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Busch: Burton wins fourth race Of season

Jeff Burton
CIA Stock Photo

In a war of attrition—and on the night of a milestone—Jeff Burton pulled away from Kyle Busch during an 11-lap green-flag run to the finish to win the Dollar General 300 Busch Series race Friday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Burton finished 1.598 seconds ahead of Busch and extended the lead of his No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to 116 points in the owner’s standings over the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy driven by Denny Hamlin, who finished fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran third, followed by Aric Almirola.

“We had a really good car, and we got better as the night went along,” said Burton, who started at the rear of the field because of an engine change and drove to the front to win his fourth Busch race of the year and the 26th of his career. “We had some luck today, and we just got it right when it counted. It was fun to drive.”

Burton was losing ground to second place Earnhardt before the 10th and final caution flew on Lap 186 after Reed Sorenson crashed into the Turn 4 wall.

“I was glad to see that caution,” Burton said. “I don’t think I would have been able to hold Junior off.”

After qualifying 36th Friday afternoon, Jason Keller became the career leader in Busch Series starts when he took the green flag in his 418th race. Though Keller, 37, surpassed the 417 starts of Tommy Houston, who retired at age 51 in 1996, his night ended early in a crash on Lap 133.

Neither of the two strongest cars—the No. 60 Ford of series points leader Carl Edwards and the No. 16 Ford of polesitter Greg Biffle—finished the race.

The Roush Fenway teammates dominated the first two-thirds of the race, with Edwards having led 60 laps and Biffle 51 by the time they came to the pits on lap 128 under caution for Blake Bjorkland’s blown engine. Earlier, Edwards had opened an advantage of 5.137 seconds over Biffle, before NASCAR waved the yellow flag for debris on the racetrack on Lap

But the race changed dramatically moments after a restart on Lap 133. Jimmie Johnson, running ninth, lost control of the No. 48 Chevrolet, igniting a wreck that also collected Edwards, who had lost nine positions in the pits while his crew inserted a spring rubber in the right rear. The crash also eliminated the cars of Keller and Matt Kenseth.

“I should have just locked it down and slid,” Edwards said, second-guessing his attempt to steer around the wreck. “But there were a lot of people behind me. We had the best car. Too bad we couldn’t win.”

Through no fault of his own, Biffle met disaster one lap after the subsequent restart on Lap 138. With a fuel-only stop under the previous caution, Clint Bowyer had taken the lead, but he lost control of his No. 2 Chevy at the Turn 4 exit and slid up into Biffle’s Ford, knocking the polesitter out of the race.

“Clint didn’t take any tires, and he was trying to hold us off,” Biffle said. “We had four new tires. Usually, experienced guys don’t make mistakes like that. It’s inexperienced guys driving over their heads a little bit that make mistakes like that.

“It’s really, really terrible, because that was almost about like a gimme win for us tonight if something crazy like that didn’t happen.”

Note: Despite a scrape with the wall, David Reutimann finished 12th and remained mathematically alive in the race for the Busch Series drivers championship. He trails Edwards by 638 points.

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