Busch beat out Jimmie Johnson, who led the most laps all race
By: Al Pearce on March 30, 2014
The comeback is not complete – after all, there are a lot more races to win, more trophies to hoist – but at least Kurt Busch appears on his way. His surprising victory on Sunday afternoon at chilly and brisk Martinsville Speedway was his first this yr, his second at Martinsville and the 25th of his Sprint Cup profession.
A lot more importantly, it was his first since October of 2011 at Dover (Del.) Global Speedway in the No. 2 Miller-backed Dodge for Roger Penske. Despite some nicely-chronicled public missteps, the elder of the 2 Las Vegas racing brothers seemed established as a NASCAR star. That was before he lost almost everything 6 weeks later on at Homestead, where his boorish habits on nationwide tv expense him his trip and sullied his reputation for the 2nd time.
In 2005, the yr after winning the Cup for Roush-Fenway Racing, he was fired late in the season for a checkpoint incident with local law enforcement in Phoenix. He had 6 winning years with Penske until his televised rant at Homestead. He invested much of 2012 with Phoenix Racing (a effectively-intended but underfunded staff) and Furniture Row Racing. He did properly adequate for the single-auto, Colorado-primarily based FRR to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. Even so, he left following 2013 to grow to be the 4th driver at Stewart-Haas Racing.
His victory on Sunday afternoon came far faster than anybody most likely anticipated. SHR co-proprietor Gene Haas designed the No. 41 team from scratch, exclusively for Busch, whose teammates are former 3-time champion and crew co-proprietor Tony Stewart, extended-time established star Kevin Harvick and the omnipresent Danica Patrick. Some NASCAR watchers anticipated that lineup of star electrical power, attitude and ego to lead to an early implosion. As an alternative, Harvick won at Phoenix in his 2nd SHR commence and now Busch has won in his sixth SHR commence.
“A win like nowadays is a great stage forward,” he explained. “But I really do not want it to camouflage any of the work we even now have to do to make our car more powerful and to be a lot more aggressive. But don’t consider for a single second that I’m not going to enjoy this 1. We’re not going to rest on this win (simply because) we have a lengthy way to go. Consistency is what we’ll focus on now that is the battle we have in front of us. I’m up for this challenge, specifically when you have all this weight lifted on your shoulders with a win so early.”
The Sprint Cup garage is filled with people who acknowledge Busch’s massive talent and just as swiftly query his judgment and maturity. He, also, looks to realize that his difficulties with Jack Roush and Roger Penske have scarred him, and he may well require many years to overcome his past issues. He can be completely charming at a Sunday morning meet-and-greet with sponsors, then go out 2 hours later on and behave like an absolute fool on the race track.
“You know, it was a approach,” he mentioned of the journey from Penske and Phoenix and Furnishings Row to Stewart-Haas. “It’s wonderful how numerous factors have to fall into place (to win a NASCAR race), so I never doubted myself. I never gave up. I stored trying to discover small stones to uncover and rocks to overturn to try out to make teams better. I was trying to locate the correct combo, making an attempt to discover the combo that (crew chief) Daniel Knost located these days. Stewart Haas Racing is that blend for me. It’s wonderful to win 6 races into the season with a brand new staff and have that feeling of a aggressive organization around you.”
As for the race itself: Busch led only 3 instances for 23 of the 500 laps, including the last 11. Jimmie Johnson led eleven occasions for 296 laps, but fell just brief for the second consecutive weekend. (He dominated at Car Club Speedway prior to a late-race tire problem price him a near-certain victory). Towards the end he led laps 348-449, then trailed Clint Bowyer for laps 450-460. He led yet again 461-472, yielded to Busch for 473-482 and took the lead once more for lap 483-489. Busch received by at 490 and led the rest of the way.
“I’m disappointed, but there wasn’t something else I could do,” said Johnson, an 8-time Martinsville winner mentioned. “I received back by him (at 483) and considered I had manage of the race. But he stayed in my mirror and discovered a way back by me. I want I could have won, but I came up a small quick. It wasn’t for a lack of hard work.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third in a Chevrolet, then Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose in Fords, Matt Kenseth in a Toyota, Kevin Harvick in a Chevy, Aric Almirola in a Ford, Clint Bowyer in a Toyota and Paul Menard in a Chevrolet. Pole-winner Kyle Busch completed 14th and second-quickest qualifier Denny Hamlin – who flat-out guaranteed a victory on Friday afternoon – didn’t lead a lap and finished 19th.
A handful of potential contenders crashed out or suffered mechanical ills. Brad Keselowski misplaced thirty laps with front-end repairs following crashing with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch on pit street at lap forty. Soon after qualifying 10th, Danica Patrick immediately slipped backward by way of the area. She was lapped early and typically en route to finishing 31st, 6 laps behind.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, Alex Bowman, Ryan Truex, Joe Nemechek, rookie Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards had been among drivers who spun or wrecked. The race was slowed 14 times for 92 caution laps, comparatively calm for Martinsville. Twelve drivers swapped the lead a track-record 33 occasions and Kurt Busch’s average winning pace was 72.176 mph.
one. (22) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 500 laps, 115.8 rating, 47 factors.
2. (4) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500, 140.9, 44.
3. (26) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 500, 116.8, 42.
4. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 500, 121.2, 41.
5. (17) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 500, 110.2, forty.
6. (6) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 500, 95.8, 39.
7. (18) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 500, 98.9, 38.
7 (twenty) Aric Almirola, Ford, 500, 93.8, 36.
9. (12) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 500, 108.5, 36.
10. (21) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 500, 83.3, 34.
11. (15) A J Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 500, 90, 34.
twelve. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 500, 82, 32.
13. (8) Carl Edwards, Ford, 500, 98.1, 31.
14. (one) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500, 79.2, 31.
15. (34) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500, 72, 29.
16. (13) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 500, 90.9, 28.
17. (6) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 500, 72.4, 27.
18. (11) Greg Biffle, Ford, 500, 82.6, 27.
19. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500, 81, 25.
twenty. (16) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500, 78.5, 24.
21. (31) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 500, 60.6, 23.
22. (27) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500, 70.4, 22.
23. (25) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 500, 57.one, 21.
24. (23) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 500, 63.4, 20.
25. (36) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 500, 56.2, .
26. (39) David Gilliland, Ford, 499, 49.5, 18.
27. (28) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 498, 62.6, 17.
28. (24) David Ragan, Ford, 497, 50.6, sixteen.
29. (35) Cole Whitt, Toyota, 497, 38.4, 15.
thirty. (38) Ryan Truex, Toyota, 496, 43.9, 14.
31. (40) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 495, 38.5, 13.
32. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 494, 52.4, 12.
33. (29) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 493, 35.8, twelve.
34. (42) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 492, 36.1, 8.
35. (33) Josh Smart, Chevrolet, 492, 34.7, 9.
36. (19) Alex Bowman, Toyota, 488, 46.3, 7
37. (32) Michael McDowell, Ford, brakes, 474, 35.9, 6.
38. (14) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 469, 46.6, 6.
39. (37) David Stremme, Chevrolet, 440, 29.1, 5.
forty. (30) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 409, 49.8, 4.
41. (41) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 408, 25.1, 3.
42. (9) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 396, 80.9, 2.
43. (43) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, accident, 310, 26.4, .
Indicator up to have the Autoweek Daily Racing report, Racing Weekend Wrap-Up, Every day Drive and Breaking Information delivered right to your inbox.