|Kyle Busch celebrates with his crew in Victory Lane after winning the Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400 Saturday night – just a few hours before his 25th birthday|
|John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR|
Frustration continued to dog Jeff Gordon, but on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, it was polesitter Kyle Busch—not four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson—who kept Gordon out of Victory Lane.
Busch surged past Gordon after a restart with five laps left in the Crown Royal Heath Calhoun 400 and cleared Gordon's Chevrolet to the outside through Turns 3 and 4. Four laps later, Busch beat Gordon to the finish line by .755 seconds.
The victory was Busch's 17th in the series. Kevin Harvick ran third behind Gordon, followed by Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards. Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose and Johnson completed the top 10. Harvick took over the lead in the series standings from Johnson, who trails by 10 points through 10 events.
All told, Busch led 226 of 400 laps to Gordon's 144.
|Kyle Busch battled Jeff Gordon throughout Saturday’s race as the dominate cars. With eight different race leaders, Busch claimed 226 laps while Gordon was out front for 144 laps|
|Al Bello/Getty Images for NASCAR|
"I figured I was going to get the outside (for the last restart)," said Busch, who won the spring race at Richmond for the second straight year. "All I wanted to do was just get into Turn 1 smooth and get a good launch up off Turn 2 down the backstretch—and then make sure I got into (Turn) 3 without over-driving it. …
"I knew if I could just get through Turn 3 OK and hammer down off Turn 4 and get him cleared that it would be pretty good—and it worked. That's what I did. Did I have a plan? Was that exactly my plan? No. I was just going to drive it as hard as I could, and make whatever happened happen. It worked, just off the cuff."
Gordon finished second for the eighth time since his last win in the series on April 5, 2009 at Texas, 39 races ago.
"I've been doing this long enough to know they don't give out trophies for leading any lap other than the last one," said Gordon, who reached the boiling point at Talladega last week after Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, forced him onto the apron in Turn 3. Moments later, Gordon was wrecked.
"We're a team that's made huge strides, in my opinion, from last year. … That's what I'm excited about. We're leading laps at a lot of different types of tracks, and I think our team is really on top of our game.
"Yeah, it's a little disappointing that we haven't won some races yet, but if we keep doing this, those will come. We've got to keep putting ourselves in position."
|With just five laps left, Kyle Busch pulled ahead of Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick to take the checkered flag Saturday night in Richmond. Harvick, who finished third, now leads the point standings with 1,467, just 1 points over Jimmie Johnson (1,457).|
|Al Bello/Getty Images for NASCAR|
Gordon led by 2.566 seconds when Elliott Sadler slid through the frontstretch grass with four flat tires to bring out the fourth caution of the race on Lap 367. When pit road opened on Lap 373, Gordon, Burton, Harvick, Montoya and Ryan Newman stayed out on tires that were three laps old when the caution flew.
Busch, Denny Hamlin, Truex Jr. and Edwards led a group to pit road for fresh rubber in preparation for a restart on Lap 378. Gordon was leading when the sixth caution flew on Lap 389 for Sam Hornish Jr.'s wreck on the backstretch. That set up the five-lap dash to the finish.
Busch ran away with the first half of the race, leading all but eight of the first 229 laps before Burton powered past him in Turn 3 on Lap 230. Burton held the top spot for 20 laps, only to surrender it to Gordon, whose car came to life in the middle of a long green-flag run.
"I have no idea how this has just happened—but I'm liking it," Gordon radioed to crew chief Steve Letarte after the pass for the lead. Gordon extended his advantage through a cycle of green-flag pit stops, and by Lap 300 he had stretched his advantage over Harvick to 2.878 seconds.
Notes: Edwards led Laps 269 and 270 during a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Those were the only laps he has led this year, ending a 12-race drought dating to Talladega in November 2009. … Busch gave Dave Rogers his first victory as a Sprint Cup crew chief.
|5||28||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Scotts EZ Seed||160/5||400||Running|
|7||26||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||151/5||400||Running|
|8||5||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||U.S. Army Medicine||147/5||400||Running|
|9||20||47||Marcos Ambrose||Toyota||Bush's Best Baked Beans / Kingsford||138/0||400||Running|
|10||3||48||Jimmie Johnson||Chevrolet||Lowe's / Kobalt Tools||134/0||400||Running|
|11||30||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Ground||130/0||400||Running|
|13||21||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Crown Royal||124/0||400||Running|
|14||6||12||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Dodge Motorsports||121/0||400||Running|
|15||2||00||David Reutimann||Toyota||Aaron's Dream Machine||118/0||400||Running|
|16||23||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||The Home Depot||115/0||400||Running|
|18||16||2||Kurt Busch||Dodge||Miller Lite||109/0||400||Running|
|19||8||1||Jamie McMurray||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Tracker||106/0||399||Running|
|20||9||83||Brian Vickers||Toyota||Red Bull||103/0||399||Running|
|21||22||9||Kasey Kahne||Ford||Budweiser 25th Anniversary||100/0||399||Running|
|23||18||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Office Depot / Old Spice||99/5||399||Running|
|25||14||5||Mark Martin||Chevrolet||HendrickCars.com / GoDaddy.com||88/0||399||Running|
|26||13||36||Casey Mears||Chevrolet||H.D. Segur, Inc. Insurance||85/0||399||Running|
|27||32||98||Paul Menard||Ford||Schrock Cabinetry / Menards||82/0||398||Running|
|28||37||7||Robby Gordon||Toyota||BAMVIP.com / James Otto – Whitney Duncan||79/0||398||Running|
|29||39||26||David Stremme||Ford||Air National Guard||76/0||398||Running|
|30||29||78||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Furniture Row Companies||73/0||398||Running|
|31||40||37||David Gilliland||Ford||Taco Bell||70/0||398||Running|
|32||25||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||National Guard / Amp Energy||67/0||397||Running|
|33||31||71||Bobby Labonte||Chevrolet||TRG Motorsports||64/0||397||Running|
|34||38||34||Travis Kvapil||Ford||Long John Silver's||61/0||396||Running|
|35||12||82||Scott Speed||Toyota||Red Bull||58/0||393||Running|
|36||27||77||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||Mobil 1||55/0||387||Accident|
|37||42||38||Kevin Conway *||Ford||Extenze||52/0||387||Running|
|38||24||19||Elliott Sadler||Ford||Reynolds Wrap||49/0||385||Running|
|39||41||46||Terry Cook *||Dodge||The Atlantic Company of America||46/0||92||Rear Gear|
|40||36||09||Mike Bliss||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction / GracewayPharmaceuticals||43/0||86||Brakes|
|41||34||132||Reed Sorenson||Toyota||Braun Racing||40/0||80||Overheating|
|42||43||164||Tony Raines||Toyota||Gunselman Motorsports||37/0||69||Vibration|
* Denotes Rookie