WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 12, 2007) Kurt Busch strengthened his hold on 12th place in the standings with his 11th-place finish in Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen, while Ryan Newman gained a position with his 13th-place performance at Watkins Glen International.
With four races remaining before the "Chase for the Championship" begins, Busch leads 13th-place Newman by 96 points and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who dropped to 14th, by 100 points. Busch trails 11th-place Martin Truex Jr. by 58 points. Newman moved into the standings' 13th position due to Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevrolet losing an engine during the season's final road course race.
Even though both Penske Racing drivers improved themselves in the overall picture, it wasn't an easy 90-lap event on the 2.45-mile course for either competitor. Newman experienced handling issues with his Kodak Dodge Avenger and took two side trips into the gravel pits that provide run-off areas at various turns. The first occurred on lap 11 and the second shortly after the 50-lap mark when he and Clint Bowyer tangled. Newman also incurred a penalty after the first gravel pit excursion for pitting before pit road was open. That left him 41st on the lap 14 restart.
Fuel only and a chassis adjustment on Newman's fourth stop vaulted him into the top 15 where he remained for the final 25 laps.
"We're competitive, but I wasn't happy with the car today," Newman said. "It didn't drive the way it should have."
Newman noted his 13th-place finish helped in the point standings, but then added "we could have capitalized more."
"The balance wasn¿t good (in the car)," Newman continued. "I drove it off the race track, which got us behind and then we fought back with a good strategy. We just got beat around out there."
Busch's frustration stemmed from his car's poor fuel mileage and a speeding penalty on pit road.
Busch was running second in his Miller Lite Dodge Avenger on lap 65 when crew chief Pat Tryson called him down pit road for his final scheduled stop. Unfortunately, Busch was tagged with a speeding penalty on his exit and was sent to the rear of the longest line for the lap 67 restart.
Busch lined up 37th for the return to green-flag racing, and had made it back to 23rd when the race was red-flagged on lap 76 for a five-car crash that left debris and fluids in turn 1. After the race was stopped for 26 minutes 4 seconds, it resumed on lap 78. However, it went back under yellow on lap 80 when P.J. Jones spun into the gravel on the inner loop.
Busch was 18th on the lap 83 restart and was able to climb an additional seven spots during the remaining laps to post his 11th-place finish.
I realize that it was a good day for us in the points and all, but it really gets frustrating when you have a car as strong as we did here today and only get an 11th-place finish out of it, Busch said. We were running second and had a car strong enough to win here today, but the fuel mileage situation bit us again and we had to pit. Then, to top it off, we got a speeding penalty leaving the pits.
When I looked up there before we went back to racing after they pulled the red flag and saw the [No.] 07 car [Clint Bowyer] and the [No.] 1 car [Martin Truex Jr.] in front of me, I knew I had to do all I could to try to get around those guys. I raced my guts out 'til the very end and we still only got an 11th out of it. We have to get this fuel mileage deal figured out; we absolutely have to. With the way things went here today, we could have very well won the race. I know I¿ll calm down and see the big picture view of things later on, but it sure is frustrating to not finish any better.
Next weekend, the series moves to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway for the 3M Performance 400. ESPN and MRN Radio will broadcast the race scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EDT.