Weekend Preview: Kurt Busch Seeks Elusive Restrictor-Plate Win at Daytona


DAYTONA, Fla., (July 1, 2009) – The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the ‘World Center of Racing’ for this weekend’s Coke Zero 400 at historic Daytona International Speedway. The 2.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway is the 18th stop on the 36-race, regular-season schedule. Seven Chargers are entered in quest of Dodge’s third win of the season and 16th overall at DIS.

With only nine races remaining in the ‘Race to the Chase’, this weekend’s restrictor-plate racing throws a wild card into the deck that’s sure to be stacked with excitement. Heading into the event, all eyes continue to be on the top 12 positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings. Only 71 points separates eighth to 14th and a mere 17 points separates 10th to 14th. Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch currently sits fourth while Richard Petty Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne is 13th, only one point shy of the final Chase spot.

This weekend also celebrates the 25th anniversary of “The King” Richard Petty’s 200th win. Petty won the 1984 Coca-Cola 400 at DIS.

Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) may be the best Cup driver who has never won a restrictor-plate race. In 17 career starts at Daytona, Busch has amassed an amazing eight top-fives and nine top 10s without earning a trip to victory lane. Busch has scored top-10 finishes in the last four races at Daytona (3rd, 2nd, 4th and 10th), the longest current streak.

“I think the biggest thing I always have going for me is that I truly enjoy the plate races, ” Busch said. “I think that I am in the minority when I say that. I know how much the fans love it. I know it’s hard for most people to understand, but the more I’m right in the middle of the lead pack, the more comfortable I am in the car. I feel like I learn something each time I’m in that position, especially how to survive and get a good finish out of it.”
Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) is no stranger to strong runs at Daytona. Kahne has scored four top-10 finishes in the last five races at the superspeedway. He gave Dodge its 203rd NASCAR Sprint Cup victory two races ago at Infineon. It was his 10th career win.

Heading into Daytona, Kahne says good decision making at over 200 mph is just as important as having a fast race car at Daytona.

“You have to make the right decisions, but a lot of it is luck, ” Kahne said. “You have to depend on other cars to help you get to the front. You’re really at the mercy of the cars behind you, and for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to make it work at the end and win one of these things. There are so many things out of your control when it comes to plate racing. You better hit all the marks on everything you can control, or you can really dig yourself a hole.”

Elliott Sadler (No. 19 Stanley Dodge) certainly feels that Daytona owes him one. In last February’s Daytona 500, Sadler led the field for 24 laps before Matt Kenseth passed him on the final green flag lap. The pass came seconds before the yellow and eventually red flag ended the rain-plagued race. Sadler has scored an impressive four top five’s and eight top 10’s at Daytona, but still is haunted by the one that got away.

“There has not been a day since I left Daytona that I haven’t thought about what might have been had we won that race, ” Sadler said. “Winning the Daytona 500 is every driver’s dream, but to win that race, on that day, would have been the best thing in the world for me as a racer.”

Other Notes:
• Reed Sorenson (No. 43 Air Force Dodge) had a career-best, ninth-place finish at this year’s Daytona 500.
• AJ Allmendinger (No. 44 Dodge) was the highest-finishing Dodge at this year’s Daytona 500. He finished third.
• Sam Hornish Jr. (Mobil 1Dodge) finished 15th in his debut NSCS event, the 2008 Daytona 500.

2009 Top 12 NSCS Drivers
Driver Points
1. Tony Stewart 2, 524
2. Jeff Gordon 2, 455
3. Jimmie Johnson 2, 355
4. Kurt Busch 2, 254
5. Carl Edwards 2, 157
6. Denny Hamlin 2, 132
7. Ryan Newman 2, 127
8. Kyle Busch 2, 108
9. Greg Biffle 2, 106
10. Matt Kenseth 2, 054
11. Mark Martin 2, 052
12. Juan Pablo Montoya 2, 049

What You Need To Know
The Race: Coke Zero 400
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, July 4
Green Flag: 8:16 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 2.5-mile superspeedway
The Distance: 400 miles/160 laps
Television: TNT, 6:30 p.m. (ET)

2009 Dodge Motorsports Driver Statistics
Driver Rank Points Behind Starts Poles Wins Top 5s Top 10s Earnings
Kurt Bush 4 2254 -270 17 0 1 5 9 $2, 414, 210
Kasey Kahne 13 2048 -476 17 0 1 2 6 $2, 755, 630
Elliott Sadler 23 1660 -864 17 0 0 1 2 $2, 035, 610
Sam Hornish Jr. 25 1638 -886 17 0 0 0 4 $2, 141, 810
Reed Sorenson 26 1604 -920 17 0 0 0 1 $2, 337, 630
AJ Allmendinger 29 1534 -990 17 0 0 1 3 $2, 177, 350
David Stremme 31 1441 -1083 17 0 0 0 0 $2, 233, 790

Dodge Weekend Motorsports on TV
(All Times Eastern)

Thursday, July 2

12:00 a.m. – NASCAR Now (ESPN2)
3:00 p.m. – Camping World Touring Series – Infineon (SPEED)
4:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Practice at Daytona (SPEED)
5:00 p.m. – NASCAR Now (ESPN2)
5:30 p.m. – Nationwide Series Final Practice at Daytona (ESPN2)
6:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Final Practice (SPEED)
Friday, July 3
3:00 p.m. – NASCAR Live (SPEED)
4:00 p.m. – Sprint Cup Pole Qualifying (SPEED)
7:00 p.m. – NASCAR Now (ESPN2)
7:00 p.m. – Trackside at Daytona (SPEED)
8:00 p.m. – Nationwide Series Race from Daytona (ESPN)
Saturday, July 4
4:30 p.m. – NASCAR RaceDay (SPEED)
6:30 p.m. – NASCAR on TNT Live (TNT)
7:30 p.m. – Countdown to Green (TNT)
8:00 p.m. – Sprint cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (TNT)
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