FORT WORTH (Sunday, April 5, 2009) Penske Racing had three fast Dodge Chargers Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. All three teams had top-10 finishes in their sights much of the afternoon, but two of the three encountered setbacks in the final 100 laps to diminish those hopes. The trio still finished among the top 17 on the lead lap at the checkered flag of the 501-mile event.
Kurt Busch led the group, finishing eighth in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger, his fourth top-10 finish of the 2009 season. It was his eighth top 10 at the 1.5-mile Texas track.
Busch started 28th, but had gained 10 spots by lap 35 and was 10th by lap 86. The first 97 circuits were contested under green-flag conditions, the longest in track history. The previous high was 64 in 2006.
Once in the top 10, Busch stayed with the lead group the rest of the day. He held the point once for a single lap.
It was a really good run for the Miller Lite Dodge, said Busch. We worked on it (the car) and made small adjustments throughout the day. We felt like we couldnt run with the big dogs today (the top five), but could have a good points day. Thats exactly what we needed. I felt that our car was better on the long runs. The short green runs, those didnt help us. We needed to be out there as long as we could and stretch it out. The green-flag pit stops helped us move our way forward.
Busch maintained his hold on third place in the season point standings. Hes 18 points out of second.
Crew Chief Pat Tryson says the team continues to seek improvement. It was a good day, Tryson said. We werent quite as good as we wanted to be. We were real good on long runs, but didnt have enough short-run speed. All in all, it was a good day for the Miller Lite Dodge. If we keep getting these top 10s, well put ourselves in good position for The Chase. Well just keep working on our stuff to make it better so when we get in The Chase, we have something to work with. Our mile-and-half program is pretty good right now, but we need to get it a little better still. We need to get our entire program a little better. Well keep working real hard, go do some testing and see if we cant go catch those guys up front.
David Stremme was running ninth on lap 304 when a mishap in front of him forced the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge into the wall. That contact cut down a tire, bringing out the caution and forcing Stremme to pit road. With four new tires, he was ready to make another charge toward the top 10. He finished 14th after starting 32nd.
It was a real good day for our Penske Dodge, Stremme said. Robby (Gordon) blew an engine and took away the high line in (turns) 1 & 2 and I got into the fence. The guys did a great job all day and gave me good car. Its fun to come back to a mile-and-a-half track and race like we did today. It gives you a lot of confidence for the next 1.5-mile track we go to. Im pretty pleased today.
Crew Chief Roy McCauley was very pleased with his drivers performance.
David did a great job today, said McCauley. We started off in the back and just methodically moved our way up through the field. The Penske Dodge was pretty good, especially on long runs. Long runs were our strong point and we got a couple of those and were able to stay on the lead lap. David did a great job and were really excited about going to Phoenix in a few weeks. I have to tell you, Davids coming (getting better each week). I hope people are paying attention to him because hes coming.
Sam Hornish Jr., running 12th on lap 232 of the 334-lap event, lost the air on his rear spoiler in traffic and the Mobil 1 Dodge lost traction. Hornish managed to elude traffic and the retaining walls. The only repair he needed was four new tires. He finished 17th.
We had a pretty good car most of the day, Hornish said. I had that pit stop there at the end of the race that cost us about three spots in the pits. Im not really sure what happened. The guys have been working real hard and its just a shame that we had to have a bad stop late in the race.
We got a little bit greedy there at the end trying to get our Mobil1 Dodge a little bit quicker. We ended up making the car too tight and I just couldnt do anything with it. We made a top 20 out of our day. It was a solid day for Penske Racing.
A caution during a green-flag pit cycle cost Kasey Kahne and the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge team which started 6th and was running just outside the top 10 when the cycle was halted by the second caution of the day on lap 157. Kahne ended up a lap down and could never get in position to get back on the same lap with the leaders.
We actually had about a top-10, top-12 place Budweiser Dodge today,
Kahne said. We lost a lap somewhere in the middle (of the race) when that caution came out after we pitted under green and we never could get it back. The front end was tight getting into the center of the corner and the back was pretty loose all day. It was disappointing because we had a better car than 19th.
Kahne slipped to 10th in the point standings.
It was also a disappointing day for AJ Allmendinger, Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler. Allmendinger lost several laps with an ignition problem while a faulty fuel pump cost proved costly for Sorenson. Handling problems was the issue for Sadler.
That was a tough day for the Super 8 Dodge, said Allmendinger. We werent that far off. We kind of hung on to the lead lap and then got down a lap when the yellow came out. I thought we were going to have a good chance to get it back, but something happened on the pit stop with the ignition box and we lost a bunch of laps. That stunk. We ran better than what we finished.
THE DODGE BOYS
Driver Team Finished
Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger 8
David Stremme No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge 14
Sam Hornish Jr. No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger 17
Kasey Kahne No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger 19
Elliott Sadler No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger 32
AJ Allmendinger No. 44 Super 8 Dodge Charger 34
Reed Sorenson No. 43 McDonalds Dodge Charger 36
Driver Rank Starts Points Behind Wins Poles T5s T10s
Kurt Busch 3 7 974 -180 1 0 2 4
Kasey Kahne 10 7 851 -303 0 0 1 2
AJ Allmendinger 20 7 731 -423 0 0 1 2
David Stremme 22 7 720 434 0 0 0 0
Elliott Sadler 25 7 667 -487 0 0 1 1
Reed Sorenson 30 7 624 -530 0 0 0 1
Sam Hornish Jr. 31 7 571 -583 0 0 0 0
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
(After 7 of 36 Races)
1. Jeff Gordon 1,154
2. Jimmie Johnson -162
3. Kurt Busch -180
4. Clint Bowyer -187
5. Tony Stewart -191
6. Denny Hamlin -216
7. Kyle Busch -240
8. Carl Edwards -265
9. Matt Kenseth -290
10. Kasey Kahne -303
11. David Reutimann -309
12. Jeff Burton -319
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
OWNER POINT STANDINGS
(Top 35 After 7 of 36 Races)
30. Reed Sorenson 624
31. Sam Hornish Jr. 571
32. Bobby Labonte 543
33. John Andretti 540
34. Robby Gordon 531
35. Joey Logano 510
36. David Gilliland 487
37. Aric Almirola 451
38. Scott Speed 414
Source: Chrysler Media Services