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2008 NASCAR Driver Review: Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch

2008 Ride: No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge
2008 Primary Sponsor: Miller Lite
2008 Owner: Roger Penske
2008 Crew Chief: Pat Tryson
2008 Stats: 36 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 10 top 10s, 0 poles, 18th in points

High Point: In the season opener, Kurt Busch helped push teammate Ryan Newman to victory and the first 1-2 sweep by Dodge in the Daytona 500. The victory earned Newman a $1 million bonus from Dodge and started their Penske organization off on the right foot.

Low Point: In a year filled with plenty of them, Busch had an average finish of 21.4 this season, his worst performance since his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series in 2001 (25.4).

Summary: In a season that was disappointing, to say the least, Busch struggled to simply remain on the lead lap in quite a few races – he actually finished off the lead lap in half the races run, a once-unthinkable scenario for Penske’s No. 2 Dodge. A preseason title favorite, Busch failed to make the Chase and struggled to simply finish the season in the top 20 in points. If it hadn’t been for a rain-shortened race and pit strategy in New Hampshire, the driver of the No. 2 Dodge could have easily gone winless this season.

Team Ranking: First; he edges Newman just barely.

Off-Track News: After a generous donation by the 2004 Cup Series champion, the Kurt Busch Superdome at the Victory Junction Gang Camp opened in May.

2009 Outlook: As much as fans would probably like to see Busch jump to another team, he’ll be back in the No. 2 car next season with a fresh outlook and hopes of a more successful run at making the Chase. Unless Penske Racing can come up with some major improvements with the new car, though, 2009 looks to be as bleak as 2008 was. On the bright side, Busch and crew chief Pat Tryson did look like they figured something out at the cookie-cutter tracks towards the end of the season, and the debut of Dodge’s new engine full-time will help. But their program still lacks a lot when it comes to short tracks, road courses and flat tracks.

Quote of the Year: “I guess the best thing to say is that I’m so glad the 2008 season is now officially over.” – Kurt Busch, after a season of five DNFs and 18 finishes off the lead lap

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C
2007 Grade: B+
2008 Grade: D

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