Kurt Busch Finishes 13th in Hollywood Casino 400

October 10, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Oct. 9, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch finished 13th in today’s Hollywood Casino 400 here at Kansas Speedway and fell two spots to sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.  With six races remaining to determine the 2011 series champion, Busch is 16 points out of the lead.

"Track position is so important at this place and we fought tooth and nail all day to get it,” Busch said after the race.  “We got behind in qualifying and had to start 17th.  We ran from 15th to 20th most of the day and caught a break when we got the lucky dog to get back on the lead lap.

“We gambled after the fourth caution and didn't pit, with Steve (Addington, crew chief) coaching me to save fuel,” added Busch.  “We were a lap shy on the fuel calculation and hit pit road when most of the other guys pitted with less than 25 to go.  That guaranteed us to be good on fuel.  We got up to seventh when the 24 blew an engine to set up the green-white-checkered.  We stayed out because we just had never been that great on new tires.  It was like everybody behind us did pit, so that might have been our best move. We were still a top 10 car when the green-white checker came out and just couldn't hold on to a top 10.  The fresher tires got us."

Busch started 17th here this afternoon and his Dodge Charger was a handful from the drop of the green flag.  Fighting a tight handling condition that would blend into a “loose in, tight in the center and loose off” situation during the run was a challenge for Addington and crew.  The awkward scenario they faced was that for the final 20 laps of a run, the “Double-Deuce” was among the three fastest cars on the track.

The 22 crew threw the whole gamut of adjustments at their car during the race with air pressure, track bar & wedge changes applied.  They even knocked in a spring rubber during the final stages of the race.

During a stretch of 119 laps between cautions, Jimmie Johnson had just cleared Busch to put him a lap down on Lap 205, but the team caught a break when only the third caution flag of the race flew the following lap for debris in Turn 3.  Busch and crew went from running 15th and a lap down to running back on the lead lap after earning the “Lucky Dog” free pass.

Addington and crew attacked their car with the air pressure, track bar and spring rubber adjustments on their Lap 208 pit stop under the yellow and Busch was 13th on the Lap 210 restart.  When Landon Cassil spun into the infield grass on Lap 219 to bring out the fourth caution, Busch stayed out on the track.  He led on the Lap 224 restart and was running third when the fifth yellow flag of the race flew on Lap 240 for debris.

Addington called Busch down pit road under the yellow for right-side-tires and additional fuel to guarantee making the distance…plus.  Busch was fourth on the Lap 245 restart and had faded to seventh when Jeff Gordon’s engine let go on Lap 265.

Busch found himself on the border of pitting or not.  He stayed out and all the cars behind hit pit road for a final time for fresh tires.  When the race returned to green for the final two-lap overtime scamper, Busch fell from seventh to 13th at the finish line.

“It was one of those darned if you do and darned if you don’t situations,” offered Addington.  “Kurt had said that he just couldn’t get the boost from fresh tires like some of the others could and that’s why we just stayed out.  The fresh tires worked for some of them like the 99 car (Carl Edwards), but some of the others like the 14 (Tony Stewart) just couldn’t advance with them.

“It’s a day where, surely we were hoping for better, but we know it could have been not so good,” said Addington.  “We were running between 15th and 20th most of the day.  We led the race and got the bonus point.  We sure would have liked to finish up there in borderline top-five, but have to settle for 13th.  There are still six races to go and a ton of stories will be told about the points situation between now and Homestead.”

Johnson held off runner-up Kasey Kahne in the green-white-checkered finish by 0.548 seconds to take the victory here today.  Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski continued his strong late-season run by finishing third in his “Blue Deuce” Miller Lite Dodge.  Matt Kenseth finished fourth, with Edwards fifth.  Kevin Harvick finished sixth, with Clint Bowyer seventh, Greg Biffle eighth, Marcos Ambrose ninth and Mark Martin 10th.  Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart rounded out today’s top-15 finishers.

As for points, Edward’s incredible comeback from two laps down here today sees him with the lead by one point over Harvick (2,161 to 2, 160).  Johnson is third with 2,157, Keselowski fourth with 2,150 and Kenseth fifth with 2,149.  Busch shows up sixth in the standings with 2,145 points, meaning he is 16 points out of first, 15 out of second, 12 out of third, five out of fourth  and four out of fifth.

The Sprint Cup tour now heads back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for next weekend’s Bank of America 500.  This weekend’s schedule at Charlotte Motor Speedway begins on Thursday with practice from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m.  Qualifying is set for 7:10 p.m. and will determine all 43 starting positions for Saturday’s race.  Friday’s schedule calls for practice sessions from 4:30 p.m. till 5:15 p.m. and from 5:50 p.m. till 6:50 p.m.  Saturday’s Bank of America 500 (334 laps/501 miles) has a scheduled 7:30 p.m. ET starting time, with ABC-TV and PRN Radio providing live coverage of all the action.