Monday, March 31, 2014

Kurt Busch Returns to Victory Lane at Martinsville

Originally written for CLNS Radio.
Kurt Busch returned to victory lane on Sunday after snapping an 83-race winless after winning the STP 500 from Martinsville Speedway.

The win was his first with Stewart-Haas Racing, who added a fourth team for Busch this year.  SHR uses Hendrick Motorsports engines, and Busch said that was definitely a factor in the win.

“I didn’t know if we’d be able to do it, the 48 [of Jimmie Johnson] is king here, so is the 24 [of Jeff Gordon],” Busch said in victory lane.  “If you can’t beat them, join them.  We have Hendrick chassis and Hendrick engines at Stewart-Haas.”

Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Practice was rained out on Saturday, and Busch joked that that may have been helpful in his victory today.

“Now we know what to do on Saturday; don’t practice.  We can’t dial out the car.”

Earlier in the race, Busch said his race was over after a run-in on pit road with Brad Keselowski.  Busch even went as far as to say he would punch Keselowski in the face, but that none of that mattered in victory lane.

“We won, we aren’t worried about any of that nonsense now.”

Busch had to outrun Johnson, who led a race-high 296 laps.  He said his car just got looser as the race wound down, and that is what cost him the victory.

“I’d been loose in the final third of the race and was just hanging on there,” Johnson said.  “When he [Busch] got by me, I’d hoped he’d fall off, and we got back by him but we couldn’t hold on.  Just a little too loose there to get the win.”

The race was dominated early by Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano, who combined to lead 371 of the 500 laps on Sunday.  

Kyle Busch started on the pole, but he wasn’t able to lead for long because the first caution came out on the second lap when the field stacked up and Parker Kligerman spun.  

Busch led the field back to the green flag, but Johnson had taken the lead for the first time by the time competition caution came out on lap 40.

During the next run, Johnson traded the lead with Kenseth and Logano.  Johnson was leading when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall on lap 103 to bring out the third caution.

When the race went back to green, Kenseth and Logano raced for the lead until Michael Annett, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland and Michael McDowell got together to bring out another caution.

Logano led the field back to the restart, and he led until Johnson passed him for the top spot.  Greg Biffle passed Johnson for the lead, and Biffle led until the Casey Mears spun on lap 170.

Marcos Ambrose took over the lead during the caution, and he led until Kenseth took the lead on lap 196.  On lap 200, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. got together to bring out the caution.

A string of cautions kept the field bunched together, and Clint Bowyer raced hard with Johnson for the lead following a caution on lap 251.  Johnson continued to lead throughout four of the last five cautions, but Bowyer caught him on lap 450.  

Carl Edwards spun on lap 459 to bring out the final caution.  The field came down to make their final pit stops, and Bowyer was leading when the field came down.  Johnson won the race out of the pits, and Bowyer lost nine positions, which dropped him to 10th and out of contention.

Johnson led the field during the final restart, but Kurt Busch stayed right on his bumper.  Busch took the lead on lap 473, but Johnson got back around him on lap 483.  After racing hard, Busch got around Johnson for the final time on lap 490.  Busch was able to lead Johnson through lapped traffic to win the race.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Kurt Busch
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Joey Logano
5. Marcos Ambrose
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Aric Almirola
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Paul Menard
11. AJ Allmendinger
12. Jeff Gordon
13. Carl Edwards
14. Kyle Busch
15. Austin Dillon
16. Brian Vickers
17. Tony Stewart
18. Greg Biffle
19. Denny Hamlin
20. Ryan Newman
21. Martin Truex Jr.
22. Kasey Kahne
23. Justin Allgaier
24. Casey Mears
25. Landon Cassill
26. David Gilliland
27. Kyle Larson
28. David Ragan
29. Cole Whitt
30. Ryan Truex
31. Michael Annett
32. Danica Patrick
33. Travis Kvapil
34. Reed Sorenson
35. Josh Wise
36. Alex Bowman
37. Michael McDowell
38. Brad Keselowski
39. David Stremme
40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
41. Parker Kligerman
42. Jamie McMurray
43. Joe Nemechek

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads down south to Texas Motor Speedway.  The Duck Commander 500 will be next Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EST, only on FOX.

Photo courtesy Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

No comments:

Post a Comment