Bristol Three-Peat For Busch
March 28, 2004 | 4:21 P.M. EST
Busch held off Rusty Wallace to scored his third consecutive NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win at the high-banked, half-mile oval. The final shootout kept the overflow crowd of 180,000 on its feet as Busch jumped ahead of Wallace by two car lengths when the green flag flew after NASCAR stopped the race to clean up Dale Jarrett's debris when the No. 88 hit the wall on lap 494.
Busch outgunned Wallace as the duo raced through the first and second turns and then cruised to his fourth victory in the 25-year-old driver's last five Bristol starts.
"This one by far has got to be the sweetest because of what we had to overcome," Busch said. "Our engine had about 1,000 RPM less all day today ... and I just couldn't get the car to handle right. It's just unreal."
Busch angered his veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig when he decided not to pit for tires on lap 382 and ignoring Fennig's call.
"We only had 20 laps on our tires," Busch said. "I looked in the mirror and some guys didn't pit behind us, so I just ... stayed out. But all those guys were a lap down.
"It was a decision I was wrong on and I had to bail myself out on it."
"We didn't need those last cautions," said Wallace, who said he lost his power steering in the final laps. "Man, I wanted that bad. It was so close."
Busch now joins Darrell Waltrip, Fred Lorenzen and Cale Yarborough as the only drivers to win three straight Nextel Cup Series races at Bristol.
Kevin Harvick, Sterling Marlin and Matt Kenseth rounded out the Top 5.
Ken Schrader, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Michael Waltrip completed the first ten finishers.
The Nextel Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for next Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500.