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Kyle Busch dominates for Toyota 1-2 at Bristol

by Pete McCole
Sunday, March 22, 2009


Kyle Busch celebrates winning the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The win was Busch's 14th in his career and second at Bristol
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

One day after an errant tire cost him a shot at a victory in the Nationwide Series, Kyle Busch returned to Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday and did what he does best – take the checkered flag and dominate the competition while doing it.

With last Saturday’s pit road gaffe still fresh in his mind, Busch went on to lead 378 of 502 laps to hold off his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in a green-white-checkered finish to win the Food City 500 for his 14th career Sprint Cup victory.

Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.

“It’s pretty awesome. We should’ve won here last fall and we should’ve won here yesterday. It was a good day for us,” said Busch. “The Snickers Toyota was really fast. We knew it was fast. We knew it was going to be a good racecar coming here from our performance last fall. We fine-tuned on it a little bit here and there.

“We need to work on the qualifying package a little bit. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter where you start here. You have to bide your time, take it easy when you have a car that’s good.

“It was a very satisfying day today,” added Busch, with a shameless nod to his sponsor.

During Saturday’s race, Busch also had the most dominant car of the day, leading a race-high 157 laps before the final pit stop of the day, where the spent right rear tire got away from the crew and rolled onto pit road, earning Busch a costly penalty that cost him the race.

“Yesterday was yesterday. We put that behind us,” said Busch. “Yeah, it was very frustrating.  It's one you'll never get back.  It's lost, gone.  We looked forward to today.  Everybody put their job from yesterday behind them but thought about how to make today better and not have those same mistakes happen again.”

Saturday’s Nationwide race wasn’t the first time a Bristol victory slipped away from Busch.

After leading a race-high 415 laps here last August, Busch was muscled out of the way by Carl Edwards with 30 laps to go as Edwards went on to win the race.

This time, even though it was a teammate in his rear-view mirror, Busch wasn’t going to let anybody get in his way.

“It was a teammate behind me, so I was hoping he was going to be good, not get into me anything like that, what happened last year,” said Busch. “I've got full belief in Denny, trust him.  So it was a great race for us.  If it came down to it the reverse way, if I couldn't get by him clean, I wouldn't try too hard to make it worse for the both of us.”

In a twist of irony, after the pit road mistake on Saturday, it was Busch’s final pit stop of the day that put him over the top, beating Hamlin and Johnson off pit road to put him in the lead for good with 57 laps to go.
“The second to last stop when we went from second to Denny, we went from second to third, I told the ladies to man up, get the job done on the last stop, which they did,” said Busch. “I'm proud of 'em for doing that.  When the time mattered most, they got the job done. “You'll have those days.  You'll have some days where the guys on pit road just have an off day.  I have off days.  Yesterday was one of those days and it cost us a chance at a win.  Today was a good day today where everybody did their job and the last stop was smooth.  It's what made it happen.”

Once back out in front, Busch led the remaining scheduled laps before his other JGR teammate Joey Logano blew an engine with five laps to go, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.

Busch restarted the race with Hamlin in tow, getting a great jump while Hamlin had his hands full holding off Johnson for second, leaving Busch to run uncontested to the finish.

“I knew unless we got out on pit road ahead of him on that last pit stop, it was going to be tough,” said Hamlin. “Fortunately for us, I felt like we had a shot even at the end of the race.  But that last caution, we were able to stay within two or three car lengths.  That's as close as we'd been all day on the short run.

“It's a positive that we come out of here.  On average we had about a second place car.  I felt like we had a third place car on the short run, and a first place car on the long run.  But that's just one of those things.  You take today, it puts us in the Chase right now.  So that's a good day for us.”

While Busch avoided any further problems in the pits, Johnson’s final stop proved to be a pivotal moment in the race, as his pit crew experienced a problem with the left rear tire that cost Johnson a shot at the win.

“Whoever came out in the lead on the last pit stop was going to be in pretty good shape,” said Johnson. “We all kind of assumed there would be a couple cautions.  The stop before that I held onto the lead for quite some time.  Maybe didn't have the fastest car over the whole run, but took off well. 

“We had a little trouble on that pit stop but third place is awfully good. If we had a couple quick cautions, I think I could have held on till the end.”

Jeff Gordon retains the series points lead by 76 over Kurt Busch. Clint Bowyer holds onto third while Kyle Busch jumps up three spots to fourth in points ahead of Carl Edwards.

Sunday’s race also marked a turning point in the series standings, as the top-35 are now determined by the current season’s points.

Polesitter Mark Martin came into Sunday’s race dangerously close to falling out of the top-35, but his sixth-place finish boosted him to 31st in the standings. John Andretti, Logano and David Gilliland also leave Bristol with a guaranteed spot in next week’s race.

Among the bubble teams on the outside looking in are Scott Speed and Aric Almirola, along with both of the Yates Racing entries of Paul Menard and Travis Kvapil.

All teams outside the top-35 must qualify in speed for next weeks race at Martinsville, but Yates Racing has said unless a sponsor can be found for Kvapil’s no. 28 Ford, the team will cease operations.


1 19 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Snickers 195/10 503 Running
2 24 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 175/5 503 Running
3 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 170/5 503 Running
4 10 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 160/0 503 Running
5 5 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 155/0 503 Running
6 1 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Carquest / Kellogg's 155/5 503 Running
7 2 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 151/5 503 Running
8 40 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 142/0 503 Running
9 12 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 138/0 503 Running
10 13 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 139/5 503 Running
11 32 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 130/0 503 Running
12 6 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 132/5 503 Running
13 31 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 124/0 503 Running
14 34 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 121/0 503 Running
15 38 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 118/0 503 Running
16 26 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Charter Comm. 115/0 503 Running
17 15 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 112/0 502 Running
18 17 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Golden Corral 109/0 502 Running
19 29 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 106/0 502 Running
20 22 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 103/0 502 Running
21 35 7 Robby Gordon Toyota SPOT 100/0 501 Running
22 36 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Academy Sports + Outdoors 97/0 501 Running
23 7 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 94/0 501 Running
24 37 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 91/0 501 Running
25 42 98 Paul Menard Ford Johns Manville / Menards 88/0 501 Running
26 20 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 85/0 501 Running
27 41 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 82/0 500 Running
28 11 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 79/0 500 Running
29 27 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 76/0 499 Running
30 30 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 73/0 499 Running
31 25 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 70/0 499 Running
32 21 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA 72/5 497 Running
33 33 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 64/0 497 Running
34 39 34 John Andretti Chevrolet 61/0 495 Running
35 18 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet Champion Apparel 58/0 494 Running
36 14 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet Capital Window 55/0 493 Running
37 9 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 52/0 491 Running
38 23 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 49/0 490 Engine
39 4 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 46/0 326 Engine
40 43 09 Sterling Marlin Dodge Phoenix Racing 43/0 91 Steering
41 28 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 40/0 82 Rear End
42 16 64 Todd Bodine Toyota Fred's Hometown Discount Store 37/0 58 Accident
43 8 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 34/0 33 Steering

* Denotes Rookie

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