Busch looks to climb in Chase points in K.C.
Posted Friday, Oct 2, 2009, 9:42 am in Employee News
The Dodge Boys head to America’s Heartland for Sunday’s Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway—race 29 of 36 on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular-season schedule.
The stop at Kansas Speedway is the third of 10 races that make up the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The 267-lap event at the 1.5-mile oval could be another slugfest. A top-10 finish may not be good enough to catch point leader Mark Martin. After Dover, six of the 12 Chase contenders changed position in the standings. Only 189 points separate the dozen. Dodge’s Kurt Busch moved from fifth to fourth while Kasey Kahne remained 12th.
Friday qualifying will be critical heading into Sunday’s race as five of the eight races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting spot. And when racing does go green, track position late in the race will be pivotal. Three of the last four races ending under green have had less than a second margin of victory.
Dodge has one win at Kansas. Former Dodge driver Ryan Newman won the 2003 Banquet 400.
Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger
) raced to his second consecutive top-10 finish last weekend at Dover, Del. He finished fifth and moved up one spot in the Chase championship point standing to fourth, 75 points behind the leader and 10 out of third.
With strong performances in the first two races in this year’s Chase, the Penske Racing veteran knows a fast race car helps, but putting yourself in position the last 50 laps and those exciting double-file restarts is where you can win or lose a championship.
According to NASCAR’s Loop Data, Busch ranks third on the list of drivers gaining spots after restarts. Even more compelling is data showing that Busch is the leading driver in maintaining his position or advancing five laps into the run. Busch either kept his spot or gained at least a position 84 percent of the time.
“The double–file restart rule is probably one of the biggest single moves to create additional excitement in the history of Sprint Cup racing,” Busch said of NASCAR’s rule change that dates back to the June 7 Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. “It’s also one of the most challenging changes ever introduced to this level of racing. As far as the competitors go, it’s a huge additional challenge, but most of us who have made it up to this level thrive on challenges. I’m one of the guys that grew up racing late models on the short tracks, so we’re pretty familiar with those kinds of restarts and all the other twists that are used to add excitement.”
In eight starts at Kansas, Busch has two top-10 finishes.
Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger
) heads to Kansas Speedway after a hard fought eighth-place finish at Dover last weekend. Facing handling issues early in the race, the Kenny Francis-tuned Dodge Charger responded to late changes, providing the opportunity for a top-10 finish.
Kansas Speedway is remembered as ‘the one that got away’ for the Richard Petty Motorsports driver. Three years ago at Kansas, Kahne had the dominant car. He started on the pole and frequently contended for the lead, but ran out of fuel late in the race and was forced to pit under green. He finished 33rd.
“We ran pretty well at Chicago and they’re kind of similar tracks,” Kahne said. “Our cars have been getting better throughout the year. They’re in pretty good shape right now and we should run strong out there. I feel like we have a great team and should be good at Kansas. In ’06, we ran out of gas in the Chase race there and finished 33rd. We have to work on it (the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger) some, but I think we’ll be alright. We ran good at Chicago and they have a lot of similarities.”
In five starts at Kansas, Kahne has one pole, one top 10 and an average finishing position of 18.8.
All seven Dodge teams are entered in the Price Chopper 400 and assured berths in Sunday’s race.
• Reed Sorenson (No. 43 McDonald’s Dodge Charger
) will make his 138th Sprint Cup start Sunday. He has five top-five and 14 top-10 career finishes.
• AJ Allmendinger (No. 43 Valvoline Dodge Charger
) finished ninth in last year’s race at Kansas.
• Elliott Sadler (No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger
) has finished 12th or better in four of the last five races at Kansas Speedway.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers’ standings
(After second of 10 races)
1. Mark Martin, 5,400
2. Jimmie Johnson, -10
3. Juan Montoya, -65
4. Kurt Busch, -75
5. Tony Stewart, -106
6. Denny Hamlin, -108
7. Ryan Newman, -110
8. Jeff Gordon, -122
9. Greg Biffle, -138
10. Brian Vickers, -151
11. Carl Edwards, -153
12. Kasey Kahne, -189
What you need to know
The Race: Price Chopper 400
The Place: Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
The Date: Sunday, Oct. 4
The Time: 2 p.m. EDT
Distance: 267 laps/400 miles
TV: ABC, 1 p.m. EDT