Busch Rolls a Hard Eight in All-Star Race; Scores Top-10 Finish in Non-Points Race at Charlotte

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Date:                   May 19, 2012
Event:                 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (non-points event)
Series:                 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location:           Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish:    17th/8th (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps)
Winner:             Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Kurt Busch rallied from an early-race brush with the wall to score an eighth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It was his sixth top-10 finish in 12 career All-Star Races.

“That was a good night for this team,” said Busch, the 2010 winner of the All-Star Race. “I hated that I hurt the right side of the car there. We were just way too tight as we got into the corner. But we learned some things that will help us next weekend. We’re really happy that Monster Energy came on board and that we were able to lead some laps and get a top-10 finish for them.”

Driving the No. 51 Monster Energy Chevrolet, Busch started the race from 17th place and reported immediately that he was struggling with the handling on the car, which he described as “all over the place.” While the handling issues were persistent, the car did drive better on a long run. Busch was in 19th place at the end of the first segment. The team elected to gamble for track position, stayed out during the caution period between segments and lined up seventh for the start of the second segment.

The tight-handling issue on the No. 51 Chevrolet persisted, and Busch steadily lost positions when green-flag racing resumed, even making slight contact with the outside retaining wall. Caution was displayed on lap 25, and the No. 51 Chevrolet team took advantage by having Busch enter pit road for adjustments and repairs to the right side of the car. Busch lined up 21st for the restart on lap 30. During the next 10 laps, he made steady progress through the field, climbing to 16th place when the second segment came to a close.

Crew Chief Nick Harrison called for another pit stop between segments so the team could massage the body of the No. 51 Chevy a bit more and make some minor adjustments. Busch was in 19th place for the start of the third segment. Once the green flag waved, he again started picking up positions on the track. He moved into 14th place by lap 54 and maintained the position to the end of the third segment.

As the field came to pit road during the segment caution, Busch rolled the dice and stayed out to inherit the top spot for the start of the fourth segment. Busch maintained the lead for a two laps before relinquishing it to Dale Earnhardt Jr., the eventual winner of the fourth segment. Busch lost a handful of positions before the fifth caution of the race was displayed on lap 69 for oil on the track. The elected to pit for four tires and fuel in an effort to require just a stop-and-go during the mandatory pit stop before the start of the last 10-lap segment. A number of other cars employed the same strategy, which placed Busch in 10th place for the restart on lap 74. He picked up three positions to move into seventh place by the end of the fourth segment.

Before the start of the final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag, every team had to make a mandatory stop on pit road. It was up to each team whether they did a stop-and-go or elected for fresh tires. The No. 51 Chevrolet team did the stop-and-go, which placed it seventh for the final restart. Busch quickly jumped to fifth place on the first lap and was battling for fourth when the tight-handling condition on the No. 51 Chevrolet proved to be too much to be able to race to the front. He lost ground and was in eighth place when the checkered flag waved.

Jimmie Johnson won the All-Star Race. It was his third All-Star Race win and his ninth Sprint Cup victory at Charlotte.

Brad Keselowski finished .841 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing Sunday, May 27 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning at 5:30 p.m.

About Monster Beverage Company:
Based in Corona, California, Monster Energy refuses to acknowledge the traditional and the disingenuous. Monster always supports the scene and the sport. Whether it be motocross, off-road, NASCAR, MotoGP, BMX, surf, snowboard, ski, skateboard, or the rock and roll lifestyle, Monster is a brand that believes in authenticity and the core of what its sports, athletes and musicians symbolize. Much more than a drink, it’s a way of life lived by our athletes, sports, bands, believers and fans. See more about Monster Beverage Company – including all of its drinks – at www.monsterenergy.com and Facebook.com/MonsterEnergy.

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