The Lugnut Report: Kurt Busch Solidifies Chase Spot with Loudon Top 10

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The Lugnut Report: Kurt Busch Solidifies Chase Spot with Loudon Top 10
(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.

No, Kurt Busch wasn't getting married this weekend in Loudon, but the 30 year old Las Vegas was looking for a new beginning. The first ever winner of the Chase in 2004, Busch's best finish in his other two attempts has been a disappointing seventh.

That was then, and New Hampshire was now. 

It was a busy week for Busch and the other 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase drivers, spreading the Chase word up and down New York.

Busch entered New Hampshire sitting seventh in Chase standings after they were reset after Richmond, thanks to his victory in Atlanta early in the season. He also entered the track with the news that his crew chief Pat Tryson, who is leaving at the end of the season to join Michael Waltrip Racing and Martin Truex, Jr., will only be allowed at the Penske shop on Tuesdays to debrief with his team.

"They want me to focus on this year's stuff and they've got stuff going on at the shop for next year, so they're going to work on that," Tryson told the Associated Press. "I'll be communicating by e-mail and phones, and I'll be in there for driver debrief on Tuesdays.

"Tuesday is the only day I'm welcome."

Busch ran the first 37 minutes of Friday practice in race trim, finishing that run ninth before switching to qualifying trim, and finished the session sixth on the speed charts.

 

"It feels completely different than what we normal run," Busch said of the new setup his team was running. "It's a little strange, but I actually like it.”

 

He would end the second practice seventh, and qualified for the race third. The brand new setup that teammate David Stremme borrowed from the No. 2 crew also put Busch second fastest in final practice.

 

Busch ran in the top five for much of the first third of the race, taking second from Denny Hamlin on lap 92 after he and Tony Stewart made contact.

 

It wouldn't take Busch long to catch the dominate No. 42 of Montoya, running less than a second behind him on lap 111 and running up to the back bumper of him just seven laps later.

 

A relentless pursuit, the blue deuce stalked Montoya and his Target Chevrolet, getting him loose and passing him on lap 123.

 

He would build a two second lead over the field before caution on lap 141 for debris sent the leaders down pit road. Busch's crew would cost him two spots on pit road, allowing Montoya to retake the lead and Hamlin to take over second place.

 

The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge would continue running in the top twelve for the rest of the day, despite receiving damage on lap 161 pit stops when he spun out the No. 6 of David Ragan.

 

On lap 283 Busch ran door to door with Mark Martin, the race's eventual winner, on the restart. Martin was pushed on the restart by teammate Jimmie Johnson, allowing him to take the lead.

 

Busch would continue to fall back, becoming one of the many victims of Montoya as he began his charge to finish second place to a dominant No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet.

 

Despite running in the top five for most of the Sylvania 300, Busch was passed late by younger brother Kyle Busch and ended his day in New Hampshire sixth. With the finish, the blue deuce goes into Dover Delaware having gained two points positions to fifth, and sits just 65 points out of first place.

 

 

For Patti Rodisch's Lugnut Report on Michael Waltrip, click here. If you'd like to read last week's Lugnut Reports from Richmond, click here for Tony Stewart and here for Kevin Harvick.

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