Rain Limits NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Testing At Kentucky Speedway
Cascading spring rains limited NASCAR NEXTEL Cup testing for Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Dale Jarrett today at Kentucky Speedway.
With preparations for upcoming races in Fontana, Calif., and Charlotte, N.C., on hold, Roush Racing teammates Busch and Kenseth, who begin the week second and third respectively in the series standings, turned their attention toward challenging points leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr., during Sunday's restrictor-plate race at Talladega, Ala.
Busch, who trails Earnhardt, Jr., by five points going into the weekend, finished 19th in the Talladega spring race and seventh in the track's fall event last season. He shared his strategy for taking on Dale Earnhardt, Inc.'s dominating restrictor plate tandem of Earnhardt, Jr., and Michael Waltrip in four short days.
"The first thing you do is separate the No. 8 and No. 15 and see if you can deal with them one at a time, but, that's the toughest thing to do. So, you just race your car and you never know how it's going to end up at the end of the day.
"Talladega is more of a chess game than it is driving. It's a place where you can run 500 miles straight through. It's gone caution free. I've been in one of those races where you just keep digging and digging, do the pit stops, and then you're back out on the track. If you're in the top-five, usually you're single file and out of the three-wide pack - that's something you try to position yourself for. If you're stuck in the middle of the pack, there's not much you can do. You don't want to get caught up in that big wreck, so you have to decide if you want to go forward or if you want to hang out in the back and wait for a pit stop to jumble up the field.
"Qualifying is important, but, if you qualify up front, you can get shuffled to the back quick if you get into the wrong draft. We'll just see how it shakes up. We have a good car. It's the car we ran at Daytona, so I'm excited to bring it back. We're second in points, it's a great start to our year. We're starting to get into the heart of it and just have to make sure we're in the top-10 for the final chase for the championship."
Busch said the new engine alliance between Roush and Robert Yates Racing will be a factor again this Sunday, as it has through the first eight races of the season.
"It's helped us on the racetrack with a teammate situation with Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett and through the power Yates has been able to give us at the plate tracks and the unrestricted tracks. It's been a plus, plus."
Those pluses have helped the driver of the No. 97 Sharpie / Irwin Tool Roush Racing Ford garner his first win of the season at Bristol, Tenn., and four additional top-10 finishes so far this season.
Defending series champion Matt Kenseth, who trails Earnhardt, Jr., by 12 points entering the upcoming Talladega tilt, said he'll look toward the engine alliance to produce the speed necessary to run up front. He finished ninth in last year's spring race and 33rd in the fall event due to engine troubles.
"Talladega is pretty much night and day compared to a Martinsville or a track like this (Kentucky Speedway)," he said. "Handling doesn't come into play, it's all about speed. You have to have a fast car. It's about aerodynamics and horsepower, basically. You also have to get good pit stops and have the right drafting partner."
Kenseth has earned wins at Rockingham, N.C. and Las Vegas, a fifth-place finish at Bristol and three additional top-10 finishes through eight starts this season.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~