Kurt Busch


Joey Logano wins Pure Michigan 400 from pole position at MIS


Joey Logano took first at the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway last Friday. It was his first win since joining Penske Racing, and the win wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Logano broke the track record of 203.241 mph previously helped by Marcos Ambrose. Logano’s No. Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion took the track at 203.949 mph. His qualifying lap enters the record books as the ninth fastest pole-winning lap in the history of the Sprint Cup Series.

Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson also bested Ambrose’s record, coming in as the second- and third-place qualifiers for the day. Driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., acknowledged the speed, saying, “The car’s got a lot of grip. I think the track is even more abrasive than the first trip here. The cars are carrying a little more speed than the first trip here in practice and qualifying.”

Overall, it was a pretty good day for Logano on the MIS, which has been described as the sport’s fastest track thanks to the greater amount of banking. He tailed Mark Martin, his childhood hero, in the final stages of the race, finally taking the lead when the No. 55 Toyota ran out of fuel with only three laps to go. Not only did he best Cup veterans Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, but he also moved from 16th place in series points to the number 13 spot. There are still three races left before the Chase for the Championship, and Logano’s momentum might push him far enough to make it.

Logano began racing in 2009 at Joe Gibbs racing. This win was the third in his Cup career and the first for 2013. The risk that Roger Penske took on the young driver has paid off. Penske, former owner of MIS during the early 1970s, called Logano’s win one of the biggest in 30 years. It was particularly meaningful since Penske hails from Detroit.

“What a great time to win, being in Ford’s backyard, being in Roger’s backyard,” Logano said in an after-race interview. “I’m glad to make the most of it.”

Rounding out the race’s top ten were Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

[Photo Source:]

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Todd Gordon named crew chief for Penske’s No. 22

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Penske Racing’s No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger may still be without a driver for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, following the abrupt dismissal of Kurt Busch on Dec. 5, but the team has at least solidified its crew situation. Penske announced that Todd Gordon has been promoted to the crew chief role for the car. He replaces Steve Addington, who announced he was leaving Penske prior to Busch’s departure. Addington has since signed on with Stewart-Haas Racing as Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart’s new crew chief.

Gordon ran Brad Keselowski’s No. 22 NASCAR Nationwide Series car this year – his first with Penske – and the combo scored six wins and six pole positions.

“Our first priority is always to look within the walls of Penske Racing when making personnel decisions,” said Roger Penske. “We want to reward success. The path we are taking with Todd mirrors what we did with Paul Wolfe who led the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge to a Chase berth in 2011. We think Todd can get the job done in the same manner.”

Gordon joined Penske Racing in January of 2011. He and Keselowski quickly developed a driver-crew chief rapport that resulted in another successful season, helping make the No. 22 Dodge one of the premier entries in NNS competition.

“I can’t thank Roger and everyone at Penske Racing enough for this vote of confidence,” said Gordon. “It’s an honor to step into a race-winning team. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is an organization full of talented people who know how to get the job done. I look forward to getting the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge back in Victory Lane.”

The team said that it “continues to evaluate drivers to fill the seat” of the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.

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Kurt Busch wins pole for today’s race at MIS

Pennzoil Dodge, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kurt Busch upstaged everyone again in Sprint Cup qualifying Saturday.

The Penske Racing speedster claimed his third consecutive pole for today’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway with a blazing run in his No..22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.

Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, ripped off a lap at 188.699 m.p.h. It gave Penske its fourth Cup pole in a row this season, with Busch’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, starting first at Charlotte in May. Busch has 15 career poles in 379 Cup races.

“Incredible — a lot of hard work by everyone on the No..22 team,” said Busch after the run. “Our Dodge is fast. It feels great to find good results now. I think we just got back to basics, and the results are showing on the track.”

David Reutimann in the No..00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota qualified second at 188.684, and Matt Kenseth was third in the No..17 Crown Royal Ford at 188.620. Cup points leader Carl Edwards managed only 23rd best at 186.601.

Crew chief Steve Addington made some quick changes to Busch’s car before he qualified after Keselowski missed the setup of the car, which resulted in his No..2 Miller Lite Dodge being too tight. Fighting an ill-handling car, Keselowski managed just 41st.

“It’s nice we have confidence in each other right now to know exactly how much air to put in the tires,” said Busch, whose pole Saturday was his second at MIS in 21 Cup starts. “We were sitting there on pit road the whole time wondering, ‘Do we add air? Do we take out air?’ We watched Brad’s run, and we were in a panic because we really didn’t know where Brad set his car up exactly. It was cool to call the team engineer on the radio back at the truck; he analyzed Brad’s setup versus ours … just a quick check of basically one thing that we gauged, and we saw that he was quite a percentage tighter than us on that check.

“If he was that tight and we were set up that loose, we didn’t need to go any looser with our setup. It was nice to have that correction of watching your teammate go out just a fewcars ahead and still make an adjustment in time.”

Keselowski was understandably not pleased with his performance.

“Not the lap we were looking for,” he said. “We’re not where we want to be with the handling of our Dodge. But if you have a good car, you’ll find your way up (to) the front in the race.”

Busch said he was in favor of awarding points for winning a pole.

“It would be nice to see one point for a pole,” said Busch, who is sixth in Cup points. “But that’s all you could award with this new (points) system.”

Reutimann, who drives for Michael Waltrip Racing, was a little upset he didn’t win the pole.

“It wiggled in the middle down there, and that’s where we lost our time, I think,” said Reutimann of his car in the turns. “I just let it wiggle, and it cost us just enough.”

Roush Fenway Racing’s Kenseth was happy enough with his day.

“I thought it was a great lap,” said Kenseth, a two-time Cup winner at MIS. “We aren’t really known for qualifying, and to qualify third is really good for us. When you look at the times and are only a couple hundredths off, you maybe wish you could do it again. But I felt we got everything we could out of the car.”


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Busch Believes Pocono Really is the “Tricky Triangle”

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Martinsville

NEWS FLASH!!! Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch will be a special guest on Friday night’s edition of “Trackside” on SPEED TV. Join Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond, Darrell Waltrip and guests as they work hard and play hard to bring a fun and insightful show LIVE from the track. Friday night’s show will be live and is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Shell-Pennzoil “Double-Deuce” Dodge Team will be racing their “PRS-744” Dodge Charger this weekend at Pocono. “This is the car that we debuted at Vegas back in March and ran again in April at Texas,” said team engineer Dave Winston. “We led laps and finished in the top-10 in both races. We’ve massaged on it quite a bit the last month in getting it ready for Pocono.” Busch first ran the car in the March 6 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he started 22nd and finished ninth. The team ran the car again in the April 9 Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway where Busch started 10th and finished 10th, leading the race on five occasions for a total of 50 laps. The “PRS-738” (Phoenix car) will serve as the backup Dodge Charger at Pocono.


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Busch Stresses the Importance of Kansas Success

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Fontana

AAA Dodge driver Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led “Double-Deuce” team will be racing their “PRS-754” Dodge Charger in this weekend’s STP 400 action at the Kansas Speedway. “We’re continuing to make progress with our new cars and this is another one of them,” offered crew chief Addington. “That was a brand new car that we had for the 600 at Charlotte last weekend and this is another new chassis we have for Kansas. We’re determined to get everything turned around and we all know that we can’t do that overnight. The biggest thing is that we have to exercise patience during the process and I think we saw a lot of that with the Penske Teams last weekend at Charlotte.”
Kurt Busch “Quick-Stats/Loop Data” for Kansas Speedway (courtesy of NASCAR PR):

· Two top 10s
· Average finish of 19.0
· Driver Rating of 84.6, 10th-best
· 58 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 383 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· 760 Laps in the Top 15 (49.2%), 13th-most
· 164 Quality Passes, ninth-most

KANSAS CITY, Kans. (May 31, 2011) – No. 22 AAA Dodge driver Kurt Busch heads into this weekend’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway looking to post his best-ever finish on the 1.5-mile tri-oval track. One thing for sure is that the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ certainly realizes the importance of the Kansas track on the schedule, especially since a second race was added there for the 2011 season.

“Yeah, it’d be easy to just look at the schedule now and say, ‘Hey, they added another race at Kansas and that’s twice the significance as far as the big picture goes,'” said Busch, who came from behind to post a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. “But the second race at Kansas is much more than just adding a second race. You’d be extremely accurate to label it as doubly important…plus. It’s definitely more than just twice the amount of points on the line.

“The way that our season is laid out now, both of the Kansas races come at critical times on the schedule,” said Busch, who after posting his best finish of the season at Charlotte is back up to sixth in the points standings. “The race there this weekend comes at a point where all the teams are jockeying for all they can get in their focus to make the Chase this year. A win there would go a long way in getting in by grabbing one of the final two spots available for race winners. A solid top-five finish there will help in the effort to get in by being one of the top-10 points guys when we get back to Richmond in September.

“Looking on down the road, when we head back to Kansas for the fall race, it’ll be the fourth race of the Chase,” said Busch, currently 15 points out of fifth. “By then everyone one of the Chase guys will be scratching and clawing for everything they can get. There’s a lot that will happen between this weekend’s Kansas race (the 13th race of 2011) and the October battle (30th of the 36), but it’s easy to see how important both races are.

“With the testing rules that are in place in our sport now where we can’t test at an active track where we race, that only adds to the significance. We’ve added Kentucky to the schedule and that removed a major intermediate track from the possible test schedule. With all the mile-and-a-half tracks that we have on the schedule, it can make or break you with your performances there.

“So where would you go to test for Kansas? The way our schedule is, you can actually look at the first Kansas race as your testing for the second race there. I can guarantee you that our Penske Racing ‘Double-Deuce’ Team will be taking as many notes as we can this weekend at Kansas.

“Even though there is the possibility of the weather and track conditions being totally different from the first race to the second, you still have to come in there with that being part of your game plan. Any track time you can get these days is so important. When we get back to Kansas in October, Dave Winston (team engineer) and all of our guys will be pulling out their notes and data from this weekend’s race and last fall’s race there.”

In 10 career starts at Kansas, Busch is still looking for his first win and first top-five finish there. He has two top-10 finishes with his best tally to date being a sixth-place finish during his successful run to the 2004 series points title. Entering this weekend, Busch has a 20.4 average start at Kansas and a 19.0 average finish. He has led a total of 81 laps there, running at the finish in nine of the races and finishing on the lead lap in six of them.

“I don’t know what it is about the Kansas track,” said Busch. “The year that I won the championship, I finished sixth and that’s been the highlight so far. It’s a flat mile-and-a-half that reminds me of Las Vegas when it was built and flat. It’s just a tough combination. If you’re just a tick off, you feel like you play catch-up most of the weekend and if you unload fast, you’re tough to chase down.”

Busch started ninth and finished 13th in last October’s most-recent visit to Kansas Speedway. His lap of 31.055 seconds/173.885 mph) compared to the lap of pole-winner Kasey Kahne’s 30.920 seconds (174.644 mph) had him starting in the top 10 and hoping to pull out another top-10 finish on the track.

“As hard as it may be to understand with what we’ve fought most of the time this year, we just fought a really loose car for most of that race,” said Busch. “I had a handful of steering wheel most of the day and we did all we could to keep up with the leaders. We made all kinds of adjustments during the race; with air pressures, wedge and even a right-rear spring rubber. We stayed inside the top 10 for most of the race, but just couldn’t gain the track position we needed late. Once the track rubbered-in, our car got tight in the middle of the corners and was tough to drive.”

Busch and his Steve Addington-led “Double-Deuce” Dodge Team will be bringing out another brand new Charger this weekend as they debut their “PRS-754” chassis. “It’s a continuous effort to bring out stronger race cars,” said crew chief Addington. “We are seeing our cars getting stouter, but like I told them last weekend at Charlotte, it’s not going to be an overnight deal to get back up front. We are confident we are headed in the right direction and we’ll get there.”

“We’re super excited to be running the AAA colors on our Penske Racing Dodge this weekend at Kansas,” said Busch. “They are great sponsors and we’re heading in there determined to make them proud of our effort in representing them.”

This weekend’s schedule at Kansas Speedway begins on Friday with practices from 12:30 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. (CDT) and from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. Saturday’s 11:10 a.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday’s 43-car starting field. Sunday’s STP 400 (267 Laps, 400.5 miles) has a scheduled 12:00 noon CDT (1:00 p.m. EDT) starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.


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Busch Ready for “Challenging” Martinsville Speedway

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Bristol

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch returns to Martinsville Speedway for this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 with a positive attitude about Sunday’s bullring battle. The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion has never tried to hide the fact that the circuit’s smallest track continues to present one of his biggest challenges.

“We’re coming back into Martinsville with a lot of confidence and a really positive attitude about racing there this weekend,” said Busch, who finished 17th at Fontana, Calif., on Sunday and is now third in the standings, trailing leader Carl Edwards by 10 points. “I’ll be the first to admit that the Martinsville races have always been so challenging to me and that goes all the way back through my career. But ever since Steve Addington came aboard as our crew chief at the beginning of last season, things have really begun to turn for the better.

“Steve deserves so much credit for rallying the troops every week and having our team’s confidence level up for all of these races,” Busch said of the veteran crew chief who will serve as his team leader for the 42nd race this weekend at Martinsville. ” I told him when he first joined the team that Martinsville was a weak track for me personally and he vowed back then that we’d work hard together in changing that. I think we’ve already made so much progress, but it’s a case of the numbers just not showing that.

“I guess he could see that if there was an Achilles’ heel in the mix of tracks for me, it was this track. He’s been really helpful in our positive attitude adjustment during the two races we’ve been together racing there so far. He has been able to bring the best cars I’ve driven at Martinsville and has our team really prepared for those races. We’re thinking the third time’s the charm and we’ll be able to come out of there with the best finish we’ve had there in years.”

In 21 career Cup races on the picturesque .526-mile paper-clip-shaped track, Busch has recorded one win, two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He has been running at the finish in 20 of the races and has a 97 percent lap completion average (10,211 of 10,519 laps) and finished on the lead lap in nine races. He has a career average start of 19.5 and career average finish of 21.3 at Martinsville.

“The biggest thing I’ve tried to stress to Kurt about racing at Martinsville is to keep his cool, stay focused and hang in there and keep plugging away,” said Addington, who has as much experience on the bullrings of the Southeast as anyone in the business. “It’s a 500-lap race and you have to be running at the finish to have a shot at the win or a solid finish up front. It’s a place that puts a premium on patience like no other track we race on.

“We tested down at Gresham last week just like we did before heading to Martinsville last year,” Addington said of his team’s March 22 testing on the half-mile Gresham Motorsports Park located near Jefferson, Ga. “We did that to make sure our car is ready to go when we unload there at Martinsville on Friday. We need to maximize all the track time they give us in getting prepared for Sunday’s race. We’re confident that will be the case and we can come out of there with a really solid performance and the good finish to go with it.”

When Busch discussed his 10 years of competing on the tough and demanding Martinsville track, it’s evident that Addington has already had a major influence in just the one season they have worked together.

“We’ve run very well there through the years, but you wouldn’t know that by just looking at the statistics,” said Busch. “The biggest thing is that it’s been seldom that we’ve been able to put together a whole race at Martinsville. We’d start out strong and not be able to get the good finishes we needed. Many times we’ve been strong enough to win a 400-lap race there, but the problem is that Martinsville races are 500-lappers, not 400.

“Our races at Martinsville last year were perfect examples of what I am talking about,” said Busch. “We had some of the strongest cars we’ve ever had there and didn’t get the solid finishes we should have. We had a loose wheel that bit us in the first race and some loose lug nuts that were the big culprit there last fall.

“We’re bringing in a brand new Shell-Pennzoil “Double-Deuce” Dodge Charger this weekend and feel like it will be fully capable of getting the job done,” Busch said of the new “PRS-741” chassis. “We were able to shake it down at Gresham last week and look to be really ready to rock and roll with it at Martinsville on Friday.

“We’re looking to hunker down and get all we can out of Sunday’s battle,” said Busch. “I know Steve will be on the radio preaching patience and I’ll do the best I can during the grind. I know what the drill is there. We need to survive the first 400 laps and be in a position to really get after it during those final 100 laps. That’s our game plan and if we execute like I think we can, we’ll be in good shape there late Sunday afternoon.”

This weekend’s Sprint Cup schedule at Martinsville Speedway gets under way with Friday’s opening practice from 12:30 until 2:00 p.m. The final practice is set for Friday from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday’s 500-lap battle is set for Saturday at 12:10 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV). Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 (500 laps, 263 miles) has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. EDT starting time. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.


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Kurt Busch Finishes Seventh In Jeff Byrd 500 At Bristol

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 20, 2011) – Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch battled to a solid seventh-place finish in today’s Jeff Byrd 500 here at Bristol Motor Speedway.  The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion’s fourth top-10 finish in as many races this season has him in sole possession of the points lead.

“It was a good day for us with our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge,” Busch said after the grueling 500-lap battle had been completed.  “We were in good position early on, riding around in third and could see the leaders.  We pushed our car hard on some of the restarts trying to get up there and lead a lap.  It just didn’t seem we had the mojo to compete.  Those guys were pretty tough today.

“Overall, we had a solid day,” said Busch.  “We couldn’t adjust on the car as the race got past halfway.  That seems to be our struggle.  We had another top 10 which is great.  We’ll take that.  It’s a point-leader type effort.  We just want to get up there and try to win one of these things.  We’ll keep pushing hard.”

Busch started 20th in today’s race and made steady progress toward the front.  He cracked the top 15 on the seventh lap and was up to 10th on Lap 43.  A competition yellow on Lap 50 here today due to the tire situation saw the Steve Addington-led team go with four new Goodyears and Busch fell back to 13th for the restart.

By Lap 87, the “Double Deuce” Dodge was back in the top 10.  He cracked the top five for the first time on Lap 146 and held a top-five position for the next 200 circuits around this .533-mile oval.  The track started rubbering in and Busch had fallen to sixth with 100 laps remaining.

He remained a fixture among the top-10 drivers for the remainder of the race except for a brief period when he overshot his pits on a pit stop (on Lap 430 under the seventh caution period of the race) and fell from sixth to 14th for the restart.  Only 15 laps later, he was back inside the top 10 and continued to gain ground until the final laps of the race.

Although Busch never led a lap here today, he did run as high as second-place on two occasions.  He lined up ninth for the final restart on Lap 464 and clawed his way up to sixth with 15 laps remaining.  A three-car battle for fifth was where the action was on the final two circuits.  Busch was on the high line and trapped behind Paul Menard, while Kevin Harvick made the low lane work to his favor and nipped Busch at the line for the sixth finishing position.

Kyle Busch came home the winner here today, with a 0.946-second victory over runner-up Carl Edwards.  It was his fifth career Cup win here and 20th career victory overall.  Jimmie Johnson finished third, with Matt Kenseth fourth and Menard fifth.  Harvick edged out Kurt Busch for sixth, with Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman rounding out today’s top-10 finishers.

“We’ve shown some pretty good consistency so far this season and that’s something our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team is very proud of,” crew chief Addington offered.  “If we can keep it up, we’re hopeful that the wins will come our way.  It really feels good to come out of Bristol with the points lead, but we realize that we have to get stronger to stay up there running with these guys every week as the season goes on.”

Kurt Busch entered today’s race tied with Tony Stewart for the points lead, but Stewart’s 19th-place finish today saw him fall to third in the standings.  After four races have been placed into the 2011 record books, Kurt Busch leads the standings with 150 points.  Edwards is second with 149 and Stewart is third with 138.  Newman also has 138 and holds down the fourth spot, with Menard in fifth with 136 points.

Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski fought back from going several laps down early here today and brought his Miller Lite “Blue Deuce” Dodge home in the 18th finishing position.  His finish today moved him up to 21st in the points (with 89 points).

The Sprint Cup tour now heads out to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for next Sunday’s running of the Auto Club 400 on that 2.0-mile track.  This weekend’s Sprint Cup schedule at Auto Club Speedway gets under way with Friday’s practice from 12:00 noon until 1:30 p.m.  Coors Light Pole Award qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday’s battle is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. local (live on SPEED-TV).  Saturday’s action begins with morning practice from 11:30 a.m. till 12:15 p.m.  The final “happy hour” practice session is scheduled from 12:50 p.m. till 1:50 p.m. Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (200 laps, 400 miles) has a scheduled 12:00 noon PDT starting time (3:00 p.m. PDT).  FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.


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Kurt Busch Finishes Ninth in Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas


LAS VEGAS (March 6, 2011) – Kurt Busch certainly enjoyed his hometown drive in today’s Kobalt Tools 400 here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as he posted a ninth-place finish and left “Sin City” with a share of the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead.  The Pennzoil Ultra Dodge driver’s third top-10 finish in the first three races of the 2011 season has him up front in the points for the first time since after the April 2009 race at Talladega, Ala.

“We gave it all we had,” said Busch, who entered today’s race with a 5.2 average start and a 21.9 average finish at LVMS.  “Steve (Addington, crew chief) made a great call to put us up front early and we were running and just biding our time.  On a restart, I got too racy.  I wanted the lead and get the bonus point and you can’t do that.  You have to race your race, let the race come to you.  I was a little loose, had some rear brake in it, (Juan Pablo) Montoya was close and I spun it around.  The Pennzoil Ultra Dodge Charger had a great run today.  I appreciate my crew for giving me a great car.  We’re right up were we need to be in points and really excited about today’s finish.

“We wanted to win this thing for sure,” said Busch, who cut his teeth on the adjoining “Bullring” three-eighths-mile track.  “I came up just a little bit short in my hometown.  I think I may have pushed a bit too hard early driving the car as hard as I did.  After I got loose in Turn 3 and spun the car, I just settled into the race and tried to start picking off as many spots as I could.  I’m not sure we had the winning car, but we were good enough to be top 10 and get as many points as I could.  Man, once you get stuck back in the pack here, everybody is running the same speed and it’s just really hard to gain spots.  The only way that you can do so is on pit road and have the confidence that your guys are going to do their job (in the pits)  This place is just fast and you’re on the edge every lap of the race.”

Busch started today’s race from the 22nd position and found that track position was a must from the drop of the green flag.  After Busch was describing the track conditions as, “like racing on egg shells out here,” Addington took heed and kept him out on the track during the first two early cautions of the race.

By the third restart of today’s 267-lap battle, Busch was up to second.  The running “off-sync” in the pitting sequence panned out well for the “Double-Deuce” team until he took a wild spin in Turn 4 on Lap 102 to bring out the fourth caution period of the race.  Fortunately, Busch kept his Dodge Charger off the wall.  Busch took responsibility for his spin even though the video showed he may have been pinched down by another car.  But, by the time the field went back to green, Busch was running in the 22nd position.

With Addington calling the shots atop the pit box, Busch and crew were able to grab a position at every opportunity and climb their way back up into the top 10 before the laps ran out.  The excellent calculating by Addington and team engineer Dave Winston kept Busch out an extra circuit on Lap 242 before hitting pit road a final time.  That allowed him to pick up an additional point for leading a lap in today’s race and was key in seeing Busch now tied for the points lead.

“I’m really proud of this race team considering how we started the weekend,” Addington offered.  “We made big changes from the time that we unloaded up to the race.  We really didn’t have to make big changes during the race; just maybe change the track bar a little bit and some wedge, which was about it.  I just want to thank everyone’s effort here at the race track.  They busted their tails to give us a great race car and it showed this afternoon.”

Today’s finish was Busch’s only third career top-10 finish in 11 career Cup races on his home track.  It matched his second-best finish that he recorded here in 2004 and was bettered by only his third-place finish (only top-five finish) here in 2005.  His best finish before today driving for Penske Racing was his 16th in the 2006 race.

Carl Edwards was able to claim the win here this afternoon after a dominant Tony Stewart bounced back from a pit road penalty to finish second.  Stewart was forced to start from the rear on a Lap 157 restart and exercised two-tire strategy on the next pit stop to get him back up running with the leaders.   But at the finish, it was Edwards taking the checkered flag by 1.246 seconds over Stewart.  Juan Pablo Montoya finished third, with Marcos Ambrose fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.  Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Busch and Brian Vickers rounded out today’s top-10 finishers.

After three races, Busch and Stewart are atop the point standings with 113 points each.  Edwards and Montoya are tied for third with 106 each, with Newman fifth (103 points).  Paul Menard is sixth (96), with Truex and Hamlin tied with 95 points, A.J. Allmendinger ninth with 94 points and Earnhardt 10th with 91 points.

Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski finished 26th here this afternoon and is currently 23rd in the standings with 63 points.

While the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour takes a much-deserved weekend off next week, Busch will be attempting to make the field for the GatorNationals NHRA race in Gainesville, Fla.  Busch got his feet wet in a lower division of drag racing last year before moving up to the “real thing” this season.  He is set to test one final time on Tuesday at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park before heading up the road to Gainesville.  Busch will be out to snare one of the 16 qualifying spots in the Pro Stock class.  He will have four qualifying passes to make in an effort to break into the field.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup tour is back in action two weeks from today as the circuit returns to Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch’s self-proclaimed “most-favorite race track of them all.”  The Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City is set to get the green flag on Sunday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m. ET and will feature live flag-to-flag coverage by FOX-TV and PRN Radio.


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