Kurt Busch Starting Fourth In Sunday's Homestead Finale

November 19, 2011

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 19, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start Sunday’s Ford 400 season finale here at Homestead-Miami Speedway from the fourth position after turning in a lap of 30.942 seconds (174.582 mph) in today’s qualifying session.  The driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge Charger is hoping to close out his successful 2011 season with a great run here tomorrow and end the year with a solid top-10 finish in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

“We started off way on the tight side and ended up way on the loose side so I was like ‘Hey, let’s shoot for the middle’ and I think we got a good lap in with our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge,” Busch said of his lap around this demanding 1.5-mile track.  “We’ve had some poles this year.  It’s just neat to know that you’re in contention on Fridays or Saturdays when it’s qualifying day because you’ve got Penske horsepower and you’ve got a group of guys that are committed.

“We’ve been hot, we’ve been cold; I guess it’s our description through the Chase as well as leading up to the Chase,” Busch said.  “I wouldn’t be surprised to see us win if we can get it all put together right.  Last week, we had a winning car and we threw it away with fuel mileage.”

Carl Edwards leads Tony Stewart by only three points heading into the season finale to determine this year’s champion and Edwards got off to a great start by winning the Coors Light Pole Award here today.  Edwards’ fast lap of 30.775 seconds (175.467 mph) bettered second-fastest Martin Truex Jr.’s lap of 30.891 seconds (174.808 mph).  Kasey Kahne qualified third with a lap of 30.931 seconds (174.582 mph), followed by Busch in fourth and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski (lap of 30.947 seconds/174.491 mph) fifth in the Miller Lite Dodge.

Matt Kenseth starts sixth, with Jeff Gordon seventh, Greg Biffle eighth, Jimmie Johnson ninth and Denny Hamlin 10th.  Stewart starts his quest for another championship from the 15th spot here tomorrow.

With four drivers tied for the most Coors Light Pole Awards this year (Busch, Biffle, Kenseth and Ryan Newman all with three each) and none of those drivers winning their fourth here today, officials had to resort to the tie-breaker to determine the annual contest winner.  Kenseth will pick up the $100,000 check from MillerCoors during the awards banquet week in Las Vegas in a few weeks because he is the highest-ranking driver in points.  Kenseth would have also claimed the award under the old rules, where outside poles were the determining factor when drivers were tied.

“That will give us a great spot on pit road here tomorrow and we really want to end this season on a high note,” offered crew chief Steve Addington.  “We all know that it’s still such a tight battle there between seventh and 11th in the points.  We want to win this thing and end the season off with everyone remembering that it was our ‘Double Deuce Team’ that celebrated the win in the final race of the 2011 season.”

Sunday’s Ford 400 (400 miles, 267 laps) has a scheduled 3:00 p.m. EST starting time on the 1.5-mile speed plant located at the north end of the Florida Keys.  ESPN-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.