Kurt Busch Takes a Hit, Finishes 36th

Kurt Busch found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time in Sunday’s CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

After running in the top 10 through the first 120 laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Busch lined up ninth for the double-file restart on lap 121. As the field exited Turn 2, another car went into a spin just in front and to the left of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger. Busch turned sharply to the left, but caught the front end of the spinning auto which sent the No. 2 into the inside retaining wall, nose first.

The damage was extensive, requiring a trip to the garage for repairs. Busch returned to the track, but the damage was more severe than crumpled sheet metal and called it a day before the checkered flag appeared. He finished 36th with his first DNF of the season.

“I felt like our car was really strong on restarts,” said Busch. “The adjustment we made had the car a little tight. I just had to wait on it and while waiting, the No. 6 got loose in front of us. I originally thought I hit him, but after looking at the tape, he just spun on his own. I couldn’t go left, (Carl) Edwards was there. If I had to do it all over again, I would have tried to take minimal damage, but nosing into the 6 car’s door wasn’t an option because there was no way I could stop. I tried to turn left, clipped him and it flung us right toward the inside fence.

“After we got the car repaired and went back out trying to salvage a finish and not get a DNF, we had a motor issue. I don’t know if we run it out of water, oil or what. A good day gone real, real bad. Hopefully, we’ve got all our bad luck out of the way.”

Busch dropped two spots in the season point standings. He is now sixth, 178 points ahead of the driver currently 13th in the standings. Three races remain to determine the top 12 drivers that will compete for the season championship and the Sprint Cup over the final 10 events of 2008.

“We just didn’t need that to happen,” said Pat Tryson, crew chief on the No. 2 Dodge. “That’s the double-file restarts with everybody bunched up. The 6 (No. 6) just got loose and we got the worse end of it. Looking at the replay, we never touched him. We had a car very capable of a top-10 finish.”

All three Penske Racing Dodges were involved in mishaps during the afternoon, but in the case of Sam Hornish Jr. and David Stremme, their racecars escaped with minimum damage and both were able to continue.

Hornish, driving the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger, picked up his second top-five in the last three races, finishing fifth at the facility he calls his home track. Hornish fell a lap down, got the free pass but was penalized a lap for pitting twice under the caution. He put himself in position to get the free pass again and took full advantage of the opportunity.

Once back on the lead lap following the sixth caution on lap 146, Hornish used a light foot to conserve fuel and get the No. 77 to the checkered flag.

“It was an eventful day to be sure,” said Hornish. “We’ve got to go back and work on a lot of things. We got the car right when we needed it to be. We all kept our heads and saved enough fuel to get to the end. It was a good day for us. Obviously, we want to be a little bit better. I’m happy about it and proud of all the guys on the Mobil 1 Dodge. “

How much fuel did Hornish have left at the finish? “We’re going to find out when we get back and get the tank drained,” he said. “I saved all the way on that last run. The first couple of laps right after we went back to green, I worked to get as far as I could, but as soon as the cars got singled out, I started saving. Basically, I was only using the gas that I needed to use to get around the track.”

“At lap 130, I was very mad because we did about everything that we could possibly do wrong, but I guess that’s why these races are as long as they are. You can screw it up for 140 laps and figure it out the last 60. The guys on the Mobil 1 Dodge, they stuck with it. It’s a big day for me to come up here and get a top five at Michigan, my home track. It feels pretty darn good.”

Stremme, driving the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, finished 13th. It’s his best finish since the second race of the season at California where he also finished 13th.

“It was pretty crazy out there today,” Stremme said. “We had a lot better car than where we finished with our Penske Dodge. We got spun and took two tires and it didn’t work out. We come back and finished 13th and was really happy about that finish.

“You had to be really patient with the track bar because of how slippery the track was today. The lanes moved around so much that you had to continuously try and find the line that worked best for you. We kept digging all day and got a very respectable finish.”

Kasey Kahne started 43rd in the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger and had to battle his way up through the field. He had to start at the rear of the field because of an engine change on Friday. An ill-handling car made the task a bit more difficult, but a late-race surge earned Kahne a finish of 11th.

“Overall, bringing home an 11th in our Budweiser Dodge was a great effort by everyone on this team,” Kahne said. “It was a great finish considering where we ran all day. We got the best finish that we could. The pit crew did a great job. Considering we started 43rd, we had a lot of cars that we had to pass on a very slick race track and we were able to pass a lot of cars. Kenny (Francis, crew chief) did a great job on top of the box making adjustments to try and get our Budweiser Dodge to handle better. We’ll take the points and be happy to head to Bristol next weekend.”

The other three drivers from Richard Petty Motorsports also had handling issues. AJ Allmendinger finished 22nd, Elliott Sadler was 25th and Reed Sorenson was 29th.

Driver Team Finished
Sam Hornish Jr. No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge 5th
Kasey Kahne No. 9 Budweiser Dodge 11th
David Stremme No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge 13th
AJ Allmendinger No. 44 Super 8 Dodge 22nd
Elliott Sadler No. 19 Best Buy Dodge 25th
Reed Sorenson No. 43 Bumper to Bumper Dodge 29th
Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge 36th

Driver Rank Starts Points Behind Wins Poles T5s T10s
Kurt Busch 6 23 2957 -543 1 0 6 12
Kasey Kahne 8 23 2884 -616 1 0 4 9
AJ Allmendinger 25 23 2206 -1294 0 0 1 3
Sam Hornish Jr. 26 23 2176 -1324 0 0 2 6
Elliott Sadler 27 23 2170 -1330 0 0 1 3
Reed Sorenson 28 23 2087 -1413 0 0 0 1
David Stremme 31 23 1980 -1520 0 0 0 0

NSCS Driver Points after 23 of 36 races

1. Tony Stewart 3,500 +721
2. Jeff Gordon 3,216 437
3. Jimmie Johnson 3,197 418
4. Carl Edwards 2,995 216
5. Denny Hamlin 2,986 207
6. Kurt Busch 2,957 178
7. Juan Montoya 2,887 108
8. Kasey Kahne 2,884 105
9. Ryan Newman 2,845 66
10. Greg Biffle 2,821 42
11. Matt Kenseth 2,811 32
12. Mark Martin 2,791 12 (points ahead of final Chase)
13. Brian Vickers 2,779 -12
14. Clint Bowyer 2,773 -58
15. Kyle Busch 2,721 -70

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  • DodgeDoesIt

    If Kurt and Kasey were driving Challengers, then they would win every race.