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Kurt Busch wins Dover Sprint Cup race

Holds off Johnson and Edwards
Sunday, October 02, 2011

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Kurt Busch
Getty Images for NASCAR
Roger Penske's team had a bad day at the Kentucky IndyCar race on Sunday but they won the Dover NASCAR Sprint Cup race with Kurt Busch bringing the No. 22 Dodge home first leading 87 laps. 

Thank you, Kurt Busch said, after screw-ups by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards put Busch in position to win Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

While Busch celebrated his second victory of the season and the 24th of his career in victory lane at the Monster Mile, runner-up Johnson and third-place Edwards sat in the nearby media center castigating themselves in the post race news conference.

Kurt Busch holds off Jimmie Johnson
Getty Images for NASCAR
Johnson stumbled on the last two restarts of the race, allowing Busch to take and retain a lead he held for the final 42 laps. Edwards trashed his own winning chances by speeding on pit road in a timed section he and crew chief Bob Osborne had discussed specifically before the race.

In a sense, though, all three drivers were winners. Busch, Johnson and Edwards took advantage of the struggles of Tony Stewart, who led the series after wins in the first two races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Fighting the handling of his No. 14 Chevrolet throughout the afternoon, Stewart lost his advantage in the standings by finishing 25th, two laps down. That left Edwards and 10th-place finisher Kevin Harvick tied for the series lead, with Stewart and Busch each nine points back and Johnson alone in fifth, 13 points behind Harvick and Edwards.

Kasey Kahne ran fourth Sunday, followed by Chase drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. AJ Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose and Harvick completed the top 10.

Busch and Johnson, who had tangled at Pocono and Richmond during NASCAR’s 26-race regular season, raced each other cleanly Sunday with Chase points on the line.

For Busch, the victory was redemption after a frustrating 22nd-place finish a week earlier at New Hampshire.

“It was just perfect execution today, with pit stops and with making the car better during the race,” Busch said. “I couldn’t be happier right now. To win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, this is what it’s all about. This is the playoffs.

“We had everything go wrong for us last week. We had everything go right for us this week. We just need nice smooth races from here.”

Johnson passed Harvick for the lead on Lap 195 and began to assert his dominance. With crew chief Chad Knaus adjusting the No. 48 Chevrolet to rapidly changing track conditions, Johnson was the class of the field.

It helped Johnson’s cause that his primary opposition had issues on pit road. Edwards, who led 116 laps before Johnson took over, received his first speeding penalty in the Cup series this season after a green-flag stop on Lap 245.

Edwards spun his tires after shifting from first to second gear and, thinking he needed to go faster, sped up as he exited pit road—too much according to NASCAR timing and scoring. It wasn’t until Lap 300, when J.J. Yeley’s Ford smacked the wall to bring out the eighth caution, that Edwards’ No. 99 Ford got a free pass back to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car.

“It was a great day, other than that feeling I had when I ruined it there on pit road,” Edwards said. “That’s about as small as you can feel in a racecar. We talked about it before the race. We looked at the pit-road speeding lines and that last line. … Bob and I actually discussed the last section. It’s 25 feet, 8 inches long, and we talked about that run and how I was not going to speed through it, and I just blasted right through it.

“We were very, very fortunate. As frustrated as I am with myself for messing that up, I’m really, really grateful for the gift that was given to us with that caution and the ability to come back up there. And the other thing that was really important to me was my guys sticking behind me, because they had every right to be really, really upset with me. So it ended up being a good finish.”

Johnson led from the restart on Lap 306 until Mike Bliss spun off Turn 2 to cause the ninth caution, but Busch grabbed the top spot moments after a restart on Lap 359 and kept Johnson at bay until Greg Biffle’s collision with the frontstretch wall on Lap 361 brought out caution No. 10.

On Lap 366, Busch once more got away from Johnson on the restart and maintained a margin of five car lengths as Edwards surged past Kahne into third place on Lap 370.

“I did a really good job, up until those last two (restarts),” Johnson said. “I have to say, when you’re the leader, you have a small advantage, because you go when you want. I blew it by spinning the tires. Kurt got a good launch, and we were door to door going into (Turn) 1, and he was able to get by on the outside.

“And then the next one, I was going to try to do that same thing back to him, and I was just trying to time it when he was going to accelerate. And I didn’t time it right. And I had too big of a gap, and fell in behind him going into Turn 1.

“I put it on me, because the starts I had earlier in the day, regardless of the lane, leading or not—I cleared them typically going into 1 so, it’s on me.”

There are still 7 races to go in the Chase and next up is Kansas. and Jimmie Johnson is coming on strong.  Can he win the title yet again?  Today wasn't a fuel mileage run and backmarkers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished back where he belongs and did not cloud the results - the drivers who are the real drivers in this series finished up front.

Points Standings for Chase Contenders

RANK +/- DRIVER POINTS BEHIND
1 +1 Kevin Harvick 2122 Leader
2 +2 Carl Edwards 2122 Leader
3 -2 Tony Stewart 2113 -9
4 +5 Kurt Busch 2113 -9
5 +5 Jimmie Johnson 2109 -13
6 -3 Brad Keselowski 2108 -14
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2108 -14
8 -2 Kyle Busch 2107 -15
9 -4 Jeff Gordon 2103 -19
10 -2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2088 -34
11 -- Ryan Newman 2081 -41

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 2 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 47/1 400 Running
2 6 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 44/2 400 Running
3 4 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 42/1 400 Running
4 9 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 40/0 400 Running
5 18 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 40/1 400 Running
6 5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 39/1 400 Running
7 7 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 38/1 400 Running
8 27 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 36/0 400 Running
9 12 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 35/0 400 Running
10 22 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem "Chasing the Cure" 35/1 400 Running
11 13 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 34/1 400 Running
12 34 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 32/0 400 Running
13 14 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 31/0 400 Running
14 30 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 30/0 400 Running
15 23 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 29/0 400 Running
16 3 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Pittsburgh Paints / Menards 28/0 400 Running
17 16 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 27/0 400 Running
18 11 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 26/0 400 Running
19 17 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 25/0 400 Running
20 15 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 25/1 400 Running
21 19 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 23/0 400 Running
22 24 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 22/0 398 Running
23 20 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army ROTC 21/0 398 Running
24 21 88 D. Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 20/0 398 Running
25 28 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 19/0 398 Running
26 8 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Grilling.com / Kingsford 18/0 398 Running
27 10 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Cubitron 17/0 397 Running
28 36 34 David Gilliland Ford Front Row Motorsports 16/0 397 Running
29 33 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 15/0 397 Running
30 1 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 15/1 396 Running
31 25 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 395 Running
32 41 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 12/0 395 Running
33 37 71 Andy Lally * Ford Interstate Moving Services 11/0 394 Running
34 43 38 J.J. Yeley Ford Drive Sober, Arrive Alive 10/0 390 Running
35 39 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 9/0 366 Running
36 40 32 Mike Bliss Ford Street King 0 346 Running
37 26 37 Josh Wise Ford Max Q Motorsports 0 56 In Pit
38 38 7 Reed Sorenson Dodge Speed Energy / Mapei / Menards 0 52 Out of Race
39 42 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 49 In Pit
40 35 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 5/1 44 In Pit
41 31 30 David Stremme Chevrolet Inception Motorsports 3/0 31 In Pit
42 29 46 Scott Speed Ford Red Line Oil / International Trucks 0 24 In Pit
43 32 55 Travis Kvapil Ford Front Row Motorsports 0 12 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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