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Kurt Busch wins rain shortened Cup race in Loudon

Sprint Cup Series
Sunday, June 29, 2008

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Kurt Busch celebrates his first win of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season after taking the checkered flag in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

Kurt Busch and his No. 2 Miller Lite team decided to go for fuel mileage Sunday, hoping to salvage a good finish in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

For most of the afternoon, Busch raced under the radar while Tony Stewart, Casey Mears and a few others battled way ahead for the lead.

But Mother Nature smiled on Busch and a few other drivers after 284 of the 301 scheduled laps, drenching the track just 17 laps from completion.

The result?

Busch, who had inherited the lead when all the front-running cars had to pit for fuel after an accident brought out the day's fifth caution, captured his 18th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory

He wasn't alone in good fortune. Michael Waltrip, who finished second, and J. J. Yeley, who finished third, had pitted out of sequence from the leaders along with several other drivers and could make it to the finish without stopping again. All these cars were cruising around the track while Stewart and Co. were running flat-out towards the finish line.

"It's better sometimes to be lucky than good," Busch said afterwards. "We gambled on fuel mileage and came out ahead."
 
Trailing Busch, Waltrip and Yeley were Martin Truex, Jr., Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson, Mears, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Stewart and Kevin Harvick.

The accident that sent all the leaders to the pits happened on lap 271 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr., dropped down out of the groove to pit. Jamie McMurray didn't see Earnhardt and smashed the rear end of Junior's car, which spun down pit road. McMurray's car careened across the race track and collected the side of David Ragan's car, spinning him around. 

The finish was one of the more bizarre this season and produced another new winner in Kurt Busch. Ten different drivers have now won races this season.

The final caution fell just before the rain when Bowyer and Sam Hornish, Jr., got together in turn three.

Points leader Kyle Busch, who struggled most of the day, got into a bumping incident under this caution with former Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya turned Busch around, ending any chance Busch might have had for a better finish. Busch wound up 25th. NASCAR docked Montoya two laps for "aggressive driving," and the penalty put him in 32nd.

Threatening rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm and excitement of a near-capacity crowd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

French-Canadian Patrick Carpentier, a fan favorite in this part of the country, started from his first pole position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Carpentier, however, dropped to third by the fifth lap behind Harvick and Bobby Labonte. By lap 30, Harvick and Earnhardt, Jr., were a couple of seconds ahead with the cream of the NASCAR crop spaced out over a straightaway. Labonte was third, followed by Carpentier, Truex, A. J. Allmendinger, Hamlin, Kahne, Sorenson and Scott Riggs.

Earnhardt passed Harvick for the lead on the 45th lap, much to the delight of his rabid fans.

After the first green-flag pit stops, Harvick was back up front with Kahne on his bumper. Earnhardt was third at lap 86 when David Reutimann tapped Dario Franchitti's left rear fender, turning Franchitti around.

On the ensuing restart, Mears and Brian Vickers were up front with Harvick third. Stewart had moved from 28th starting position to fourth and Bowyer had moved from 18th to fifth. Bowyer, who won here last fall, had predicted a close, competitive race after practice on Saturday.

Behind Bowyer was Gordon, Hamlin and Johnson. Earnhardt was next, followed by Kahne, Truex and Labonte. Burton and Kyle Busch were next.

A caution for debris on the track slowed the fast-paced field at lap 140, with a majority of the field making a pit stop.

Stewart's No. 20 Home Depot pit crew put his Toyota back on the track first with Mears on his bumper. It was the first time Stewart led Sunday after having won Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. By the halfway point (150 laps of the 301-lap distance), Stewart was leading Mears by a few car lengths. Gordon had moved to third.

Joe Nemechek spun to bring out another caution just a few laps after the restart.

The top 10 on the restart were Stewart, Gordon, Mears, Harvick, Bowyer, Johnson, Earnhardt, Hamlin, Burton and Truex.   

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS
1 26 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 190/5 284
2 36 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 170/0 284
3 30 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 165/0 284
4 8 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 160/0 284
5 11 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Hancock / Best Buy / Garmin 155/0 284
6 6 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 150/0 284
7 24 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 151/5 284
8 12 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 142/0 284
9 23 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 138/0 284
10 2 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 134/0 284
11 19 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 130/0 284
12 31 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet LENOX Industrial Tools 127/0 284
13 28 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 134/10 284
14 3 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 126/5 284
15 16 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 118/0 284
16 40 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 115/0 284
17 17 99 Carl Edwards Ford DISH Network / DishDVRs 112/0 284
18 9 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 109/0 284
19 29 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 106/0 284
20 43 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row/ DenverMattress.com 108/5 284
21 15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 100/0 284
22 39 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 97/0 284
23 5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 99/5 284
24 27 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 91/0 284
25 32 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 88/0 284
26 18 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 85/0 284
27 22 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Camping World/ RVs.com 87/5 284
28 25 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 79/0 284
29 33 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 76/0 284
30 42 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Sylvania / Menards 73/0 282
31 14 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 70/0 282
32 1 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge Berlin City Auto Group 72/5 282
33 41 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 64/0 281
34 4 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 61/0 281
35 34 45 Terry Labonte Dodge Victory Junction Gang 58/0 281
36 21 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Ford. Drive one. 55/0 281
37 37 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Atlas Copco 52/0 280
38 7 40 Dario Franchitti * Dodge The Guitar Hero / Target 49/0 280
39 20 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 46/0 280
40 35 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance / Red Sox 43/0 272
41 13 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Industrial Tools 40/0 271
42 38 00 Michael McDowell * Toyota Champion Mortgage 37/0 209
43 10 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 34/0 202

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