Worth The Wait For Busch

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Kurt Busch waited two extra days but didn't mind as he picked up his second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win of the season in Tuesday's rain-delayed 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

After rain washed out the race both Sunday and Monday, NASCAR held it on Tuesday, marking the first time the Cup Series had raced on that day since Richard Petty's win in the 1978 Firecracker 400 at Daytona.

But Busch didn't care what day of the week it was, driving his Penske Racing Miller Lite Dodge to his second win in three races, after dominating at Pocono on August 5th.

He was so strong all day, he easily held off Martin Truex, Jr. in a green-white-checkered finish, which added three laps to the scheduled 200 lap affair, to score his third career win for car owner Roger Penske.

Greg Biffle spun with just two laps remaining to send the race into overtime. But on the restart, Busch pulled away from Turex, Jr. and sped to a .495-second win.

In all Busch led four times for a total of 92 laps for his 17th career NEXTEL Cup win.

"It was tough," Busch said. "You know, I've got to thank the fans who stuck it out on a Tuesday to see a green-white-checker. We put it on for them here at the end, all the restarts, all of the guys on different strategy, it really was a tough, hard-fought win."

After breaking a 51-race winless drought two weeks ago at Pocono, Busch was able to find his way back to victory lane.

"This was a great win," said Busch. "It just backs up what we did at Pocono."

Truex, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

"I wanted it so bad I could taste it back there behind Kurt," Truex said. "I felt like last time we probably had the car to beat. This time we didn't. This time we had good strategy and a good car there at the end."

Kenseth was in the mix for the lead early, but faded after making contact with the wall.

"I hit the wall a little bit early, chasing Kurt around, and he got sideways up there and I kind of lost track of where I was at and bumped the fender in," said Kenseth of his early race encounter. "They’re just so aero-sensitive that we could never quite get that fixed and get that back. But, overall, we had a good car all day and I made that mistake and took us out of a chance to win.”

Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart completed the first ten finishers.

While Busch's win helped him solidify his place in the "Chase" standings and the 12th spot, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. suffered another disappointing blow to his hopes of making the playoffs.

After starting last in the field for a transmission problem, Earnhardt, Jr. charged his way back to the front but a mistake on pit road cost him precious time late in the race.

"I made a mistake on that pit stop late in the race and that probably cost us about five spots," said Earnhardt, who finished 12th Tuesday and trails Busch for the final transfer spot by 163 points. "But we ran good, came from the back, passing cars and racing everybody. That was fun."

Polesitter Jeff Gordon didn't have much fun Tuesday.

Although he ran upfront during much of the race, a problem with a rear window spoiler plagued the four-time champion, who wound up 27th after a late race tangle with Matt Kenseth sent him spinning into the infield grass.

"We were just very loose at the end," said Gordon, who was on old tires after not pitting for fresh rubber like many of the other frontrunners did on a late race caution.

The short week for the NEXTEL Cup Series will resume Saturday night when the circuit visits Bristol Motor Speedway for the Sharpie 500.

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