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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.

Other notes
• 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

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23,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #2

Kahne sixth, Busch 11th at Kansas

Posted Monday, Oct 5, 2009, 10:12 am in Employee News

Kasey Kahne posted his career-best finish at Kansas Speedway Sunday with a sixth-place effort in the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway. It was Kahne’s second consecutive top-10 finish and moved the driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger up to 11th in the Chase for the Championship standings.

Kahne started sixth, raced in the top 10 most of the day and restarted second following a two-tire stop during the sixth caution on lap 237. t was a bit of a gamble by crew chief Kenny Francis with 26 laps remaining when the field took the green flag for the final sprint. The No. 9 Dodge was best on long runs. Track position prompted the choice and assured the team of a solid finish.

“It was an all-right day for the Budweiser Dodge team,” Kahne said. “We got off a little bit on the setup, but the last two runs, last 100 laps, we were a top three or four car. The two tires didn’t help us at the end. We thought more teams would take two. It seemed to work for some teams earlier in the race. Looking back, we probably should have taken four. Maybe we could have been top five with four. We had a good car all day. We got behind there at one point, but fought back and got the Budweiser Dodge where it needed to be. We weren’t that good on restarts; it just takes my car too long to get going, so the late cautions didn’t help. Other than that, we had a solid day.”

Kahne moved within 25 points of 10th in the Chase standings.

“It came down to strategy there at the end,” Francis said. “It’s tough to know what to do. Two tires had worked for a lot of guys all day. We hadn’t tried it, but thought, well, let’s go ahead and try it even though there were a lot of laps left. It got us up front track-position wise. We had been running third to fourth and that moved us up to second. Too many of the other teams took four and they just overtook us. Sixth place is a real good finish for the Budweiser Dodge.”

Busch just missed a third consecutive top-10 effort, finishing 11th in the No. 2 Miller Lite Doge. It was a roller-coaster afternoon for Busch. He started 39th, but worked his way to the front and took the lead on lap 207 of the 267-lap race.

The lead came during a green-flag pit cycle which extended from laps 201 to 209. Busch stopped on lap 208 for four tires and fuel. Crew chief Pat Tryson’s plan was to go the rest of the way on fuel, something few other teams would be able to do. The fuel mileage opportunity vanished with the sixth caution.

“Overall, it was a solid day for the Miller Lite Dodge,” Busch said. “We started in a hole by qualifying 39th, but we battled and got track position back midway through the race. We could never find the right balance between tight and loose. Our fuel mileage allowed us to stay out longer during green flag stops. That allowed us to lead a lap and get those valuable bonus points. When you look at the leader board and see 11 of the top 12 guys are Chase drivers, it makes it really tough to gain spots and earn points. We’ll take our notes, learn from them and head to California.”

Busch is fifth in the point standings, 91 points behind leader Mark Martin. Eight teams are within 114 points of the leader.

“Our Miller Lite Dodge was pretty good today,” Tryson said. “We had a little problem with a loose wheel that set us back. We had to come from the back twice, so to finish 11th was great. We were just too loose there at the end to really make up any ground.”

The setbacks could have been devastating, but each time the No. 2 Dodge team overcame the adversity.

“We had a tough start, but we soldiered through the day and moved up through the pack,” Michael Nelson, Penske Racing’s vice president of operations, said. “We had some misfortunes at times, but we were able to rally back and get an 11th-place finish. We didn’t have the day that we wanted, but we had a day that we needed and kept ourselves in contention for the Chase.”

Other notes

AJ Allmendinger ran in the top 20 throughout the race and finished 17th in the No. 44 Valvoline Dodge.

Sam Hornish Jr. started 33rd and overcame a pit road speeding penalty to finish 18th in the No. 77 AAA Dodge.

Elliott Sadler led once, fell a lap behind and rallied back to finish 20th in the No. 19 Best Buy Dodge.

David Stremme started 32nd but had driven his way inside the top 15 by the halfway mark before setting for a finish of 25th in the No. 12 Penske Racing Doge.

Reed Sorenson started 28th, but was running in the top 15 before a mishap in Turn 2 on lap 70 slowed the move forward. The No. 43 McDonald’s Monopoly Dodge finished 26th.

The Dodge Boys
Driver, team, finish
Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Budweiser Dodge, 6th
Kurt Busch, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, 11th
AJ Allmendinger, No. 44 Valvoline Dodge, 17th
Sam Hornish Jr., No. 77 AAA Dodge, 18th
Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Best Buy Dodge, 20th
David Stremme, No. 12 Penske Dodge, 25th
Reed Sorenson, No. 43 McDonald’s Monopoly Dodge, 26th

Price Chopper 400 race results
Kansas Speedway (race 29 of 36)
1. Tony Stewart
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Greg Biffle
4. Juan Pablo Montoya
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Kasey Kahne (Dodge)
7. Mark Martin
8. David Reutimann
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Carl Edwards
11. Kurt Busch (Dodge)
12. Kyle Busch
Other Dodge racers
17. AJ Allmendinger
18. Sam Hornish Jr.
20. Elliott Sadler
25. David Stremme
26. Reed Sorenson

The Chase point standings
(Race 3 of 10 in the Chase)
1. Mark Martin, 5,551 (-)
2. Jimmie Johnson, 5,533 (-18)
3. Juan Montoya, 5,500 (-51)
4. Tony Stewart, 5,484 (-67)
5. Kurt Busch, 5,460 (-91)
6. Denny Hamlin, 5,452 (-99)
7. Jeff Gordon, 5,448 (-103)
8. Greg Biffle, 5,437 (-114)
9. Ryan Newman, 5,387 (-164)
10. Carl Edwards, 5,386 (-165)
11. Kasey Kahne, 5,361 (-190)
12. Brian Vickers, 5,301 (-250)
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