Kurt Busch drove the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger to a seventh-place finish Monday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, a career best on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. His previous best at The Glen was 10th.
Mother Nature disrupted the racing schedule for the second consecutive weekend. Drivers were strapped in and ready for the command to start engines on Sunday when a thunderstorm moved into the area. Drying efforts continued for more than two hours. Those efforts were hampered by an occasional drizzle. At 4:07 p.m., NASCAR made the call to postpone the 90-lap, 220.5-mile race until Monday at noon.
Just as in previous years, it was a fuel strategy race at the drop of the green flag. Most teams were planning two fuel stops. Races at Watkins Glen have been won implementing that strategy. Not all teams had that fuel window including Busch. While many of the leaders pitted under green on lap 55 for the final time, Busch needed to go another two laps before making his final stop of the day. He returned to the track in 14th place.
After the fourth caution for a six-car mishap on lap 63 which resulted in a red flag for almost 20 minutes to clean up the debris, Busch started working his way back up through the field. He was 10th by lap 74 and made up three more spots in the next four laps. He finished seventh.
“I felt we had a strong car, Busch said. I passed guys all day. Fuel mileage bit us. We finished seventh. Thats all right, but man we were faster than that. I was real proud of my team’s effort and the way that we adjusted on the car in practice, the way the brakes held up. We were just behind on pit strategy I guess; fuel mileage didn’t come into our favor. It was really fun to do that. We had a car that could maneuver and we just weren’t stuck behind guys. The car just started overheating when I went through the grass. All in all, (it was) a good day for our Miller Lite Dodge. We finished seventh at Watkins Glen; we’re still looking for a top five here though.”
Busch continues to have a firm hold on fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings and is a step closer to claiming a berth in the Chase. He has a 275-point advantage over 13th place with four races remaining to set the Chase field. The top 12 compete for the Sprint Cup in the final 10 races of the season.
I felt like we should have won the race, said Pat Tryson, crew chief for the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. I felt like we had the best car here. He drove his butt off. Its just disappointing. Its a good day points wise. Im sure well all feel better about it later, but right now, its disappointing to be that fast and not do what you need to do.
AJ Allmendinger finished 13th in the No. 44 Stanley Tools Dodge. He ran in the top 15 throughout the race.
We went with fuel strategy and really didnt want to gamble on the yellows, said Allmendinger. It worked out well. We tried to put new tires on and it took like 15 laps for the car to come to us. We put on scuffs at the end and that was way better. That might have been the way to go. Overall, against the guys racing around us in points, it was a good day.
Kasey Kahne finished 17th in the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger. He slipped one spot in the point standings, but still has a 127-point advantage over 13th.
Four other Dodge drivers were involved in mishaps during the afternoon. The most serious involved Sam Hornish Jr. who was involved in the six-car mishap on lap 63. Hornish was on the outside of Kahne as the two exited Turn Five. The rear end of Kahnes car broke loose and made contact with the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge, sending it off the racing surface, through the grass and into the tire barrier. As the car slid back across the track, it was hit by two other cars.
“We’ve been fast all weekend, Hornish said. We just had some problems keeping us from being up in the front. We were trying to make it on fuel mileage and Kasey (Kahne) just got a little bit loose and got into me. I thought that it was going to be a big hit into the tire wall. I didn’t think that I was going to get hit by two more cars. It was rough. The cars are real safe and Im thankful that we do everything that we do to be as safe as we can. Hopefully, the Mobil 1 Dodge will be a lot better next weekend at Michigan. You never want to make highlights like that.
David Stremme, driving the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, was involved in a mishap on lap 24 involving three cars at the Inner Loop while Reed Sorenson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were in an accident on lap 42 in Turn Six when Earnhardt had brake problems and made contact with the No. 43 McDonalds Dodge. Elliott Sadler was running in the top 15 when he hit the brakes entering Turn One and tire-hop turned the No. 19 Best Buy Dodge into a spin. Another car made contact with Sadlers machine, requiring a stop in the pits for repairs.
The car wheel-hopped getting into (Turn) One, said Sadler. Im sorry for my guys and Best Buy. I should have had at least a 13th or 14th like we usually run here. I put us in a hole today. Our pit strategy was good. We were exactly where we wanted to be. Im man enough to say it was 100 percent my fault. I just have to make up for it next week.
Driver Team Finished
Kurt Busch No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge 7th
AJ Allmendinger No. 44 Stanley Dodge 13th
Kasey Kahne No. 9 Budweiser Dodge 17th
David Stremme No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge 27th
Elliott Sadler No. 19 Best Buy Dodge 31st
Reed Sorenson No. 43 McDonalds Dodge 32nd
Sam Hornish Jr. No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge 36th
Driver Rank Starts Points Behind Wins Poles T5s T10s
Kurt Busch 4 22 2902 -481 1 0 6 12
Kasey Kahne 8 22 2754 -629 1 0 4 9
AJ Allmendinger 24 22 2109 -1274 0 0 1 3
Elliott Sadler 26 22 2082 1301 0 0 1 3
Sam Hornish Jr. 28 22 2021 -1362 0 0 1 5
Reed Sorenson 29 22 2011 -1372 0 0 0 1
David Stremme 31 22 1856 -1527 0 0 0 0
Driver Standings After 22 Races (Chase Field Set Following Race 26)
Pos. Driver Points Point Lead Over 13th Position
1. Tony Stewart 3, 383 756
2. Jimmie Johnson 3, 123 496
3. Jeff Gordon 3, 041 414
4. Kurt Busch 2, 902 275
5. Denny Hamlin 2, 847 220
6. Carl Edwards 2, 830 203
7. Juan Montoya 2, 781 154
8. Kasey Kahne 2, 754 127
9. Ryan Newman 2, 727 100
10. Greg Biffle 2, 718 91
11. Mark Martin 2, 716 89
12. Matt Kenseth 2, 685 58 Final Chase Position
Points from 12th Position
13. Kyle Busch 2, 627 -58
14. Brian Vickers 2, 589 -96
15. Clint Bowyer 2, 586 -99
16. David Reutimann 2, 530 -155