Busch Battling Back

It's go or go home time for a big group of NEXTEL Cup Series drivers and Kurt Busch is one of them.

As the clock to making this season's "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" continues to tick, every race takes on more meaning as the summer months roll on.

Busch took a big step to moving up the series point standings with his runnerup finish to Denny Hamlin in Sunday's Pocono 500, giving the Miller Lite Dodge driver a much-needed top-five finish.

"Our goal is to keep on logging those top-fives and top-10s for the next 13 races and make our way back up there into the top 10 in the points," said Busch. "What we accomplished here today is a great start to launch us in that direction."

Busch started Sunday's race from the outside of the front row and led a portion of the 500-mile grind. He slipped back through a pit stop cycle late in the race, but managed to work his way back to the front to finish behind the rookie Hamlin.

"This was a great step here today," Busch said. "That rookie out there proved that his pole win here on Friday was no fluke. He had the strongest car and I congratulate him for being able to get all he could out of it. We had the great kind of day that our team is capable of and I'm proud of (crew chief) Roy McCauley and the entire Miller Lite Dodge team."

McCauley couldn't have been happier.

"That right there was just what the doctor ordered," he said. "We needed a race where everyone performed at their best and that certainly was the case here today. Kurt was on the wheel and in championship form, the guys had an absolutely incredible day in the pits and our communication, strategy and execution were terrific all day long."

While Busch was pleased with the run, he's looking forward to the next stretch of races as the series heads to Michigan, Sonoma and Daytona.

"We changed a couple of things in it, and we'll just take that to Michigan and see how we do," he said of the adjustments his team made during the Pocono weekend. "These are two good tracks to try to get ourselves back on track. I really enjoy running at Sonoma. I finished third there last year. The 400 at Daytona is any man's race and we feel like we've got solid restrictor plate cars. We've got a good stretch of tracks coming up, and I really hope we're able to put some impact in as far as our finish to gain some points."

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