Busch Drives to Five at Bristol
By: MRN Staff on March 20, 2011 | 4:19 P.M. EST
Busch celebrates his 20th career Sprint Cup win. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kyle Busch scored his fifth straight victory at Bristol Motor Speedway after he took the checkered flag in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City.
Busch outran Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson to the finish to score his second straight Bristol weekend sweep following up his Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup triumphs at the track last August.
"I love this place," said Busch. "It's just a lot of fun to race here and it obviously feels great when we have a run like we're on now coming here."
It was Busch’s fifth career Cup win at the .533-mile track, tying him with his older brother Kurt and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.
Busch was in the top spot on the day’s final restart with 37 laps to go and after a side-by-side battle with Edwards was able to pull away and score his first win of the 2011 season.
Despite the two making contact when racing for the lead at Bristol in the past including when Edwards used a “bump and run” for the win in the 2008 night race, the finish on Sunday was clean - for the most part.
“Carl tried to make it interesting,” Busch said. “Gave me a little bit of a shot there. Kept it straight somehow this year. Didn't have any fall-back from 2008.
“All in all, it was really good. Again, great job by (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) and the guys for working all last night and coming in early this morning and working on putting the car back together. I got in the fence a little bit yesterday. They had to massage on it a little bit. Appreciate their work and hard work this weekend.”
Edwards was pleased with his second-place finish but still disappointed he couldn’t mount a charge to the finish line.
“I thought we’d be better matched with him, but he took off, and I just couldn’t get back to him to race,” Edwards said. “My gut told me there was going to be another caution. If I had known that was the only shot I had, I might have raced a little harder.”
Defending race winner Johnson led a race high 164 laps but gave up the lead late in the race when he lost positions on pit road during the final stop of the race. With his third-place finish moved up five positions to seventh in the series standings.
“Certainly a solid performance for us,” said Johnson. “I felt like coming off pit road in fourth with only 40, 50 to go, the guys I was racing with, I knew it was going to be tough to get back to the front. I think we had a slip on the rear tire changer coming around the back of the car. Amazing, one little slip on pit road what it equals on the racetrack.”
Matt Kenseth and Paul Menard rounded out the top five.
“It was a struggle all day,” said Kenseth. “I’m thrilled with our finish. It’s the highest up we ran all day. We struggled between about a seventh or eighth place car in a best-case scenario to about a 20th-place car at times.”
Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman completed the first 10 finishers.
“We had another Top 10 which is great,” said Busch of the Penske Racing Dodge effort. “We’ll take that. It’s a point-leader type effort. We just want to get up there and try to win one of these things. We’ll keep pushing hard.”
There were no tire issues after Goodyear brought in a right side replacement in response to excessive wear seen during Friday’s practice sessions. Goodyear brought in 1,300 tires from a North Carolina warehouse Friday night. Although teams were only given one set to practice on Saturday, there were no reports of problems during Sunday’s race which saw NASCAR throw a competition caution on lap 50 to check wear.
There were incidents during the 500-lap grind with the biggest coming less than 65 laps from the finish when Kevin Harvick spun after getting tagged from behind by Mark Martin.
Harvick had gotten tangled up with Kasey Kahne and spun after getting hit by Martin and the chain reaction crash caught up Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, Trevor Bayne and others.
Kurt Busch, the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all four Sprint Cup races this season, leads the series standings by one over Edwards. Stewart, Newman and Menard round out the top five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for next Sunday’s Auto Club 400.