Sunday, August 26, 2007

Penske - Newman 7th, Kurt Busch 6th at Bristol's Sharpie 500

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 25, 2007) Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman produced top-10 finishes Saturday night in the Sharpie 500 at the tough Bristol Motor Speedway, as they continued to fight for a position in the title chase.

With two races remaining before the NASCAR Chase for the NEXTEL Cup begins, Busch maintains the 12th position with a 158-point advantage over the 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. He also closed on the 10th- and 11th-place drivers with his sixth-place finish in his Miller Lite Dodge Avenger. Busch is now within eight points of the 11th-place Martin Truex Jr. and nine points of 10th-place Kevin Harvick.

"We knew that he [Earnhardt Jr.] finished right in front of us at the finish, but we didn't know at first that he'd sneaked in there and led a lap, too, like we did for the bonus points," said Busch, who possesses the final Chase eligible position. "We thought it'd turned out as a scratch and we were still 163 (points) ahead. But now they're telling me that we did lose five points of our advantage."

Newman's seventh-place finish in his Alltel Dodge Avenger kept him in 14th place in the standings, 17 points behind Earnhardt Jr. and 175 points in arrears to his teammate. Newman and Busch each led once for two laps.

I was miserable in the car, but it was a good run for the Alltel Dodge," Newman said after dealing with extremely hot temperatures throughout the 500-lap race on the high-speed, half-mile track. "We just got behind a little bit on pit road and that was enough. We just didn't have enough to get past those guys. We were good enough to hold our own, but couldn't pass them.

Newman qualified seventh for the event, while Busch started 19th. Newman ran in the top five for most of the race's first half and in the top 10 throughout the event.

Busch wasted little time in heading for the front once the race started. By lap 86, he had cracked the top 10 and he ran there for the rest of the evening. On lap 275, he began his run in the fourth position and maintained that spot until the final five laps. Tony Stewart passed Busch for fourth on lap 495, and Earnhardt Jr. relegated him to sixth one lap later.

"It was definitely mission accomplished for our Miller Lite Dodge Avenger team here tonight," Busch said after the race that didn't have its first of nine caution flags until lap 187. "Don't get me wrong. There are still two races remaining to put it all in place, but we have to be able to breathe a little sigh of relief after our performance here tonight."

The NEXTEL Cup Series now travels to the 2-mile California Speedway for Labor Day weekend. The 250-lap, 500-mile Sharp Aquos 500 has an 8 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by ESPN and MRN Radio.

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