Kyle Busch dominates in Bristol victory
By: By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
BRISTOL, Tenn.—You couldn’t blame Kyle Busch for believing Bristol Motor Speedway owed him a win in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
After all, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota led 415 of 500 laps last August, only to finish second.
Busch didn’t wait for the .533-mile short track to take its time paying him back. Instead, he seized control of Sunday’s Food City 500, leading 378 laps en route to his second victory of the season.
Busch held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin by .391 seconds in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race to 503 laps, three beyond its scheduled distance. The win was Busch’s 14th in the Cup series and his 10th since joining JGR to start the 2008 season.
“It was just an overall great day,” said Busch, whose second victory at Bristol broke a streak of 13 wins at 13 different racetracks. “This place probably owes me a few, but you can never ask the racetrack to pay you back. You’ve just got to go out there and keep working at it. … Fortunately, we had a good enough car today.”
Jimmie Johnson ran third, matching his best result at Bristol (August 2004). Jeff Gordon expanded his lead in the points standings with a fourth-place finish, and Kasey Kahne ran fifth to collect the second Bristol top five of his career.
Polesitter Mark Martin, front-row starter Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose completed the top 10. Ambrose had never finished better than 17th in a Cup race on an oval track.
Hamlin, who was second for a restart on Lap 502 after the engine of JGR teammate Joey Logano blew to cause the ninth and final caution, said Busch’s ability to pull out to a significant lead on the short runs was the difference in the race.
“We had a good car,” said Hamlin, who gained six positions to eighth in the Cup standings. “It was extremely good on the long runs. It seemed like our car, we’d lose a little bit of ground to those guys—about a straightaway or so until about 100 laps. Then we’d come in.
“When we had that caution with about 50 or 60 laps to go (Lap 442 for Kevin Harvick’s brush with the Turn 4 wall), I knew it was going to be tough—unless we got off pit road first—to have anything for those guys. His car (Busch’s) just takes off so well.”
The final pit stop under caution, after Harvick’s accident, also cost Johnson any chance he might have had to win the race. After an abnormally slow stop, the No. 48 Chevrolet lost three positions in the pits and restarted fifth on Lap 450.
“We had a problem, I think, getting the left rear (tire) on,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure—I haven’t talked to (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) about it, but it didn’t sound to me like the jack went up high enough to get the left rear tire on.”
After another quick caution for David Stremme’s spin, Johnson restarted fifth on Lap 460 and managed to pass Martin and Kahne before Logano’s blown engine oiled the track and sent the race to overtime.
NOTES: Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch have combined to win three straight races for the second straight year. Kyle won at Las Vegas, Kurt at Atlanta and Kyle at Bristol. In 2008, the streak reached four races before the brothers failed to win. … Kyle Busch climbed three positions to fourth in the Cup standings, 85 points behind Gordon. Kurt Busch (11th Sunday) and Clint Bowyer (13th) are second and third, 76 and 79 points behind Gordon, respectively. … Logano’s No. 20 Toyota held on to a top-35 spot in owner points (34th), despite the driver’s 38th-place finish Sunday. The rookie driver has a guaranteed starting spot next Sunday at Martinsville.