Monday, September 24, 2007

Late Race Accident Robs Busch, Newman Of Top-5 Finish

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 23, 2007) ¿ Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman were within 14 laps of producing top-five finishes in Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway when a right-front flat tire sent Busch careening into the backstretch's outside wall, triggering a 10-car melee that also involved Newman.

Busch was running fourth and Newman fifth when the accident occurred. When Busch's Miller Lite Dodge Avenger smacked the outside wall, Newman cut his Alltel Dodge Avenger to the left in an attempt to avoid Busch, but Busch bounced off the wall and into Newman. With the field so tightly packed due to a restart just one lap earlier, the accident collected several top-10 cars, three of whom were hoping to make substantial gains in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup in addition to Busch.

"I don't know exactly what happened, but we must have had a right-front tire go down and something broke on the right-front suspension," said Busch, who is now 11th in the point standings, trailing leader Jeff Gordon by 151 points with eight races remaining in the title chase. "It's a shame because the day was shaping up to be a great comeback for us in the points."

Most everyone involved in the 12-car Chase for the Championship experienced problems Sunday. Some were mechanical, while others were involved in accidents that caused a track record 13 caution flags for a 400-mile race. The lap 386 accident left Newman with a 28th-place finish and Busch 29th.

"If I would have known it was going to be that big of a mess, I would have just hit him [Busch] and tried to knock him out of the way instead of crossing my car up and blocking the race track," said Newman, who remained 14th in the standings.

Both Penske drivers ran in the top 10 for most of the day. Busch, who started fourth, led once for 20 laps and never ran lower than seventh until lap 290 when he had to make a green-flag pit stop. He was seventh when the stops cycled around about 25 laps later, but he was only a straightaway ahead of the leader.

Newman, who started 24th, immediately began moving towards the front on the tough, 1-mile concrete track. He had cracked the top 15 by lap 60; however, with five caution flags in the first 200 laps, it took him until lap 180 to break into the top 10, where he ran for the majority of the remaining laps until the lap 386 accident.

At one point, both Busch and Newman were a lap down, but Newman received the free pass when the eighth caution period began on lap 356. Busch regained his lost lap when he was the Lucky Dog recipient on the ninth caution period that began on lap 364.

In addition to the 13 caution periods, the race was stopped twice while track workers cleared the high-banked speedway after accidents. The first occurred on lap 370 and consumed 5 minutes 12 seconds, while the second came on lap 386 and lasted 11 minutes 40 seconds.

¿We just have to bite the bullet and go on,¿ Pat Tryson, Busch's crew chief, said. ¿It was a really wild race out there today and you can see how much things can change in just one race. You¿d expect this many cars to have trouble at a place like Talladega, but certainly not here at Dover. There¿s a lot of racing left to do, including the races at Talladega, Martinsville and other wild-card sort of tracks, so you never know what can happen.

¿We¿ll just regroup and be ready again for them at Kansas next weekend.¿

Sunday¿s LifeLock 400 at Kansas Speedway has a scheduled 2 p.m. EDT starting time with coverage by ABC and MRN Radio.

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