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Martinsville NASCAR: Kurt Busch takes first win since 2011

Kurt Busch wins Martinsville NASCAR Sprint Cup race 2014

Kurt Busch recovered from an early spat with Brad Keselowski to take his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win in two and a half years at Martinsville.

Busch had written off his chances after tangling with Keselowski in pitlane in the opening stages.

A furious Keselowski rejoined 30 laps down and made repeated retaliatory contact with Busch when they encountered each other again.

As he vented over the radio about plans to confront Keselowski post-race, Busch looked far from a likely winner.

But the Stewart-Haas driver was able to regain his compose and then started moving steadily forwards in a race that featured a track record 33 lead changes, with the effects of Saturday's rain and Sunday's very cold temperatures leaving drivers struggling with set-ups and high tyre wear.

Jimmie Johnson repeatedly fought into the lead and took control of the second half of the event, heading 296 of the 500 laps.

Busch emerged as his main threat after the final restart. They twice swapped positions in an extremely intense, but clean, deciding battle, with Busch managing to take the chequered flag two tenths of a second ahead of the reigning champion's Hendrick Chevrolet.

The result was Busch's first Cup victory since Dover in late-2011. Shortly afterwards he lost his Penske seat after abusing a journalist, and spent the next two seasons with the underdog Phoenix and Furniture Row teams before earning another top-line chance with Stewart-Haas this year.

Dale Earnhardt Jr and Joey Logano could not quite join Busch and Johnson's lead battle in the end as they finished third and fourth.

Marcos Ambrose stirred the Richard Petty Motorsports squad in the week of team matriarch Lynda Petty's death by leading for a spell and finishing fifth, with team-mate Aric Almirola eighth behind Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

Clint Bowyer led into the final pitstops but a slow tyre change dropped him to ninth at the flag. Paul Menard completed the top 10.

A host of drivers seemed to have shots at victory at various junctures only for their cars' handling to fade as the track conditions changed.

Poleman Kyle Busch was among them, ending up only 14th, while Carl Edwards progressed up the order to become one of Johnson's main rivals in the closing stages before spinning and finishing 13th.

Results - 500 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                     Time/Gap
 1.  Kurt Busch          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet   3h38m38.000s
 2.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet            +0.263s
 3.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet            +1.424s
 4.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                   +1.841s
 5.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                    +2.131s
 6.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota              +2.553s
 7.  Kevin Harvick       Stewart-Haas Chevrolet        +3.087s
 8.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                    +3.475s
 9.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                +4.563s
10.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet           +5.339s
11.  AJ Allmendinger     JTG Daugherty Chevrolet       +6.119s
12.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet            +6.536s
13.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford             +7.057s
14.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota              +7.589s
15.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet           +9.333s
16.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota               +10.213s
17.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       +11.959s
18.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            +12.222s
19.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota             +12.411s
20.  Ryan Newman         Childress Chevrolet          +13.779s
21.  Martin Truex Jr     Furniture Row Chevrolet      +14.073s
22.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet           +15.732s
23.  Justin Allgaier     Hscott Chevrolet             +16.713s
24.  Casey Mears         Germain Chevrolet            +18.019s
25.  Landon Cassill      Hillman Chevrolet            +19.221s
26.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                 +1 lap
27.  Kyle Larson         Ganassi Chevrolet             +2 laps
28.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                +3 laps
29.  Cole Whitt          Swan Toyota                   +3 laps
30.  Ryan Truex          BK Toyota                     +4 laps
31.  Michael Annett      Baldwin Chevrolet             +5 laps
32.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet        +6 laps
33.  Travis Kvapil       FAS Lane Ford                 +7 laps
34.  Reed Sorenson       Baldwin Chevrolet             +8 laps
35.  Josh Wise           Parsons Ford                  +8 laps
36.  Alex Bowman         BK Toyota                    +12 laps
37.  Michael McDowell    Leavine Ford                 +26 laps*
38.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                  +31 laps
39.  David Stremme       Circle Sport Chevrolet       +60 laps
40.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford            +91 laps
41.  Parker Kligerman    Swan Toyota                  +92 laps
42.  Jamie McMurray      Ganassi Chevrolet           +104 laps

* Not running at finish


     Joe Nemechek        Robinson Toyota              310 laps
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