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Kyle Busch's Toyota Wins Dodge Challenger 500

by Pete McCole
Sunday, May 11, 2008


Race winner Kyle Busch takes a bow.  He is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now.

DARLINGTON, S. C. - Kyle Busch made it clear Saturday night that he demands respect, and the 22-year-old driver proved that he deserves it with a convincing victory in Saturday night’s Dodge Challenger 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the newly resurfaced Darlington Raceway.

This time, he didn’t have to spin anyone out to do it.

Just one week removed from his late race run-in with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. that cost him a victory at Richmond, Busch fought his way back from being a lap down to earn his first career victory at the “track too tough to tame”, beating out Carl Edwards by more than three seconds to notch his third victory of the season. Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt, Jr. and David Ragan followed.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Busch on victory lane. “Darlington showed again tonight that it’s one of the hardest places – always has been, always will be. Even with fresh asphalt this place is tough.”

Busch led 169 of the 367 laps despite a racecar that Busch called "the most pathetic he's seen in his life”, battling back from brake problems, a pit road miscue and so many scrapes against the wall that his no. 18 Toyota was missing most of its right-side decals.

“It just doesn’t turn,” Busch said of the new car. “It doesn’t want to do what it needs to do here. Anytime you want to get by somebody, you just have to save your stuff and try to maneuver past them somehow, someway, but it’s hard to do.”

Race winner Kyle Busch leads Dale Earnhardt Jr.  The two got together battling for the lead last weekend
Busch had been the topic of conversation among the media and fans alike over the past week after contact with Earnhardt, Jr. in the closing laps of last weekend’s race cost both he and Earnhardt a chance at a victory.

Busch’s actions on the track have led to him becoming one of the least popular drivers among the fans, who thoroughly booed Busch during pre-race driver introductions.

Despite his victory, Busch did little to win back the favor of the NASCAR fans, finishing off his victory burnout with a sarcastic bow to the sell-out crowd.

“I don’t care,” said Busch of his rude welcome from the fans. “I’m here to race, I’m here to win. If I win, it just makes ‘em more upset and crying on their way home.”

Busch had led 62 of the first 110 laps and was solidly in the top five before being penalized for a missing lug nut on lap 142.

Busch raced his way back onto the lead lap and moved back into the top five on lap 252 and just 18 laps later Busch was back in front of the field, moving past Gordon to re-take the top spot.

Busch and Gordon traded the lead again before Busch beat everyone off pit road during the final round of pit stops with 63 laps to go, leaving Edwards and Gordon behind as the race went green the rest of the way.

Edwards was snakebitten by the same vibration problem that plagued his four Roush-Fenway teammates, but Edwards stuck it out to pull out his fifth top-five finish of the season.

“My hat’s off to Kyle,” said Edwards. “I wanted to beat him so bad.”

“I’m definitely disappointed to finish second. Kyle had the fastest car tonight, he was pretty unbeatable. To finish second, beat the rest of the field, that’s pretty good from where we came from.”

Gordon’s third-place finish was only his fourth of the season, but a big comeback following his four previous finishes.

“We are definitely making big strides,” said Gordon. “(Crew chief) Steve Letarte just did an awesome job, he has these guys in the pits on their game, getting us out (of the pits) and gaining us spots all night long.  All I did was keep it off the wall.”

Gordon seemed to be able to keep up with Busch through the later stages of the race, but in the end Busch proved to have the strongest car in the field.

“I can tell you one thing, it wasn’t because of aerodynamics tonight because Kyle hit the wall I can’t tell you how many times,” said Gordon. “His right side was destroyed.”

Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Travis Kvapil, Dave Blaney and Jeff Burton rounded out the top ten.

Kyle Busch continues to lead the series point’s standings, followed by Burton, Earnhardt, Jr., Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.


1 6 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Mint Crisp M&M's "Indiana Jones" 195/10 367 Running
2 36 99 Carl Edwards Ford Claritin 170/0 367 Running
3 8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 170/5 367 Running
4 2 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Mountain Dew / AMP Energy / Nat'l Guard 165/5 367 Running
5 15 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 160/5 367 Running
6 34 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT NANO Technology 155/5 367 Running
7 21 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 151/5 367 Running
8 24 28 Travis Kvapil Ford LaFayette Ford 147/5 367 Running
9 13 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 138/0 367 Running
10 12 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 134/0 367 Running
11 25 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 135/5 367 Running
12 5 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 132/5 367 Running
13 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 124/0 367 Running
14 22 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 126/5 367 Running
15 38 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 118/0 367 Running
16 27 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 115/0 367 Running
17 9 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 112/0 367 Running
18 10 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 109/0 367 Running
19 30 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 106/0 367 Running
20 33 38 David Gilliland Ford 108/5 367 Running
21 4 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 100/0 365 Running
22 42 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 102/5 365 Running
23 19 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Wrigley's Big Red 94/0 365 Running
24 37 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 91/0 364 Running
25 28 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 88/0 364 Running
26 31 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 90/5 364 Running
27 26 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 82/0 363 Running
28 18 00 Michael McDowell * Toyota Brain Cancer Action Week 79/0 363 Running
29 16 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 76/0 362 Running
30 20 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 73/0 362 Running
31 17 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 70/0 362 Running
32 39 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 67/0 361 Running
33 40 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 64/0 360 Running
34 14 40 Sterling Marlin Dodge Dodge Challenger 61/0 349 Running
35 29 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 58/0 340 Running
36 41 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet NIBCO / Menards 55/0 339 Running
37 32 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 52/0 294 Running
38 23 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 49/0 269 Running
39 11 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 46/0 264 Running
40 43 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge LifeLock 48/5 262 Out of Race
41 35 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 40/0 249 Running
42 7 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge McDonald's 37/0 246 Running
43 1 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 39/5 234 Out of Race 

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