Kyle Busch Gets Sixth Win the Wild Way
By DUSTIN LONG
By Dustin Long
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
A night of bumper cars, a rare Jeff Gordon mistake and an official recount ended with a familiar sight:
Kyle Busch in Victory Lane.
Busch held off the pack in NASCAR’s version of overtime – only after NASCAR spent more than a couple of minutes consulting its timing and scoring – to win Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.
It’s Busch’s series-high sixth win .
Confusion abounded when Busch and second-place Carl Edwards ran side-by-side as a multi-car wreck in turn 1 behind them ended the race.
“I hate to lose it like that,” Edwards said .
Scoring monitors showed he’d won only because he beat Busch across the finish line as both drivers waited to find out who won. But replays showed Busch was ahead when the caution came out – freezing the field.
Busch took the lead on lap 156 when Gordon went high to block the pack and Busch went low to get past it.
“I screwed up,” Gordon radioed his team. “I should have stayed on the dang bottom.”
Gordon was tapped by Edwards on the final restart and finished 30th .
Jeff Burton, who entered the night second in the points, was involved in two incidents. The first time he spun and suffered no damage. The second time, Casey Mears’ out-of-control car knocked Burton into the wall.
“Didn’t get lucky that time,” Burton radioed his crew.
Burton’s woes dropped him to third behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the points heading into next weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.
The race began with questions of how long an ill Tony Stewart would last. He started the race with J.J. Yeley, 1 of 2 drivers who failed to qualify , standing in Stewart’s pits wearing one of his former teammate’s driving uniforms to relieve Stewart if needed.
Asked how he was doing before the start of the race, Stewart radioed his team: “We’re hanging in here.”
During a caution on lap 20, crew chief Greg Zipadelli asked Stewart if he thought he was going to make it. Stewart said no.
Stewart hung in the car until a crash between Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya brought out the caution shortly before the halfway mark in the 160-lap race.
“You got somebody to help me out in the seat?” Stewart radioed Zipadelli.
Stewart pitted on lap 72 and exited the car. After watching a bit of the race, he was carted away to the infield care center on lap 89 for treatment of what was called flu-like symptoms.
“Hats off for him doing what he did,” Zipadelli said.
Stewart last needed a relief driver in June 2006 at Dover when he was recovering from a shoulder injury. Ricky Rudd drove for Stewart then .
While Stewart settled down, Biffle seethed about his incident with Montoya. Biffle said his car wasn’t handling well and hoped for a break as they ran together.
“He was up beside me and I just pushed up there,” Biffle said. “There was nothing I could do. I figured he’d give me a little break there, but we’re racing for last position back there and he wants to go like heck every lap.”
Said Montoya: “When you’re beside someone, they’re supposed to give you room. He didn’t give me any room.”
Also having a bad night was Elliott Sadler. Just a few days after he became engaged, his right front tire went down and shot him up the track and slammed the wall on lap 109.
Fuel strategy, which helped give Kurt Busch a victory at New Hampshire last weekend, was not a factor Saturday .
David Gilliland ran into Ryan Newman and knocked him into the wall. Burton was hit from behind and spun, bringing out the caution on lap 125. That allowed everyone to pit and have enough fuel for the end. David Ragan exited the pits second after a two-tire stop but NASCAR penalized him because the catch can was released before the gas man was done fueling the car. Ragan came back to pit and put left side tires on and restarted 32nd.
Shortly after that, defending race winner Jamie McMurray was tapped from behind and slid down into the turn 1 grass area and back up toward the track but continued.
Denny Hamlin’s hopes for a win ended on lap 136 when he was hit from behind and cut down the track, hitting Newman, who was in his third incident of the night. The defending Daytona 500 winner was hit by someone each time.
For Dustin Long’s insight and analysis on what happened at Daytona, see his blog at PilotOnline .com
Originally published by BY DUSTIN LONG.
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