Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kurt Busch defeats his "Arch Nemesis"

Kurt Busch blew past Jimmie Johnson on the second-to-last restart to capture his 2nd win of the 2011 season.  After the race was dominated by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson, Busch captured the victory on a late restart, then held off Johnson on the final restart to win the race.  After the win, Busch had this to say about beating Johnson, "to beat your arch nemesis, that's just icing on the cake."  Busch and Johnson have had a rivalry this season, with Busch stating he's "in Johnson's head."  Busch has even called Johnson a "5-Time Chump."  Edwards finished 3rd, a nice comeback after a pit road speeding penalty set him back with about 150 laps to go.

Kurt Busch wins his 2nd race of the season (Photo Courtesy Getty Images)
  Other Chase drivers who finished inside the Top 10 were Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick.  Jeff Gordon was 12th, Denny Hamlin 18th, and Brad Keselowski finished 20th.  Bad finishes befell Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart.  The Stewart-Haas cars were never fast all day, and they ran outside the Top 20 for the majority of the race.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran much better than he finished.  After coming back from a broken sway bar arm at the beginning of the race, Earnhardt Jr. had to come in late to replace a loose wheel.  This set him back, and he never had time to recover.

Kurt Busch pulls away from his "arch nemesis," Jimmie Johnson (Photo Courtesy Getty Images)
  Following the race, the Chase seems to be heating up.  The top nine drivers are now separated by only 19 points.  Here are the point standings following Chase Race #3:

1. (+1) Kevin Harvick            --
2. (+2) Carl Edwards             --
3. (-2) Tony Stewart              -9
4. (+5) Kurt Busch                -9
5. (+5) Jimmie Johnson        -13
6. (-3) Brad Keselowski        -14
7. (--) Matt Kenseth              -14
8. (-2) Kyle Busch                -15
9. (-4) Jeff Gordon                 -19
10. (-2) Dale Earnhardt Jr.      -34
11. (--) Ryan Newman            -41
12. (--) Denny Hamlin            -68

Through 3 races, the Chase is still very tight.  The top nine drivers all have a legitimate shot to win the Championship.  It seems that Jimmie Johnson cannot be counted out of the Chase until he is mathematically eliminated.  With his 2nd place finish, he moved up 5 spots, to 5th in points.  Carl Edwards looked strong, and Kansas should be a good track for him.  Kevin Harvick finds himself back atop the standings following a quiet Top 10.  Tune in next week, as the Chase continues on in Kansas, where someone will move one step closer to raising the Sprint Cup Trophy.

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