Kurt Busch Claws his way to a Second Place Finish at Pocono

After a hard fought battle, Kurt Busch posted his best finish of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season here Sunday at Pocono Raceway, driving his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger to a second-place finish in the 5-Hour Energy 500 on the 2.5-mile track.

 

Busch started from the pole at the triangle-shaped track, led three times for 37 laps and was never outside the top five.  The race came down to a battle between Busch and race winner Jeff Gordon over the final 80 laps.  Both came to pit road for the final time on lap 178 of the 200-lap event with Gordon the leader and Busch a close second.  Both had flawless pit stops, but Gordon maintained the advantage on exit.  Busch finished three seconds back at the checkered flag.

 

It was the second straight pole of Busch.  He started from the point last week at Kansas and led 152 laps before finishing ninth in what turned out to be a fuel-mileage race won by his teammate Brad Keselowski.  Busch relinquished the lead with nine laps remaining to make a stop for fuel.

 

“It was a great run,” said Kurt of his runner-up finish.  “It’s pleasing to see that result.  I’m exhausted.  It was a hard-fought battle with Jeff Gordon at the end.  We ran him strong, we ran him hard.  It started with about 70 to go.  We were able to take the lead and stretch it out.  Then there was a caution.  The 24 beat us out of the pits and that was the difference. I’m real proud of our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge today, our team, and our teamwork.  To finish second is a good feeling.  Even though it’s a backup, it was a strong car today.  We were working it hard today.  I’m thankful to have good equipment and thank Roger Penske and the Dodge team.  We were good enough to win today.”

 

Keselowski started 20th in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, but had made his way into the top 10 by lap 50.  Running in the top 15 on lap 78, he radioed crew chief Paul Wolfe and crew the car had developed a vibration.  He made an unscheduled trip to pit road on lap 80, replacing all four tires.  That didn’t correct the vibration.  The problem turned out to be a broken left rear shock mount.  The team corrected the issue only to have it break a second time.  Keselowski finished 23rd.

 

“I think we had a top-five car there at the end when it mattered,” he said.  “We had a broken shock, got it fixed and then it broke again.  It’s just unfortunate.  We had a really, really strong car and didn’t capitalize on it today.  We did what we could, but there are some things you just can’t overcome.”

 

Keselowski slipped one spot to 22nd in the standings, but he’s only 13 points out of 20th.

 

Our Dodge Chargers will be back at it next weekend at the Michigan International Speedway.

 


  • http://www.westcoastchallengers.com West Coast Challengers

    Good effort by both driver and team.

  • HEMIhead

    Great job Kurt! If the caution had to come out you would have had the win!
    Nice job by Kurt’s teams also. I like what this is turning into.
    Now if Jr. had to slam into the wall, that would have made my day. (without injury of course!)

  • Mopar_Dodge_91

    I didnt see the race. I was wiped out from the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. But finishing 2nd is great. Something must be changing over at Penske….

  • RobbieinVA

    Looks as if our boys have something figured out.  We need this this title to show Fiat how valuable Nascar is to them which inturn will get them to maybe expand their effort and get the King back.

    Robbie

  • http://www.diecastcrazy.com MoparBob

    There’s no denying the improvements over at Penske coupled with some luck.  By no means are they in a position to light the world ablaze.  However, what gives with DODGE Motorsports and Robby Gordon? There was the big announcement at the beginning of the year with all the fanfare and excitement of Robby being factory-backed and then half way through the season Robby’s team is a start-and-park? Either give the support to Robby so he can win, or put those resources (if there even are any in the first place) behind a DODGE loyalist like Brian Keselowski, who embarrassingly is now in a Chevy… Sheesh.
     

  • RobbieinVA

    Couldn’t agree more although not surprised about Gordon’s results.  The guy has had factory support from all four makes the last few years and nothing has changed.  He has not been competitve since leaving RCR and that’s been years now.  The Keslowskis have been even more loyal to Dodge than Petty has so it is a bad situation.

    Robbie

  • tr4petty

    Absolutely agree about Brian Keselowski!  I hate to see K-Automotive have to turn to Chevy to get support!  The Keselowskis are one of the only Nascar families that have a long history of being Mopar folks.  Why doesn’t Dodge support people like that ?!?!?!?
    Brand loyalty should be fostered, not snubbed!
    Anyway, CONGRATS to Kurt for his pole and 2nd place finish at Pocono.  It seems that Penske has gotten things going in the right direction for a change.  GOOD LUCK to them the rest of the season.  They’re the ONLY team, with ONLY two cars, that us Nascar/Dodge fans have to crow about!