Dodge will be represented by Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship field that will compete for the Sprint Cup over the final 10 races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Busch finished second and Kahne 12th in Saturday nights Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Speedway to lock up their berths.
The points have been reset at 5, 000 for each of the 12 drivers plus 10 bonus points for each win. The leader heading into the first event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next week will be Mark Martin with 5, 040 points after receiving 40 bonus points for four wins so far this season. Kahne starts with 5, 020 (two wins) and Busch 5, 010 (one win).
Busch ran in the top five most of the night and challenged race winner Denny Hamlin for the lead over the final 14 laps. It was Buschs seventh top-five and 14th top-10 finish of the season.
We did what we needed to do tonight to make the Chase, said Busch. It was a conservative race setup for us. We put ourselves up front to try and stay out of trouble. We finally found something that the car liked during the race and Im so proud of our guys. It was really a good run for us tonight and exactly what we needed heading into the Chase.
It came down to the 26th race and we did the job tonight to fight our way into the final 10 races. We did it. Im so proud of everyone on this Miller Lite Dodge. They fought hard all year to put us in a position that were in tonight. The four years that Ive been at Penske, weve made half of the Chase races and Im proud of everyone that played a role.
It gave us a more comfortable feeling to run in the top five all night and try to stay out of trouble. To be in contention to win like that at the end and have great pit stops all night, it shows were ready. Weve got some questions marks, but well sort them out when we get there. Its a moral victory for the team. It gives us a shot at the championship. Were only 30 points behind. Its a whole different game now.
Pat Tryson, who will be leaving the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team at the end of the season as crew chief, is looking forward to the first two stops (New Hampshire and Dover) in the 10-race Chase.
We had a good car all night, Tryson said. I wish we had a little something more for the 11 car (Hamlin). It was a nice solid night to make the Chase. Now we can go after that championship. If it wasnt for a couple of wrecks, we would have been locked in (the Chase) a couple of races ago. That stuff happens. Weve run well all year. Hopefully, we can go give them a run for their money. The first two are good tracks for us. So if we can get out good, well see what happens.
Kahne was never in trouble during the night, but the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger didnt handle as well as it did the previous week at Atlanta when Kahne picked up his second win on the season and built a comfortable cushion in the Chase standings.
Kahne started fifth and ran in the top 20 throughout the night, finishing 15th.
It feels great to make it in the Chase, said Kahne. We wanted to run a little better tonight, but we did enough to make it into the Chase. Im proud of everyone on this Budweiser Dodge team. Kenny (Francis, crew chief) called a great race and put us in position to stay up front and not get caught up in someone elses mess. Im happy for all the guys that work so hard to put our Budweiser Dodge in a position to make the Chase. Its a great feeling.
Francis said the Budweiser Dodge was a handful. We were just too loose off the corner all night, he said. We could never get it to where we liked it, but we kept chasing it and got it to the point where we were about a top-10 car. We made some gains on it, but more importantly, we did what we had to do to make the Chase.
Were in the Chase. Its a real relief for everyone to make it. Its big for the whole organization at RPM and Dodge and Budweiser and all our partners. Were just looking forward to putting together some good runs the next 10 races and give them all we got.
Sam Hornish Jr. posted his second top-10 finish of the season at RIR. He started 33rd but had worked his way into the top 10 by lap 170 and remained there the rest of the race. He ran as high as fifth and settled for eighth at the checkered flag. Hornish finished sixth in the spring event.
It was a good night for this Mobil 1 Dodge team, Hornish said. We had to come from the back and were able to get another top-10 finish. We had a tough pit stall and had a few problems getting out just based on where people were running on the track. The Mobil 1 crew did an outstanding job and I’m proud of our entire team effort tonight.
Driver Team Finished
Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge 2
Sam Hornish Jr. No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge 8
Kasey Kahne No. 9 Budweiser Dodge 12
Reed Sorenson No. 43 Reynolds Wrap Dodge 16
AJ Allmendinger No. 44 PVA.com Dodge 23
David Stremme No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge 26
Elliott Sadler No. 19 Insignia/Best Buy Dodge 34
Driver Rank Starts Points Behind Wins Poles T5s T10s
Kasey Kahne 5 26 5020 -20 2 0 5 10
Kurt Busch 7 26 5010 -30 1 0 7 14
AJ Allmendinger 24 26 2455 -2585 0 0 1 3
Sam Hornish Jr. 26 26 2434 -2606 0 0 2 7
Elliott Sadler 27 26 2416 -2624 0 0 1 3
Reed Sorenson 28 26 2416 -2650 0 0 0 1
David Stremme 31 26 2289 -2751 0 0 0 0
Sprint Cup Chase Standings
1. Mark Martin 5, 040
2. Tony Stewart 5, 030
3. Jimmie Johnson 5, 030
4. Denny Hamlin 5, 020
5. Kasey Kahne 5, 020
6. Jeff Gordon 5, 010
7. Kurt Busch 5, 010
8. Brian Vickers 5, 010
9. Carl Edwards 5, 000
10. Ryan Newman 5, 000
11. Juan Montoya 5, 000
12. Greg Biffle 5, 000
Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Richmond International Raceway
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009
Race 26 of 36
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kurt Busch
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Mark Martin
5. Kyle Busch
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Brian Vickers
8. Sam Hornish Jr.
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Ryan Newman
Other Dodge Drivers
12. Kasey Kahne
16. Reed Sorenson
23. AJ Allmendinger
26. David Stremme
34. Elliott Sadler
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