Monday, August 6, 2007


Kurt Busch owned Pocono Raceway Sunday, dominating the Pennsylvania 500 in his Miller Lite Dodge Charger in unprecedented fashion to claim his 16th career Cup victory and move into Chase eligibility with five races remaining before the title battle begins.
Ryan Newman also produced a top-10 finish in his Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile track to remain in contention for a top-12 spot in the standings. Newman finished seventh in the event to hold on to the 14th position, 90 points behind Busch.
"We had a top two or three car today, but we made the wrong adjustments for our second-to-last run and it really hurt us" said Newman, who led once for one lap. "The guys did an excellent job in the pits, and (crew chief) Mike (Nelson) made good calls all day. I wanted the car freed up just a little bit and we just went a little too far on our track bar, but it was still a good run for the Mobil 1 Dodge and we're still in a good position to make the Chase, so the day was good...just not great."
Busch, however, did have a great day, leading seven times for a record 175 laps. The only time Busch didn't lead was when green-flag pit stops cycled through the field and after a slow stop during the fifth of seven caution periods. By leading all but 25 laps on the tricky, triangular-shaped track, Busch broke the record of 164 laps led by Jeff Gordon en route to his 1998 Pennsylvania 500 victory.
Busch's first victory this year and his second at Pocono moved the Las Vegas native into 12th in the point standings, this year's cutoff position for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. He is now 38 points behind 11th-place Martin Truex Jr. and a mere seven points in front of the 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second Sunday.
"It was a great team win and I am so proud to be driving the Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing," said Busch, who has finished in the top two in four of the last five Pocono races. "I'm proud of all my guys; all the guys back in the shop who help prepare these cars, all the guys over on the engine side, who continue to give us that great Penske-Jasper horsepower, and all my immediate team members who give it their all here at the race track every week.
"I am so pleased and proud of the unbelievable job (crew chief) Pat Tryson has done coming in here and leading our team. Pat is due much of the credit for our strong performance here today. We're really hitting our stride and it's coming at the right time."
Busch also cited Roy McCauley and Troy Raker for their contributions to the team. McCauley began the season as Busch's crew chief, but stepped aside when his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with Leukemia and he decided to stay home to assist her with her battle. Raker stepped in as the team's interim crew chief until Tryson was hired.
"It's so neat to still have them working and nurturing our team along," said Busch, who finished 4.131 seconds ahead of Earnhardt Jr. to break a 51-race winless streak. "We have a great team behind us and we think this is just the beginning of much future success."
Once the green flag waved on Sunday's race, it was clear Busch was the class of the field.
"I can honestly say that when the green flag dropped and we flew off into turn 1 and made the outside move work around the (No.) 8 car (Earnhardt Jr.) to get the lead, I did say to myself, 'Man we really have something for them here today,'" Busch admitted after recording his seventh top-five at Pocono and his fourth of the season.
Busch grabbed the lead from pole-winner Earnhardt Jr. on the first lap and had built a 3.9-second lead over Newman by the time the first round of green-flag pit stops unfolded. He possessed a 12.1-second lead on Newman when the second yellow flag fell on lap 54 for debris.
Busch continued to hold the point through another two rounds of green-flag stops, with the team making minor air pressure and wedge adjustments to counter the track becoming tighter.
At the halfway mark in the 200-lap race, Busch possessed a 4.2-second advantage over Denny Hamlin, who won both Pocono races last year.
Busch fell behind on lap 139 during a 14.582-second pit stop under the fifth yellow. Restarting eighth on the lap 143 return to green, Busch drove to the inside, outside and went three wide in turn 2 on lap 144 to advance back to fourth. He picked off Matt Kenseth for third on lap 145 and got around Reed Sorenson for second on lap 146.
Busch chased down Earnhardt Jr. and made the pass in turn 3 on lap 153 to regain the lead.
"Kurt kept his cool when we got behind," Tryson said. "We went from leading, all the way back to eighth on the restart, but it didn't get him rattled. He knew that he had the best car out there.
"To tell you the truth, he made exciting moves, particularly over there in the tunnel turn, that were amazing. We had some of the TV guys telling us after the race that he made some impossible passes out there in playing catch-up.
"I certainly have the utmost confidence in Kurt's abilities, but I even have to admit that I don't know if I've ever seen anybody pass that many cars running through (turns) two and three here in that little number of laps. It was incredible with what he was able to do behind the wheel of our Miller Lite Dodge."
Busch noted his team was trying to only look ahead, not behind.
"We have some really good tracks coming up and we hopefully, can continue to climb on up the points ladder" Busch added.
Busch and Newman will have double-duty next weekend at Watkins Glen, competing in Saturday's Busch Series race and Sunday's Cup event. Busch is the defending champion of Saturday's race and Newman won the event in 2005. ESPN and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of both races.

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