Kyle Busch Completes Bristol Triple
Reid Spencer - SportingNews.com
Aug 23, 2010
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Check off a major accomplishment from Kyle Busch's bucket list.
Busch fended off strong challenges from David Reutimann and Jamie
McMurray to win Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway and complete his unprecedented sweep of three NASCAR national touring events at the same track in the same week.
On Lap 429 of 500, Busch nosed past Reutimann after an intense 15-lap battle and pulled away to a Sprint Cup victory that fit quite nicely with his win Wednesday in the Camping World Truck Series and his triumph Friday in the Nationwide Series.
"Oh, Dave, thank you, guys," Busch radioed to crew chief Dave Rogers moments before crossing the finish line. "I can't believe it -- swept the weekend at Bristol!"
The accomplishment awed even those on his team. "We're in the presence of greatness," spotter Eddie D'Hondt radioed as he guided Busch toward the white flag.
Rogers echoed that sentiment after the race, during an evening that began with Brad Keselowski announcing "Kyle Busch is an ass" during driver introductions, a reference to an on-track altercation between the drivers the night before.
"Kyle Busch is a special driver, in my opinion, the most talented driver on the circuit," Rogers said. "I told him before the race there's a lot of fans out there booing him, and some wise guy saying some things that were somewhat unprofessional, but it's an absolute honor to work with Kyle Busch, and I couldn't be happier to do so."
The victory was Busch's fourth at the .533-mile track, his third of the season and the 19th of his career. McMurray came home third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne. Jeff Gordon finished 11th and became the second driver to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
It was a statement race for Bowyer, who separated himself from Mark Martin in the battle for the final berth in the Chase. Bowyer overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to finish in the top five, while Martin struggled to a 23rd-place result in a car that didn't handle to his liking.
With two races left before the Chase field is set Sept. 11 at Richmond, Bowyer, 12th in the standings, leads McMurray, who supplanted Martin in 13th place, by 100 points. Martin is 14th, 101 points back.
McMurray passed Busch for the lead on Lap 389 but surrendered it when both drivers came to the pits under green on Lap 400.
"It's pretty remarkable what he's been able to do this weekend, especially with owning his own truck team -- I know that's been fairly stressful for him," McMurray said. "And, obviously, the Nationwide, it's -- I don't know -- it's amazing how many races they can win in that car.
"But then to be able to come out (Saturday night) and win again, he obviously has a really good feel for this place, and he just had a really good weekend. He's been close to doing that before, so that's really impressive what Kyle has been able to do."
The two drivers who are guaranteed at least a tie for top seeding when the Chase begins -- Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin -- had major issues in Saturday's race.
After leading 175 laps, Johnson was fighting for position on Lap 262 when contact from Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet sent Johnson's Chevy spinning down the backstretch and into the Turn 3 wall. The polesitter lost 66 laps during repairs and finished 35th.
"Dude, I left him room," Johnson radioed after the wreck. "What the hell?"
Hamlin snapped a drive shaft near the midpoint of the race and lost 26 laps in the garage while his crew replaced it. Hamlin finished 34th. The only consolation for Johnson and Hamlin is each has a series-best five victories, good for 50 bonus points to start the Chase.
Notes: Series leader Kevin Harvick finished 14th, but he's still 279 pints ahead of Gordon in second place. Carl Edwards started second and ran in the top five for the first half of the race, but loose lug nuts on a Lap 255 pit stop forced him back to pit road. He restarted 27th on Lap 262 and spent the rest of the race clawing his way back to 12th. Edwards nevertheless gained two positions to fourth in the standings. After his Chevy was rear-ended by Tony Raines on Lap 125, Tony Stewart suffered a succession of troubles and finished 27th, six laps down.
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