JOLIET, Ill. (Saturday, July 11, 2009) The first 211 laps of Saturday nights 267-lap LifeLock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway were uneventful with only two cautions for debris disturbing the on-track racing. That changed dramatically during the final 56 circuits with the yellow flag appearing five times, setting up five double-file shootout restarts and a bit of aggressive driving.
Four Dodge drivers were running in the top 20 before the barrage of yellow flags began. By the time the checkered flag appeared, only Kasey Kahne managed to elude the bumping and banging to finish third in the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger. Kurt Busch wasnt as fortunate.
Kahne started 15th, but had moved into the top 10 by lap 40. He was running fourth by lap 75 and competed in the top six the rest of the race. He led once for two laps.
We had a good Budweiser Dodge tonight, said Kahne. We had to battle all night. Those restarts were tough. Weve been working really well together, our whole Budweiser Dodge team. The guys had good stops all night. Theyve been on a roll with that. The car was good from the drop of the green (flag). We made some adjustments trying to keep up and make it better.
The finish moved Kahne up four positions in the season point standings to eight. It was his seventh top-10 finish of the season and third in the last four races.
The Budweiser Dodge ran well all night, said No. 9 Crew Chief Kenny Francis. Weve struggled here at Chicago in the past. To have a car that good and run up front all night with our Dodge, I couldnt be prouder of our guys and Kasey for coming home third. We had a really good car all night. The fuel mileage was good. It all worked out good. I wish we could have beaten the 24 and 5 there, but it was a good race for us.
After starting 22nd, Kurt Busch appeared to have a top-10 finish within grasp, but that slipped away after a fender-banging encounter with Jimmie Johnson as they battled for position with less than 20 laps remaining. The clash resulted in a tire rub on the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge which forced Busch to drop off the pace. He finished 17th.
I guess it was just a late-race rumble there and we came out on the short end of the stick, said Busch. I dont know what the problem is with Jimmie (Johnson) and me, but were running into each other way too often it seems. It (the contact made) was definitely a by-product of the double-file restarts and what can happen shortly after. Everyone is digging, rooting and gouging for everything they can get. Were disappointed because we had a solid top-10 car and came out of here with a 17th-place finish. We chose to stay out when the 24 and the others pitted for fresh rubber and thats what probably cost us most. But it was a hard call to make and we tried to maintain our track position. All was well until the 48 split us and put me up into the wall. We pitted there at the end to repair the fender damage and get four fresh tires, but theres not too much catching up you can do with a green-white-checkered finish like we had. Im pretty livid right now, to tell you the truth. Its a great time to have an off week on our schedule. We’ll tire-test at Atlanta, take a breather and then come back ready to get after it again at Indy.”
Busch remains fourth in the season standings, but lost ground to point leader Tony Stewart. He now trails the leader by 358 points.
We were a sixth to 10th-place car most of the night, said Crew Chief Pat Tryson. It just didnt work for us there at the end. We got run into by the 48 and it kind of ruined our evening. Thats the way it goes sometimes.
AJ Allmendinger finished 13th in the No. 44 Hunt Brothers Pizza Dodge, giving Richard Petty Motorsports a pair of top-15 finishes.
Sam Hornish Jr. was running inside the top 20 in the No. 77 Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy Dodge following a round of pit stops during the third caution on lap 212, but misfortune hit just eight laps later when he was hit from behind and sent sliding across the track and into the inside retaining wall. He finished 38th.
Reed Sorenson was running 13th in the No. 43 McDonalds McCafe Dodge when a green-flag pit cycle started on lap 92. The crew completed the stop without incident and had the 43 back off pit road in time to hold position, but NASCAR ruled that Sorenson had ignored the single-file rule entering pit road. He was assessed a pass-through penalty. He ended up losing two laps after having to make the stop with the field under the green flag. He finished 24th.
David Stremme finished 26th in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge while Elliott Sadler followed in 27th in the No. 19 Insignia Dodge Charger.
Driver Team Finished
Kasey Kahne No. 9 Budweiser Dodge 3rd
AJ Allmendinger No. 44 Hunt Brothers Pizza Dodge 13th
Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge 17th
Reed Sorenson No. 43 McDonalds McCafe Dodge 24th
David Stremme No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge 26th
Elliott Sadler No. 19 Insignia/Best Buy Dodge 27th
Sam Hornish No. 77 Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy Dodge 38th
Driver Rank Starts Points Behind Wins Poles T5s T10s
Kurt Busch 4 19 2526 -358 1 0 6 10
Kasey Kahne 8 19 2336 -548 1 0 3 7
Elliott Sadler 23 19 1881 -1003 0 0 1 3
AJ Allmendinger 27 19 1770 -1114 0 0 0 4
Reed Sorenson 28 19 1759 -1125 0 0 0 1
Sam Hornish Jr. 29 19 1754 -1130 0 0 1 3
David Stremme 32 19 1584 -1300 0 0 0 0
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
SERIES POINT STANDINGS
(Top 12 after 19 of 36 races)
1. Tony Stewart 2,884 –
2. Jeff Gordon 2,709 -175
3. Jimmie Johnson 2,672 -212
4. Kurt Busch 2,526 -358
5. Denny Hamlin 2,457 -427
6. Carl Edwards 2,438 -446
7. Ryan Newman 2,385 -499
8. Kasey Kahne 2,336 -548
9. J.P. Montoya 2,321 -563
10. Kyle Busch 2,298 -586
11. Mark Martin 2,296 -588
12. Matt Kenseth 2,295 -589