"We've been struggling here all day, with the car being loose in, tight in the corner and loose off," said Busch, currently fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 177 points with five races remaining to determine the 2009 series champion. "We think we'll be quite a bit better in the race than what our qualifying effort showed. This is just a super-tough little track to get a handle on."
"That's definitely not what we'd hoped for, but we'll just have to take it and go from there," said crew chief Pat Tryson. "We decided to bring the car here that we ran so well with in the Richmond race (the PRS-621 chassis that finished second at Richmond last month) and still think we can come out of here with a decent finish on Sunday. We're in a hole, but we've seen time after time that Kurt and our team do so well when there's really nowhere to go but forward. We're looking to advance all day here on Sunday."
Busch's Martinsville record certainly displays reason to believe he can excel, even after having to start toward the rear of the field. He won the October 2002 race here after starting from the 36th position.
Ryan Newman, 28th of the 44 drivers to make qualifying runs here this afternoon, picked up the Coors Light Pole Award with his fast lap of 19.563 seconds (96.795 mph). He will start inside of Jeff Gordon (19.619 seconds/96.519 mph) on the front row. Martin Truex Jr. (19.621/96.509) starts third, with Mark Martin (19.622/96.504) fourth and David Reutimann (19.701/96.117) fifth. Casey Mears, rookie Joey Logano, Bobby Labonte, Reed Sorenson and Kevin Harvick rounded out today's top-10 qualifiers.
Among the other Chase drivers, Tony Stewart starts 13th, Jimmie Johnson 15th, Denny Hamlin 17th, Greg Biffle 20th, Juan Pablo Montoya 21st, Kasey Kahne 26th, Carl Edwards 29th and Busch 37th.
Busch's Penske Racing teammates David Stremme (19.745 seconds/95.903 mph) and Sam Hornish Jr. (19.882/95.242) will start 11th and 31st, respectively, on Sunday.
Saturday's first practice here at Martinsville Speedway, weather permitting of course, is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. till 11:15 a.m. The final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 11:50 a.m. till 12:50 p.m. (taped-delayed till 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2). Sunday's TUMS 500 has a scheduled 2:00 p.m. local (EDT) starting time at the 0.526-mile high-banked facility. ABC-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.