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Kyle Busch holds off Logano at Atlanta

by Pete McCole
Sunday, September 01, 2013

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Kyle Busch
Getty Images for NASCAR

The race for the championship took a major turn Sunday night as Kyle Busch clinched a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup while defending series champion Brad Keselowski saw his chances of a repeat title slip away with just one more race left before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.

Busch beat out Joey Logano to claim his fourth race victory of the season in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a race with major implications in the series points battle.

After fighting an ill-handling race car all night, Busch took the lead following a round of pit stops with 35 laps to go, beating Ryan Newman and Logano off pit road. Busch went onto lead the rest of the way, holding on through two more late caution flags to beat Logano by .740 seconds.

“My boys, my boys on pit road,” said Busch. “They’re amazing. I love those guys. I would do anything for them. I can’t say enough about this team and their work tonight. Their work tonight definitely helped me out a lot.

“For as bad as I may have been talking (on the radio), they certainly never gave up.  They kept going to work and trying to figure things out for me and make my life a little easier behind the wheel.”

Busch joined four other drivers locked up a spot in the 12-car Chase field on Sunday, including Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne.

It was quite a change from just a year ago, when Busch barely missed out on Chase spot by just three points, missing the cut for the second time in his career.

“A heck of a lot different than 365 days ago, I’ll tell you that much,” said Busch. “You know, it all comes full circle sometimes, but we were in a whole different situation 365 days ago and not being able to make the Chase, and tonight was a night where we needed to prove to ourselves that we're championship contenders.

“The championship is No. 1 on anybody's list. For me I'm a NASCAR driver, and I want to be able to win NASCAR championships. One of these days it will happen, and maybe it's 2013.  Hopefully it is.”

Martin Truex, Jr., nursing a broken wrist and driving with a cast on his arm, finished third. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

Logano’s second-place run gave a much needed boost to his effort to make it into the Chase field, but his good fortune came at the expense of his teammate and defending Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski who now finds himself on the outside looking in.

Keselowski, who came into Sundays race trailing Logano by four points for the 10th spot in the Chase, was leading the race with 82 laps to go when his engine started dropping cylinders. By lap 307, he was in the garage and done for the night, ending up finishing 35th – dropping him to 15th in points, 28 points out of 10th place.

With no victories this season, Keselowski has little chance of securing a wildcard berth and needs to finish in the top-10 in points to make the Chase field.

“What can you do?” said Keselowski.  “You can sit here and be mad and stomp your feet and be a jerk about it, but it just broke.  That’s racing.  It’s kind of been the story of our year.

“There’s only so much you can control.  Maybe this was control and maybe it wasn’t, but we ran up front and we continue to show that we at least have the pieces of what it takes every week to be a title threat and to be in the Chase, but we just haven’t put together all those pieces every week and that’s what it takes.”

Things didn’t go much better for the drivers already locked into the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson’s bad luck continued this week as the series points leader got tangled up in an early incident on a restart on lap 32, resulting in severe front-end damage for himself and teammate Kasey Kahne.

Johnson’s crew was able to patch is Chevrolet back together to eke out a 28th-place finish, while Kahne spent time behind the wall and ended up 36th, but still locked in the Chase.

With Johnson nursing a damaged car, the door was open for second-place points contender Clint Bowyer, who seemed poised to make up some points on Johnson after he grabbed the lead on lap 139, but Bowyers night ended early when his engine expired with 132 laps to go, and ended up losing ground to Johnson, now trailing by 28 points.

After Bowyer and Keselowski fell out of the lead, Logano regained the top spot and was at the front of the field when Johnson spun on lap 290 to bring out the yellow flag.

Logano led the field onto pit road, trailed by Newman, Kyle Busch and Harvick, but Busch’s crew got him out ahead of Newman and Logano, who momentarily got hung up behind Kurt Busch and lost the lead.

Logano eventually fell back as far as eighth after the restart as Kyle Busch had his hands full up front holding off his brother Kurt Busch – who roared up from eighth to second on the restart – and Martin Truex, Jr.

Logano would finally thread his way back to the front, passing Truex for second with four laps to go, but there was too much ground to make up and not enough laps to do it.

“I just needed five more laps for me to have a shot at it,” said Logano. “It’s just so frustrating when you’ve got the winning car and you don’t win. It took probably six laps to get it going and we proved that we had the long run car, and we were trying to get there.

“That’s three straight top fives with this car, thought, and that’s impressive.  We’ll take that and it was a big points day for us for Richmond next week, so we have nothing to hold our heads down about. Second sucks, but we can’t be too mad about it.”

After fighting an ill-handling race car all night, Busch took the lead following a round of pit stops with 35 laps to go, beating Ryan Newman and Logano off pit road. Busch went onto lead the rest of the way, holding on through two more late caution flags to beat Logano by .740 seconds.

“My boys, my boys on pit road,” said Busch. “They’re amazing. I love those guys. I would do anything for them. I can’t say enough about this team and their work tonight. Their work tonight definitely helped me out a lot.

“For as bad as I may have been talking (on the radio), they certainly never gave up.  They kept going to work and trying to figure things out for me and make my life a little easier behind the wheel.”

Busch joined four other drivers locked up a spot in the 12-car Chase field on Sunday, including Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne.

It was quite a change from just a year ago, when Busch barely missed out on Chase spot by just three points, missing the cut for the second time in his career.

“A heck of a lot different than 365 days ago, I’ll tell you that much,” said Busch. “You know, it all comes full circle sometimes, but we were in a whole different situation 365 days ago and not being able to make the Chase, and tonight was a night where we needed to prove to ourselves that we're championship contenders.

“The championship is No. 1 on anybody's list. For me I'm a NASCAR driver, and I want to be able to win NASCAR championships. One of these days it will happen, and maybe it's 2013.  Hopefully it is.”

Martin Truex, Jr., nursing a broken wrist and driving with a cast on his arm, finished third. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

Logano’s second-place run gave a much needed boost to his effort to make it into the Chase field, but his good fortune came at the expense of his teammate and defending Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski who now finds himself on the outside looking in.

Keselowski, who came into Sundays race trailing Logano by four points for the 10th spot in the Chase, was leading the race with 82 laps to go when his engine started dropping cylinders. By lap 307, he was in the garage and done for the night, ending up finishing 35th – dropping him to 15th in points, 28 points out of 10th place.

With no victories this season, Keselowski has little chance of securing a wildcard berth and needs to finish in the top-10 in points to make the Chase field.

“What can you do?” said Keselowski.  “You can sit here and be mad and stomp your feet and be a jerk about it, but it just broke.  That’s racing.  It’s kind of been the story of our year.

“There’s only so much you can control.  Maybe this was control and maybe it wasn’t, but we ran up front and we continue to show that we at least have the pieces of what it takes every week to be a title threat and to be in the Chase, but we just haven’t put together all those pieces every week and that’s what it takes.”

Things didn’t go much better for the drivers already locked into the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson’s bad luck continued this week as the series points leader got tangled up in an early incident on a restart on lap 32, resulting in severe front-end damage for himself and teammate Kasey Kahne.

Johnson’s crew was able to patch is Chevrolet back together to eke out a 28th-place finish, while Kahne spent time behind the wall and ended up 36th, but still locked in the Chase.

With Johnson nursing a damaged car, the door was open for second-place points contender Clint Bowyer, who seemed poised to make up some points on Johnson after he grabbed the lead on lap 139, but Bowyers night ended early when his engine expired with 132 laps to go, and ended up losing ground to Johnson, now trailing by 28 points.

After Bowyer and Keselowski fell out of the lead, Logano regained the top spot and was at the front of the field when Johnson spun on lap 290 to bring out the yellow flag.

Logano led the field onto pit road, trailed by Newman, Kyle Busch and Harvick, but Busch’s crew got him out ahead of Newman and Logano, who momentarily got hung up behind Kurt Busch and lost the lead.

Logano eventually fell back as far as eighth after the restart as Kyle Busch had his hands full up front holding off his brother Kurt Busch – who roared up from eighth to second on the restart – and Martin Truex, Jr.

Logano would finally thread his way back to the front, passing Truex for second with four laps to go, but there was too much ground to make up and not enough laps to do it.

“I just needed five more laps for me to have a shot at it,” said Logano. “It’s just so frustrating when you’ve got the winning car and you don’t win. It took probably six laps to get it going and we proved that we had the long run car, and we were trying to get there.

“That’s three straight top fives with this car, thought, and that’s impressive.  We’ll take that and it was a big points day for us for Richmond next week, so we have nothing to hold our heads down about. Second sucks, but we can’t be too mad about it.”

Results

Pos Car Driver Make St Laps Led Status
1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 9 325 36 Running
2 22 Joey Logano Ford 11 325 78 Running
3 56 Martin Truex Jr Toyota 7 325 0 Running
4 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 32 325 0 Running
5 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 17 325 3 Running
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 5 325 17 Running
7 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 3 325 38 Running
8 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 8 325 0 Running
9 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 30 325 0 Running
10 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 22 325 0 Running
11 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 15 325 0 Running
12 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 6 325 0 Running
13 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 20 325 0 Running
14 47 AJ Allmendinger Toyota 13 325 0 Running
15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 24 325 0 Running
16 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 1 325 0 Running
17 38 David Gilliland Ford 31 325 0 Running
18 99 Carl Edwards Ford 2 324 68 Running
19 33 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 26 324 0 Running
20 43 Aric Almirola Ford 29 323 0 Running
21 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 21 323 0 Running
22 13 Casey Mears Ford 19 323 1 Running
23 34 David Ragan Ford 14 323 1 Running
24 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 16 322 0 Running
25 14 Mark Martin Chevrolet 27 322 0 Running
26 7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 36 322 0 Running
27 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 37 322 0 Running
28 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 10 321 0 Running
29 30 David Stremme Toyota 25 321 0 Running
30 36 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 42 321 2 Running
31 32 Timmy Hill Ford 41 321 0 Running
32 83 David Reutimann Toyota 34 320 0 Running
33 51 Mike Bliss Chevrolet 38 319 0 Running
34 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 28 319 0 Running
35 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 23 307 31 Engine
36 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 18 292 0 Running
37 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 39 249 1 Engine
38 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 4 231 0 Engine
39 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 12 192 48 Engine
40 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 40 114 0 Vibration
41 35 Josh Wise Ford 33 94 0 Vibration
42 98 Michael McDowell Ford 43 92 1 Vibration
43 95 Scott Speed Ford 35 22 0 Vibration

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