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Kurt Busch wins Toyota/Save Mart 350

NASCAR Sprint Cup at Infineon
Sunday, June 26, 2011

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Clear sailing for Kurt Busch
Bob Heathcote/AR1.com
Sonoma County is famous for wineries, not woodsheds, but Kurt Busch found the latter Sunday at Infineon Raceway, administering a good old-fashioned whipping to his NASCAR Sprint Cup competition in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

See 190 Race Photos

Busch led 76 of 110 laps and beat runner-up Jeff Gordon to the finish line by 2.685 seconds to win his first race of the season and the 23rd of his career, tying him with Ricky Rudd for 26th on the career win list. The victory, which broke a 38-race drought, was Busch’s first on a road course.

By staying out front for most of the afternoon, Busch avoided the wildness exploding behind him — including a revenge play featuring Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers and sustained late-race drama involving Juan Pablo Montoya and a host of extras.

Gordon, who was mired in traffic for much of the day, parlayed pit strategy into his second-place finish by staying out on old tires late in the race. Series leader Carl Edwards did the same and came home third, extending his advantage in the standings to 25 points over second-place Kevin Harvick, who finished ninth Sunday.

Clint Bowyer ran fourth, followed by road-course ace Marcos Ambrose and polesitter Joey Logano. Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Harvick and Brad Keselowski — Busch’s Penske Racing teammate — completed the top 10.

Busch and crew chief Steve Addington hit on a two-pit-stop strategy for a race in which most drivers would require three stops. It worked to perfection.

“We developed the strategy from practice,” Busch said. “It gave us the calculations we needed, and it showed that we could make it on two stops. A lot of guys said that they couldn’t make it on two stops, so we knew there were going to be teams pitting around Lap 10, Lap 15 to get those fresher tires.

“So my thought was, inside the car, ‘Well, I need to continue to push this car hard and run a lap time that won’t allow those guys with fresh tires to chop off (the margin) and catch me. It was just one of those feelings where the crew was helping me, I was helping them, and the race played out perfectly for us.”

Busch led Truex through Turn 11 on Lap 87, but right behind him, Vickers jack-hammered Stewart into the tire barrier, destroying the rear end of Stewart’s Chevrolet. The back of Stewart’s car came to rest on top of a stack of tires, unable to move.

Vickers, who waited for Stewart to pass him before wrecking him, exacted revenge for a Lap 37 incident in which Stewart pile-drove Vickers’ Toyota into the same corner and started a seven-car chain-reaction collision that collected Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Chevrolet and eventually knocked the No. 88 out of the race.

Busch stayed on the track during the final caution and led the field to a restart on Lap 92. From that point on, it was no contest.

On more than one occasion, Montoya drove aggressively through the field, only to be derailed by contact with other cars. On fresh tires late in the race, he advanced to the sixth position before turning Kasey Kahne’s Toyota and falling back.

Soon after that incident, a three-car wreck involving Montoya, Keselowski and Kyle Busch dropped Montoya to 22nd at the finish.

“We got through the corner, and I just got on his bumper a little bit and moved him a little,” Montoya said of the incident with Keselowski. “Got a good run, and I guess he didn’t like it … he just plain and simple wrecked us.”

Not surprisingly, Keselowski had a different view.

“I don’t take any pride in all that stuff, but at some point, you’ve got to run your own deal,” he said. “It was pretty obvious that it was eat or be eaten, and I wasn’t going to be eaten.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 11 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 48/2 110 Running
2 13 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 42/0 110 Running
3 23 99 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts Ortho 41/0 110 Running
4 9 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 41/1 110 Running
5 8 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 39/0 110 Running
6 1 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 39/1 110 Running
7 12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation 37/0 110 Running
8 14 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 36/0 110 Running
9 26 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem Tankless Water Heaters 36/1 110 Running
10 15 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 34/0 110 Running
11 19 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Pretzel 33/0 110 Running
12 29 34 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 33/1 110 Running
13 7 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 31/0 110 Running
14 33 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 30/0 110 Running
15 2 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 29/0 110 Running
16 24 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 29/1 110 Running
17 3 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Duracell / Menards 27/0 110 Running
18 28 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Speed Energy / GNC 26/0 110 Running
19 16 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Farmers Insurance / GoDaddy.com 25/0 110 Running
20 6 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 24/0 110 Running
21 25 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 23/0 110 Running
22 17 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Cottonelle 23/1 110 Running
23 22 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 21/0 110 Running
24 32 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 20/0 110 Running
25 5 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 19/0 110 Running
26 43 46 Andy Pilgrim Chevrolet Red Line Oil 18/0 110 Running
27 42 37 Chris Cook Ford "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" 17/0 110 Running
28 30 51 Boris Said Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 16/0 110 Running
29 34 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 15/0 110 Running
30 38 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 14/0 110 Running
31 36 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Big Red 13/0 110 Running
32 39 32 Terry Labonte Ford C&J Energy 12/0 110 Running
33 40 181 Brian Simo Ford ARMA Energy 11/0 110 Running
34 27 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 10/0 108 Running
35 41 71 Andy Lally * Ford Interstate Moving Services 9/0 104 Running
36 10 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 8/0 103 Running
37 4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 8/1 99 Running
38 21 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox / Kleenex 6/0 91 Running
39 20 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 6/1 88 In Pit
40 31 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota Hostetler Almonds 0 66 In Pit
41 18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 3/0 45 In Pit
42 37 60 Mike Skinner Toyota Big Red 0 10 In Pit
43 35 177 P.J. Jones Dodge Speed Energy / GNC 1/0 5 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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