Kyle Busch wins again with Toyota
In a wild and wooly finish so typical of races at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch won by a whisker over hard-charging Carl Edwards with a chain-reaction accident behind them sending up a cloud of smoke that covered the track.
The race ended in a green-white-checkered finish after a spectacular night of racing that more resembled a Saturday night short track event where rubbing fenders and banging bumpers is a rule rather than exception. The bumping continued on a restart when Edwards tapped Gordon, who was second at the time, in the rear and sent him spinning off the track.
The untimely collision sent Gordon from second to 31st in the race rundown. Following Busch and Edwards across the finish line were Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Brian Vickers, Mark Martin and Travis Kvapil.
Kasey Kahne was 11th after racing with the leaders most of the night before a sideswipe with another driver cut a tire and forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop.
Former Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr., was next after another impressive run. Hornish kept his Dodge in contention throughout the 160-lap event before being caught up in the late race melee that scattered car parts all over the track. Michael Waltrip, Dave Blaney, Paul Menard and several other drivers were a part of the domino-type accident at the end. So was J. J. Yeley, who kept the Home Depot Toyota in contention after relief driving for Tony Stewart, who was under the weather and had to climb out of his car shortly before the halfway point.
Denny Hamlin, winner of Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide race, ran with the fastest cars before a shunt with this year's Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman ended his chances. Newman's night wound up a nightmare. He was involved in three accidents, the last one crippling his already-damaged machine.
Hamlin wound up 30th with Newman 36th.
It was Busch's sixth win of the season and he managed to do it after almost spinning out himself. A mishap earlier in the race put him way back in the pack but he made it back to the front by the end. He heads to Chicago still leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup points chase by a comfortable margin.
After a spectacular pre-race show with typical Fourth of July fireworks and the rollout of an enormous American flag, Menard led the 43-car from the pole in his DEI Chevrolet. Fan favorite Earnhardt quickly moved into second place with Johnny Sauter third.
At Lap 10, Menard still led but all eyes were on the No. 20 of Tony Stewart, who spent several hours in the care center prior to the race trying to figure out why he felt a little out of sorts. Stewart moved from 17th starting position to seventh. Sauter fell off the pace since he used a qualifying setup to make the race as did sports car ace Boris Said, who went from seventh starting position to 41st after 20 laps.
Earnhardt passed Menard for the lead on Lap 20, just before A. J. Allmendinger blew a right front tire after starting the race on a qualifying setup.
After a pit stop that included the entire field, Kyle Busch came out first, trailed by Menard, Smith, Blaney, Ragan, Kvapil, Kenseth, Vickers, Kevin Harvick and Stewart on the 24th lap.
It didn't take long for NASCAR's best drivers to produce some fireworks of their own. With Kyle Busch still leading, guys swapped positions behind him every lap. At times, the first 20 cars were running so close together, a matter of inches separated them on all sides. Earnhardt streaked to the front on the 36th lap with Busch second, Blaney third and Stewart once again storming towards the front in third place. The top 10 included Martin, Vickers, Kahne, Gordon, Kenseth and Kvapil.
Ryan Newman got a little help from Jamie McMurray exiting turn two and spun off the corner bringing out a caution on the 43rd lap.
Fortunately, Newman's Dodge made no contact with the walls and continued the race.
When racing resumed, it was Busch and Earnhardt up front with Stewart, Martin and Gordon right behind. Menard had fallen well back in the pack. By Lap 55, Earnhardt was back up front again with Martin and Gordon in tow.
Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya got together on the 70th lap coming out of turn four to bring out another caution.
Stewart, too sick to continue, was replaced by Yeley. The driver switch shoved Yeley back to 39th but he remained on the lead lap. Johnson had the lead when the race resumed and before you could blink an eye, teammate Gordon got a shove from Earnhardt and took the lead.
Point leader Busch almost lost control just a lap past the halfway point and swerved all over the track before regaining control of his Toyota. He dropped from a top five spot to 37th.
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