Kurt Busch Back in Victory Lane
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 30, 2014 | 4:48 P.M. EST
The win was Busch’s 25th career Sprint Cup Series victory. He became the sixth different winner in the season’s first six races. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kurt Busch ended an 83-race winless streak when he held off Jimmie Johnson to take the checkered flag in Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Busch came back from an earlier race incident with Brad Keselowski to notch his first win as a member of Stewart-Haas Racing.
Busch charged by Johnson for the top spot 29 laps from the finish on what turned out to be the race’s final restart only to watch the No. 48 Lowe’s 10 laps later. Busch was able to make another charge as the laps wound down and with seven circuits remaining made the winning pass.
"I didn't know if we'd be able to do it, you know? The 48 car is king here, him or the 24," Busch said.
"I've been on this journey for a while and every time you come to Martinsville, you just kind of draw a line through it like there's no way I'll be able to challenge those Hendrick guys or be up in the top 10. This Stewart-Hass team gave me a car to do it."
The win was Busch’s 25th career Sprint Cup Series victory. He became the sixth different winner in the season’s first six races.
Busch was not interested in continuing his battle with Keselowski, which began when the two made contact on pit road earlier in the race and continued with more contact between the duo on track.
"We won. We're not worried about any of that nonsense right now. We are a winner. We're not guaranteed in the Chase but we have a win and we're moving forward,” said Busch.
Keselowski, who finished 38th with his severely damaged car, was furious with Busch about the pit road accident.
“I started to check up and I just barely got in the back of him and Kurt just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us,” said Keselowski. “I tell you what, I’m about tired of his recklessness.”
Johnson was forced to settle for second after his late race battle with Busch.
"Man, we were so on edge slipping and sliding," Johnson. "I think the lack of security in our own car kept us from feeling more racy and putting a bumper to someone or really getting inside someone aggressively."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top five.
Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard completed the first 10 finishers.
Earnhardt Jr. is the series point leader by nine over Matt Kenseth with Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Johnson the top five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Texas Motor Speedway next Sunday afternoon.
How Busch Won: Busch was able to recover from a pit road incident with Brad Keselowski and some subsequent beating and banging with the Team Penske driver to get back into contention. He ran down Johnson and made the pass for the lead 11 laps from the finish and held on to take the checkered flag.
What Else Happened: The race included a record 33 lead changes in an afternoon that featured tight racing, contact on track as well as on pit road, drama and high emotions. Johnson, who was trying for a record ninth Martinsville win on the 30th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports’ first career Sprint Cup win in 1984, came up one position short after leading a race-high 296 laps.
Who Else had a Good Day: Logano scored only his third top-10 finish in 11 career Martinsville starts….Ambrose had his second top 10 of the season and best career Martinsville finish…..Kenseth had his fourth top 10 of 2014.
Who had a Bad Day: Bowyer had worked his way around Johnson for the lead 50 laps from the finish. But a bad pit stop by the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing crew dropped him to 10th and out of contention for the win….Jamie McMurray finished 42nd after contact from Earnhardt Jr. early in the race sent him into the wall…..Keselowski wound up 38th with a severely damaged car from his incident with Busch….Danica Patrick couldn’t back up her best non-restrictor plate qualifying effort and finished 32nd.
Quote of the Day: “We’re done.” – Kurt Busch to his team after being involved in a pit road incident with Brad Keselowski.
Other Notables: Harvick rebounded from mechanical issues around the mid-race mark for his top-10 finish……AJ Allmendinger followed his top-10 performance last week at Auto Club Speedway with an 11th-place effort on Sunday….Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose game Richard Petty Motorsports a pair of drivers in the top 10 for the second time in three weeks.