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Kurt Busch wins fuel mileage snoozefest in Texas

NASCAR Sprint Cup race
Sunday, November 08, 2009

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Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates by firing two Beretta's into the air on Victory Lane after winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
In recent weeks, Jimmie Johnson has worn out the already threadbare phrase, “Anything can happen in our sport.”

On Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, it finally did.

Capitalizing on superior fuel mileage, Kurt Busch drove his No. 2 Dodge to victory in the Dickies 500, after disaster struck Johnson like a lightning bolt and made a race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after all.

Johnson suffered a Lap 3 wreck that sidelined his No. 48 Chevrolet for more than an hour as his team made extensive repairs. With a 38th-place finish, Johnson lost 111 points of his 184-point lead in the Chase to second-place Mark Martin, who finished fourth and trails Johnson by 73 points with two races left.

Busch won the race at the expense of brother Kyle Busch, who ran out of fuel three laps short of completing an unprecedented weekend sweep of races in NASCAR’s top three divisions. Busch had won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday and the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday.

After pitting on Lap 269 of 334, Kyle Busch was leading and trying to conserve fuel when he ran out on the backstretch on Lap 331. “I’m out! I’m out—coming to you!” he radioed to crew chief Dave Rogers, who had replaced Steve Addington on the pit box after last Sunday’s race at Talladega.

That handed the lead to Kurt, who had pitted on Lap 271 and had saved enough fuel to make it to the finish line.

Denny Hamlin took advantage of the pervasive gas shortage to finish second, 25.686 seconds behind Busch, the largest margin of victory in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race since the inception of electronic scoring in May 1993. Matt Kenseth ran third, followed by Martin, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. Those were the only six drivers to finish on the lead lap, the fewest since six cars finished on the lead lap in June 2008 at Dover.

“I knew what we had for fuel mileage — I was confident in our guys’ numbers,” Kurt Busch said in Victory Lane. “They gave me what I needed to win today. We were fast, we were playing cat-and-mouse with Kyle on restarts — you know, it’s the first true time that Kyle and I have raced each other hard for a victory like this.

“For us to come away and knock him off his sweep — he was trying to go for it — it’s bittersweet. I was rooting for him, but at the same time, this is for us.”

Johnson’s heretofore flawless run to a record fourth straight championship hit a major snag after a tap from David Reutimann in Turn 2 started Sam Hornish Jr. sliding up the track into Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet.

Johnson fought for control before spinning back into Hornish’s No. 77 Dodge and slamming into the inside wall. Johnson was off the track for an hour and eight minutes while his crew worked frantically to repair the car, which suffered heavy damage to the front and rear.

The No. 48 Chevy returned the track on Lap 115 and gained five positions through the attrition of other cars.

Johnson stayed in the car through the entire repair process.

“Just sat in the car, was thinking through what went on, how I could have done something different,” he said. “(I was) on the outside lane, driving by a couple cars, and I didn't really even see the 77 get loose. I got clobbered from the side. Around I went. 

“I thought about those things sitting in the pits. Watched the guys, hoped that they could get the car fixed and on track. I could see the televisions, was watching the race. Just kind of paid attention to where the 5 (Martin) and 24 (polesitter Jeff Gordon, who finished 13th and trails Johnson by 112 points) were on track.”

“I guess after enough time sitting there, I finally calmed down some and caught my breath and relaxed. But the first 20, 30 minutes of that were pretty painful.”

Notes: Kurt Busch gained two positions to fourth in the standings and trails Johnson by 171 points. … Brad Keselowski was the victim of a Lap 175 crash and finished 35th in his debut in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge. … Juan Pablo Montoya, who triggered that wreck in Turn 2, came home 37th and dropped two positions to sixth in points. … Busch made a $1 million winner of Michael McGee, the race sponsor’s American Worker of the Year. McGee picked Busch to win in a random drawing on Saturday.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 3 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 190/5 334 Running
2 25 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 175/5 334 Running
3 30 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 165/0 334 Running
4 7 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Carquest / Kellogg's 160/0 334 Running
5 24 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 155/0 334 Running
6 4 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 150/0 334 Running
7 10 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 146/0 334 Running
8 8 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Scotch Super 33 Tape 142/0 334 Running
9 42 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 138/0 334 Running
10 16 44 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Ford. Drive one. 134/0 334 Running
11 5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 140/10 334 Running
12 26 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 127/0 334 Running
13 1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 129/5 334 Running
14 27 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 121/0 334 Running
15 19 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie Cupcakes / Kingsford / Clorox 118/0 334 In Pit
16 13 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 115/0 334 Running
17 17 6 David Ragan Ford UPS / Boys & Girls Clubs 112/0 332 Running
18 31 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 109/0 332 Running
19 14 20 Joey Logano * Toyota Home Depot 106/0 332 Running
20 22 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 103/0 332 Running
21 36 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Choctaw Casino Resort 100/0 332 Running
22 33 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley 97/0 332 Running
23 40 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 94/0 331 Running
24 41 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 91/0 331 Running
25 9 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 88/0 331 Running
26 15 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 85/0 331 Running
27 29 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Mapei / Menards 82/0 331 Running
28 21 202 David Gilliland Toyota Farm Bureau Insurance 79/0 331 Running
29 39 98 Paul Menard Ford Vertis / Menards 76/0 331 Running
30 38 96 Erik Darnell Ford Academy Sports + Outdoors 73/0 331 Running
31 28 171 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet CBR Motorcars 70/0 331 Running
32 32 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 67/0 330 Running
33 2 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 64/0 330 Running
34 43 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 61/0 311 In Pit
35 35 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 58/0 262 Running
36 18 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Valvoline 55/0 248 Running
37 20 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target / Dream in Color 52/0 231 Running
38 12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 49/0 205 Running
39 6 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 46/0 174 In Pit
40 11 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge AAA 43/0 88 In Pit
41 37 36 Michael McDowell Toyota Wave Energy Drink 40/0 20 In Pit
42 34 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 37/0 13 Out of Race
43 23 170 Mike Skinner Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 34/0 6 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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