Fuel Mileage is Key for Busch at Michigan

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway for this weekend’s CARFAX 400, the 23rd of 36 point races on the 2009 Sprint Cup Series schedule.

With only four races remaining in the “Race to The Chase”, the focus is intensifying in and around 12th-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, otherwise known as the “Chase cut-off.” After the season’s 26th race at Richmond on Sept. 12, the top 12 drivers in the season point standings qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s 10-race “playoffs” that determine the series champion.

Heading into Michigan this weekend, Kurt Busch is fourth in Sprint Cup standings, holding a very comfortable 275 point advantage over the 13th position held by his younger brother, Kyle Busch. Meanwhile, Kasey Kahne’s 17th-place finish at Watkins Glen last weekend dropped the Richard Petty Motorsports driver one position to eighth, but he still has a 127-point margin over 13th in the standings.

Seven Dodge teams are entered in the CARFAX 400 seeking to give Dodge its 204th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. All seven drivers are assured berths as they are inside the top 35 in car owner points. Dodge is seeking its 10th win at Michigan.

Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) heads to Michigan with plenty of confidence. In 11 starts at Michigan, Kahne has posted one win and five top fives, including two runner-up finishes. Kahne won the June, 2006 race at MIS after starting from the pole in the rain-shortened event (called after 129 of the 200 scheduled laps were completed).

“There is so much racing room out there that you have to really work on your setup,” Kahne said. “I feel like that is one of the tracks where it is really critical to have a good aero and engine package.

“The racing at Michigan can be great at times, but it always comes to down to fuel mileage. It also can be a race where cars run away and get strung out and there’s not a lot of passing going on. As far as the width of the racetrack and racing groove, there’s plenty of room. If you have a good car, you’ll be able to pass and it will be a fun race.”

Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) continues to build momentum for what seems to be an assured spot in the Chase. He heads to MIS having finished 15th or better in 15 of the 21 races in 2009. Busch, the 2007 event winner, has not been outside the top five in the point standings since Las Vegas (19 races ago). The Penske Racing veteran certainly knows how to get around MIS. He has two wins, three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 17 career starts.

What’s the key for Busch this weekend?

“Fuel Mileage is the key at Michigan,” Busch said. “Seriously, that’s one track that you always expect to have fuel mileage involved in the equation. Mark (Martin) won there in June because of fuel mileage. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. won the first race there last year due to fuel mileage.”

“It’s just the norm — it’s to be expected,” said Busch’s crew chief Pat Tryson. “I’ll bet if you look back at the record book, you’ll see that a huge proportion of the Michigan races were won because of fuel mileage. The reason for that is simple – there are so few cautions on that track. It’s so wide and there is so much racing room, you don’t see guys running into each other like you do on most of the other tracks.”

Other Notes:
• Richard Petty Motorsports is the only four-car team without a DNF — did not finish — in all 2009 point races. The Petty streak has reached 140 starts without a DNF. Kasey Kahne’s DNF at Martinsville on Oct.19 was the team’s last.
• Richard Petty Motorsports will swap crew chiefs and crews on the 43 and 44 cars this weekend. Crew Chief Sammy Johns will now tune the 43 Auto Value Bumper to Bumper Dodge of Reed Sorenson. Mike Shiplett moves from Sorenson’s Dodge to AJ Allmendinger.

What You Need To Know
The Race: CARFAX 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 16
The Time: 2 p.m. (EDT)
The Track: 2 mile road course
The Distance: 200 laps/400 miles miles
Television: ESPN, 1:00 p.m. (ET)

2009 Dodge Motorsports Driver Statistics
Driver Rank Points Behind Starts Poles Wins Top 5s Top 10s Earnings
Kurt Bush 4 2902 -481 22 0 1 6 12 $3,027,084
Kasey Kahne 8 2754 -629 22 0 1 4 9 $3,603,819
AJ Allmendinger 24 2109 2109 22 0 0 1 3 $2,680,328
Elliott Sadler 26 2082 -1301 22 0 0 1 3 $2,548,013
Sam Hornish Jr. 28 2021 -1362 22 0 0 1 5 $2,721,663
Reed Sorenson 29 2011 -1372 22 0 0 0 1 $2,996,914
David Stremme 31 1856 -1527 22 0 0 0 0 $2,867,087

Dodge Driver Career Statistics at Michigan International Speedway
Driver Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish Earnings
Kurt Bush 17 2 3 7 0 290 13 19.4 $1,684,710
Kasey Kahne 11 1 5 5 1 40 14.2 16.8 $1,430,425
David Stremme 5 0 0 0 0 0 26.4 29.2 $442,370
Elliott Sadler 21 0 1 5 0 22 19.1 22.1 $1,730,416
AJ Allmendinger 4 0 0 0 0 1 30.2 29.2 $298,790
Reed Sorenson 7 0 1 2 0 3 29.4 24 $688,473
Sam Hornish Jr. 3 0 0 0 0 2 30.7 24.3 $338,935

Dodge Motorsports Top Michigan Int’l Speedway Finishers
(Since 2001) (all races)
Year Driver Car/Sponsor Team Start Finish
2002 Scott Pruett No. 41 Target Dodge Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates 19 6
2003 Scott Pruett No. 39 Target Dodge Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates 28 2
2004 Casey Mears N0. 41 Target Dodge Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates 16 4
2005 Scott Pruett No. 40 Coors Lite Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates 25 4
2006 Scott Pruett No. 40 Lone Star Steakhouse Dodge Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates 13 6
2007 Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Penske Racing 13 11
2008 Juan Pablo Montoya No. 43 Wrigley’s Big Red Dodge Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates 25 4
2009 Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Penske Racing 5 8

Driver Standings After 22 Races (Chase Field Set Following Race 26)
Pos. Driver Points Point Lead Over 13th Position
1. Tony Stewart 3,383 756
2. Jimmie Johnson 3,123 496
3. Jeff Gordon 3,041 414
4. Kurt Busch 2,902 275
5. Denny Hamlin 2,847 220
6. Carl Edwards 2,830 203
7. Juan Montoya 2,781 154
8. Kasey Kahne 2,754 127
9. Ryan Newman 2,727 100
10. Greg Biffle 2,718 91
11. Mark Martin 2,716 89
12. Matt Kenseth 2,685 58 Final Chase Position

13. Kyle Busch 2,627 -58 Points from 12th
14. Brian Vickers 2,589 -96
15. Clint Bowyer 2,586 -99
16. David Reutimann 2,530 -155

Dodge Weekend Motorsports on TV
(All Times Eastern)

Friday, August 14
12:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Practice at Michigan (SPEED)
1:30 p.m. – Nationwide Series Practice at Michigan (SPEED)
3:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Pole Qualifying at Michigan (SPEED)
5:00 p.m. – Nationwide Series Final Practice (SPEED)
8:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Practice at Michigan (repeat) (SPEED)
9:00 p.m. – NASCAR Now (ESPN2)

Saturday, August 15
12:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Practice at Michigan (SPEED)
1:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Final Practice (SPEED)
3:00 p.m. – Nationwide Series Countdown at Michigan (ESPN2)
3:30 p.m. – Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 (ESPN2)
6:00 p.m. – NASCAR Performance (SPEED)
6:30 p.m. – NASCAR Smarts (SPEED)

Sunday, August 16
11:00 a.m. – NASCAR RaceDay (SPEED)
1:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Countdown (ESPN)
2:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup CARFAX 400 at Michigan (ESPN)
7:00 p.m. – SPEED Report (SPEED)
8:00 p.m. – NASCAR Victory Lane (SPEED)
9:00 p.m. – Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain (SPEED)

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  • PurpleShaft

    Kasey has got to stay in the Chase and keep Kyle out of it. Kasey is a class act and Kyle isn’t.