38th in Monday's Heluva Good! at the Glen

August 15, 2011

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 15, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch crashed out of today’s weather-delayed Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen here at Watkins Glen International and was credited with a 38th-place finish.  Brake issues had plagued the 2004 Sprint Cup Champ from the early going and finally took their toll working Lap 49 when excessive brake heat broke the bead in a front tire and sent Busch’s Dodge straight into the outside tire barrier.

Today’s result was the first DNF (did not finish) for Busch since the Aug, 15, 2010 race at Michigan 36 races ago.  Busch fell two spots back to sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings.

“I had a big problem getting into the braking zones today, the rear brakes locking up,” Busch said after emerging from the mandatory checkup at the infield care center.  “I had to crank eight rounds of front brake in our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge just to try to survive.  All that does is generate brake heat and I blew out the left-front tire.  It was just a bummer of a day and not anything that we expected.  It must have been something with the brake package.  Whatever (Brad) Keselowski found at Road Atlanta (who crashed in testing on that road course almost two weeks ago), I had a problem with today.”

Busch started 27th in today’s race and, even though his Dodge was not handling like he wanted, he began a charge toward the front.  Trying to get around Dale Earnhardt Jr. and break into the top-20 on the fourth circuit, Busch spun out rather than make contact.  That flat-spotted his tires and forced him down pit road early in the race.

Busch emerged from the pits just in front of then leader A.J. Allmendinger.  The No. 43 Ford driver forced the issue to put the No. 22 Dodge down a lap.  Busch found himself wedged between leader Allmendinger and second-place Kyle Busch.  Already cranking rounds of front break in order to maintain his slowing ability, Busch got into the rear of Allmendinger in the “bus stop” turn.  Allmendinger shot though the grass and fell back, having to hit pit road shortly thereafter.

Busch found himself firmly back on the lead lap when Greg Biffle’s stalled Ford caused the first yellow flag of the race on Lap 28.  The Steve Addington-led Shell-Pennzoil crew called Busch down pit road the next time around for four tires and fuel.  The team took their time in repairing the hole in the front end that was the result of the earlier contact.

Busch was 27th on the Lap 32 restart.  He climbed as high as 17th before the brake problems led to the tire blowing out and the resulting crash on Lap 49.

“My brakes just locked up,” Busch said of the incident with Allmendinger.  “We put new master cylinders on the car and I was locking up the rear brakes.  I’m sorry I ruined his day and his chances today.”

The battle up front for the win was a dandy.  Kyle Busch was in control of the lead and holding off Marcos Ambrose when the fourth and final yellow flag flew with four laps remaining in the race when Paul Menard’s crashed Chevrolet dropped debris and fluid on a large area of the track.  Busch was fighting braking issues of his own.  The race was forced into overtime with a green-white-checkered finish on tap.

Busch slipped off the track after the restart, allowing Brad Keselowski to get by for the lead.  Ambrose and Martin Truex Jr. also got around the No. 18 car for positions.  Ambrose was able to clear Keselowski for the lead to take the white flag.  David Reutimann had a wild crash on the final lap to see the race end under caution.  Several other drivers got involved in the aftermath.

Ambrose became the fifth first-time winner this season.  The victory came in his 105th career start and it was Ford’s first win on a road course since 1996.  Keselowski claimed the runner-up spot, with Kyle Busch charging back to finish third.  Truex and Joey Logano completed today’s top-five finishers.  Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya, Allmendinger, Jeff Burton and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-10.

After 22 races have been put into the 2011 record book, Kyle Busch leads the points with 752.  Carl Edwards is second, also with 752.  Johnson holds down the third spot with 746.  Harvick is fourth with 738 and Kenseth fifth with 724.  Kurt Busch (712), Jeff Gordon (700), Ryan Newman (686), Earnhardt (670) and Tony Stewart (659) round out the top-10 in points.

With only four races remaining to determine the 12 teams competing in this year’s Chase, the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver is 40 points out of the lead, 34 points out of third and 12 points out of fifth.  Most importantly, Busch has a 78-point “buffer” over 11th-place Clint Bowyer.

Penske Racing teammate Keselowski is on an impressive roll.  After winning last week’s race at Pocono to record his second win of the season, the Miller Lite Dodge driver finished second here today and shot up to 14th in the point standings.  The “Blue Deuce” driver is 58 points out of the top-10, but has a virtual lock on grabbing one of the two wild card spots in making the Chase.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the 2.0-mile Michigan International Speedway next weekend.  Action gets under way on Friday with practice set from 12 noon till 1:30 p.m. (live on ESPN2).  Qualifying for all 43 starting positions is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. (live on ESPN2 & MRN Radio).  Saturday’s schedule calls for the final practice from 10:10 a.m. till 12:00 noon.  Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (200 laps, 400 miles) on the 2.0-mile track in Michigan’s scenic Irish Hills region is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 1:00 p.m.  Race No. 23 of 36 points-paying events on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by ESPN-TV and MRN Radio.