Kurt Busch Collects Fifth Top 10 Finish of Season

 

Kurt Busch recorded his fifth top-10 finish of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season Saturday night in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway as all three Dodge drivers led laps in the 334-lap event.

 

Busch led five times for 50 laps, second only to race winner Matt Kenseth. He finished 10th in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger, one of 12 cars on the lead lap at the checkered flag. In the six previous events this season, Busch has led 51 laps.

 

Several cars were off sequence on pit stops including Busch. While it enhanced Busch’s opportunity to lead, the former Sprint Cup champion still needed the same number of pit stops over the last half of the race. His last stop came with 14 laps remaining as Busch gave up the lead after a 24-lap stint at the front.

 

Although the race was slowed by five cautions, there were five rounds of green-flag stops which continually shuffled the cars at the front of the field. There were 31 lead changes in the race among 13 drivers.

 

“It was just a hard-fought battle all night,” said Busch. “We qualified 10th and finished 10th. We led laps when we were off-sequence, but overall it was a hard fought battle to get the car dialed-in once again. We struggle to make adjustments as we go. We were off-sequence on pit stops which might have helped preserve the top 10. It’s tough. We want to compete for top fives and wins and we’re only getting top 10s right now.”

 

Busch is fifth in the season point standings, 16 behind the leader.

 

“I didn’t think we would be that much off on the setup to start the race,” said crew chief Steve Addington. “It seemed like when we adjusted on the car, we would get different results. It’s a bit of a mystery. We had to use some different strategy and we really shouldn’t have to do that. We should be up front challenging for wins. We just need to get a handle on this thing right now. I’m proud of everyone on this team who worked so hard on the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. We did what we had to do to manufacturer a top-10 finish.”

 

Brad Keselowski finished 18th in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger. He led once for a career-best 32 laps early, but he also was off-sequence on pit stops. Once he dropped a lap to the leaders, the opportunity to recover never came.

 

“We worked our tail off today; got ourselves some track position early in the race, made the most of it and led some laps,” said Keselowski. “That felt really, really good. We just weren’t good enough to stay up there, but we weren’t bad tonight. We were a 10th- to 15th-place car. We didn’t catch any bad breaks, but we didn’t catch any good breaks. We needed to do a little bit better on pit road; we lost some spots there we couldn’t get back.

 

“I thought Kurt (Busch) and I were pretty even. He out executed me a little bit and got himself a 10th. That’s about where we should have been. That’s progress from where we’ve been, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”

 

Robby Gordon led once in the race, the first time he’s held the point since the season-opening Daytona 500. “The crazy thing is, we were as good as the 29 (Kevin Harvick) and he finished 20th, said Gordon. “We just don’t make the most out of our races. We ran with him all night long. Having to back up on one of the pit stops hurt us; that was my fault. All in all, we worked hard. I thought we were going to be a top-15 car. It fired off like that, but all of a sudden, the car just went wicked loose. We never got it fixed.”

 

Nationwide Series
Brad Keselowski, the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide champion, had his best outing of the young season in Friday night’s 300-mile event. Although it was his fourth consecutive top-10 finish in six starts, it was the first time Keselowski challenged for victory right down to the checkered flag. He crossed the finish line a close second to Carl Edwards.

 

Teammate Sam Hornish Jr., making his second start of 2011 in the series, finished 16th despite having to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop for a loose wheel.

 

Keselowski started second in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger and led 16 of the 200 laps. He overcame a tire issue of his own early in the race which required an unscheduled pit stop, but quickly worked his way back to the front and raced in the top three the last 150 miles.

 

“We ran like we did all year last year tonight and made some great adjustments on the car,” he said. “We just came up a little bit short. I felt like if we could have cleared him (Edwards) coming off pit road (after Edwards stopped with 11 laps left) and got the clean air there, I felt like I might have been able to hold him off. “We were both really even there at the end, and it kind of came down to clean air.

 

“I thought that we were really close today. It was a good battle at the end. I hope everybody enjoyed it. I thought that I might be able to get him. He had about six or seven lap newer tires; more importantly he had the clean air and the ability to put his car where he wanted to and he did a good job with that. I think we made some pretty big strides with our Nationwide program this weekend. “

 

For crew chief Todd Gordon, it took away some of the disappointment of his first season as Keselowski’s crew chief. The gremlin has been tire issues. For example, Keselowski took the white flag as the leader at Las Vegas, but cut down a tire going into Turn 1. He still managed to finish third.

 

“We unloaded pretty fast and got a chance to work on our Discount Tire Dodge Challenger from there,” said Gordon. “I felt like if we would have gotten out in clean air, I think we would have driven away from them. Every week is a learning experience for the two of us. Every time we go racing, it helps us get better as a team. A good night for us tonight, that’s for sure.”

 

Hornish qualified 16th and finished in the same spot in the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger. It was his first start since the season opener at Daytona.

 

“We definitely could have brought it home in the top 10 if not the top five,” said Hornish. “We had a wheel issue and had to pit which had us off sequence. We could never get back. I’m really proud of all the guys that work on the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge and look forward to next week, racing two weekends in a row. We were way too free starting off the race. We adjusted the car too much when it was hot and when it cooled off, the car was really loose. We could go after 20 laps, but it was getting to that 20 lap mark.”

 

Crew chief Chad Walter will use the positives as the team prepares for Talladega. “Sam did a good job and all-in-all, the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge team did a good job. This is a team working together for the first time. We would take this car to Talladega, but we’ve got a better bullet back at the shop. That race is a wildcard; anybody can win there. I feel like Penske Racing has really done its homework and we’re going to have something for them next week.”

 

Race Results
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Samsung Mobile 500
Texas Motor Speedway
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Carl Edwards
4. Greg Biffle
5. Paul Menard
6. Marcos Ambrose
7. David Ragan
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Kurt Busch
18. Brad Keselowski
31. Robby Gordon

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Point Standings
(After 7 of 36 Races)
1. Card Edwards 256
2. Kyle Busch -9
3. Matt Kenseth -13
4. Jimmie Johnson -13
5. Kurt Busch -16
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -21
7. Ryan Newman -23
8. Juan Montoya -24
9. Kevin Harvick -28
10. Tony Stewart -43
11. Paul Menard -47
12. Clint Bowyer -55
22. Brad Keselowski -97
31. Robby Gordon -152

Race Results
NASCAR Nationwide Series
O’Reilly Auto Parts 300
Texas Motor Speedway
1. Carl Edwards
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Paul Menard
4. Joey Logano
5. Elliott Sadler
6. Justin Allgaier

7. Reed Sorenson
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
9. David Reutimann
10. Brian Scott
16. Sam Hornish Jr.

NASCAR Nationwide
Point Standings
(After 6 of 34 Races)
1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 218
2. Jason Leffler -14
3. Justin Allgaier -24
4. Elliott Sadler -30
5. Reed Sorenson -30
6. Aric Almirola -31
7. Trevor Bayne -37
8. Brian Scott -45
9. Kenny Wallace -54
10. Mike Bliss -68

– 30 –


  • http://www.diecastcrazy.com MoparBob

    This may sound harsh, but I think Howard Comstock needs to be fired and replaced by someone who is truly proactive.  The DODGE NASCAR effort is lackluster at best.  Junk at worst.  Give the frickkin’ teams what they need to win!  Something BIG is missing.  The bright spot was Brad K’s 2nd place in Nationwide this past weekend.  Sam Hornish held station.  As for Cup…  Embarrassing.  The only way they were able to run up front was pit strategy?  What about power and handling?  Brad and Kurt faded as quickly as they led…  And this is becoming what to expect each week.  As for Robby Gordon, give him the tools to compete, otherwise let him go back to Toyota or Ford, and put those resources back into the Penske organization.  It’s painful to see Robby run so poorly, being a flagship DODGE team.  DODGE as a whole needs to crap or get off the pot when it comes to NASCAR.  It’s bad enough we only have just a few teams representing us fans, and to see them barely keeping pace each week in inexcusable.

  • Mopar_Dodge_91

    @MoparBob: Well I dont see another B+ teams changing over to Dodge (sadly) A few years agao, we had some good teams in our camp (Petty & Ganassi). But they switch over, and both teams are not doing that bad where they are at. Yes I agree, there is something missing in the Dodge camp. It would also help if we would of had a Kayle Busch. Becasue he could also repersent Dodge also in the Truck Series, Nationwide (with Brad K), and winning some Cup races, in a Dodge. I am also a huge Robby Gordon fan, and it does sucks to see where he finish each race.

  • RCrews

    I have heard a rumor that one of the Toyota teams could be moving to Dodge next season but other then Gibbs the Toyota teams are jokes….For the Nationwide Brad needs another full time Penske team like they had last year with Justin….As for Cup Brad and Kurt need to communicate better. Kurt needs consistency to be a factor for the Championship and Brad needs a little more time to adjust to the Cup cars.

  • HEMIhead

    It’s still early in the season yet, but so far I am surprised, and expected better results after last season. Both Kurt and Brad were really strong at the end of last year. Still hoping Kurt can pull off a few wins yet. I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen the blue deuce so far in the back of the pack as much as this season so far. Used to watching it mostly up around the top 10 in the past. I hope Brad finds his MoJo soon.
    I think it would be awesome for Dodge to collect Kyle Busch for next season. I think he’s the “Bad Boy” Dodge needs. If the season stays going for him like it is now, with blown engines and bad luck, he might be interested in a change? Who knows? Kurt and Brad are pretty good being the Dodge Boys, but I think Kyle would be the icing on the cake for “The Dodge Boys”. I have no interest in Toytoya, but I laugh everytime I see Kyle at the front. I love the racer he’s turned into since Hendrick lost him/let him go.
    Take that RH!