Kyle Busch wins at Dover
|By Diego Mejia||Sunday, May 16th 2010, 22:29 GMT|
Kyle Busch claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season at Dover International Speedway after the duel for victory ended with a penalty for Jimmie Johnson a few laps from the end.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver and the reigning champion looked set to battle for the win in the closing stages of the race, but Johnson, who led the most laps during the race, was penalised for going too fast on pit exit following his last stop and while fighting for the lead on pit road with Busch.
Once Johnson served his penalty under green flag conditions, Busch was left with a healthy lead over Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton and he cruised to the finish line during the last 33 laps to take his second win of the weekend, as he had dominated on Saturday in the Nationwide Series event.
Busch came actually close to winning the three races of the weekend at the track known as the 'Monster Mile', as he ran out of fuel while fighting for victory in the Trucks race on Friday after leading 172 of the 204 laps.
Johnson dominated most of Sunday's race, only looking vulnerable to Busch on restarts, when on cold tyres the Hendrick driver struggled for a few laps before being able to bring his tyres up to temperature. Every time Busch passed him on a restart, Johnson would be able to repass him for the lead, setting the scene for what looked to be an exciting finish.
However the reigning champion's mistake in the pits left victory on a plate for the 25-year-old, who had to battle communication issues after his radio apparently came unplugged early in the race, plus a loose car in most of the long green-flag runs, as only five cautions came out during the race.
"We came out right there at the right point," said Busch. "I think we were going to beat [Johnson], but I don't know. The #48 was really, really fast today.
"We were so loose. I guess it's a good thing I can drive a loose race car because I had to hang on to it. We weren't the best in the beginning. We worked on it at the end. About lap 250 or 260 we really started coming on."
A disappointed Johnson would only be able to finish 16th and a lap down to the winner, taking the blame for the penalty that probably cost him his fourth victory of the year. The Hendrick driver was up front during 225 of the 400 laps scheduled and was in the lead when he pitted for the final time.
"I had been leaving the pit box really good each time and there are some cues there from the spotter and we need to be able to calculate where we need to check up to be doing the right thing," said Johnson, who was caught at 40.09 mph in segment six of eight on pit road, the absolute limit being 39.99 mph. "Evidently I just got out of the pits much better than I did any other time.
"As I got to my mark I heard my spotter and saw my [dashboard] lights and I was conservative because I didn't want to make any mistakes in the end and I saw Kyle was going to beat me so I just kind of gave up that final segment off pit road and I got nailed."
Burton came one place closer to winning for the first time this year, taking his best result of the season with a distant second place. He ran most of the race in the top five but never showed enough the threaten the leading duo, finishing half a second ahead of Matt Kenseth, who made a two-tyre stop to gain track position early on and was able to remain near the front after that.
The race was actually one of the best for Roush Fenway Racing this year, with Biffle finishing sixth and Edwards eighth, although it was Joe Gibbs Racing that had the best day with Denny Hamlin in fourth and Joey Logano rounding out the top ten, besides Busch's victory. Gibbs now outweighs Hendrick Motorsports with five victories to three so far this season.
Kevin Harvick had a solid day finishing seventh from 30th on the grid, which was enough for him to remain at the top of the drivers' standings, where Busch now trails him by 69 points.
AJ Allmendinger looked strong early on, almost matching Johnson for pace at one point, but a missing lug nut caused a delayed pitstop and then a suspected rear tyre problem forced the Richard Petty Motorsports driver to make an unscheduled stop which dropped him a lap down. He was able to get it back but would lose it once again in the end, finishing 14th.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing had a troubled afternoon with both drivers ending their string of good runs with suspension issues. Both Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray were forced to go to the garage due to broken track bar mounts, which failed both within a few laps of each other.
Casey Mears, who filled in for a recovering Brian Vickers, did enough to finish the race right ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Scott Speed, taking 22nd place.
Next weekend the Sprint Cup Series teams will compete in the non-points All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Kyle Busch Toyota 400 2. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 400 3. Matt Kenseth Ford 400 4. Denny Hamlin Toyota 400 5. David Reutimann Toyota 400 6. Greg Biffle Ford 400 7. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 400 8. Carl Edwards Ford 400 9. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 400 10. Joey Logano Toyota 400 11. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 400 12. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 400 13. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 400 14. AJ Allmendinger Ford 399 15. Mark Martin Chevrolet 399 16. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 399 17. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 399 18. Brad Keselowski Dodge 398 19. Kurt Busch Dodge 398 20. Kasey Kahne Ford 398 21. Paul Menard Ford 398 22. Casey Mears Toyota 397 23. Scott Speed Toyota 396 24. Regan Smith Chevrolet 396 25. David Gilliland Ford 395 26. David Ragan Ford 395 27. David Stremme Ford 395 28. Elliott Sadler Ford 394 29. Travis Kvapil Ford 393 30. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 390 31. Robby Gordon Toyota 386 32. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 354 33. Kevin Conway Ford 351 34. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 312 35. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 283 36. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 222 37. JJ Yeley Dodge 127 38. Joe Nemechek Toyota 67 39. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 65 40. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 36 41. Dave Blaney Toyota 36 42. Michael McDowell Toyota 33 43. Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 29