Our own Kurt Busch earned his 23rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory Sunday in dominant fashion, leading a race-high 76 of 110 laps in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger at Infineon Raceway. Buschs winning margin of four-seconds over second-place Jeff Gordon was never in jeopardy and continued a month-long hot streak that includes three poles and a race win. It was the second win of the season for Dodge. Brad Keselowski gave Dodge its first victory earlier this month at Kansas.
Kurts win vaulted the 2004 series champion three positions to fourth in the Sprint Cup driver point standings. Hes only 34 points behind the leader. Buschs win at the 1.99-mile, 12-turn road course was the first road-course victory of his career and first win since the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May, 2010. Buschs previous best finish in 10-career starts at Infineon was third in 2005.
After dominating Fridays practice, the driver of the Double-Deuce was a bit off the mark in qualifying, posting the 11th fastest lap. With track position always a key at Infineon, Busch would need a fast race car and great race strategy to contend for a win. He got both. The fastest car all day, Busch drove to the front of the field on lap 13 and led all but 21of the final 97 laps.
It was an unbelievable setup, said Kurt. Once we got into the groove with this car, it seemed to get better after lap five or six. Our cars have never done that before. Im real proud of this Dodge team, everybody from Shell and Pennzoil. If that doesnt inspire you to go get a SRT8 Dodge Charger, I dont know what will. That was an awesome handling Dodge. Im so proud of these guys for stepping up after what weve been through. Man, weve been on a high these last few weeks.
Led by crew chief Steve Addington, the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge team elected to go with the two pit-stop strategy over the course of the 110-lap race. With a fast race car and incredible fuel mileage, Busch only needed to get to the race lead and let his Dodge Charger do the rest. Once in clean air, Addingtons race strategy and Buschs fast race car easily pulled away from the 43-car field. It became apparent very early in the race the No. 22 Dodge was the car to beat.
We stuck to it, our strategy, said Steve. We had a game plan. Kurt said he was going to try to get a couple of positions there at the start. I was thinking, okay, if we start 11th, we’ll get to 7th or 8th. He drove by everyone, took the lead. That made it easier on me and my guys to make a decision. We felt like we had the speed in our car to go to our designated lap before stopping. It didn’t matter what everybody else was doing.
The next stop for our hard Charging drivers will be the Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway on July 2.