Busch beats Martin to Bristol win

Kyle Busch fended off Mark Martin in a close finish to claim his fourth win of the year on Saturday night at Bristol

Busch beats Martin to Bristol win

Martin had been the dominant force throughout the night until Jimmie Johnson passed him on lap 317 of the 500 scheduled. Later, the reigning champion ran into trouble with a loose right-rear wheel when the field pitted for the last time under caution on lap 423, being forced to pit again and giving Martin another chance to jump up front.

Michael Waltrip stayed out to lead the race while Ryan Newman jumped up to second by virtue of taking only two new tyres. With a full new set of Goodyears, though, it was Busch who made the most of the outside lane on the restart to pass Martin and Newman and then grab the lead from Waltrip two laps later.

After that, four more caution periods provided further opportunities for Martin to attack Busch, but instead the 24-year-old seemed to profit from them all, opening a gap to the veteran who had to take every green flag after that from the inside lane, which proved to be a disadvantage on restarts all night long.

On the final four-lap sprint, Martin was able to stay clear in second place, and he took every opportunity to dive his nose on the inside of Busch's Toyota. The Joe Gibbs driver raced him clean, gave him room and in the end succeeded at keeping his momentum on the outside lane to win for the second time at Bristol this year.

"What a class act Mark Martin is, and he deserved to win this race," said Busch. "I'm sorry he came home in second."

"I drove as hard as I could, and he had a chance, and he could've done it, but he raced me clean. We didn't have the best car tonight, but we had a car capable enough of winning it."

This victory allows Busch to move up from 15th to 13th in the standing with just two races left before the Chase begins. Now, only 34 points separate him from Matt Kenseth's 12th place in the championship with Atlanta and Richmond coming - both tracks where Busch has won in the past.

Martin couldn't just get it done to celebrate his 1000th NASCAR start with a victory, but his second place was a big boost in the standings as he was able to jump up two places to tenth in the points battle, although still only 60 points ahead of 13th place.

"That was very exciting," Martin said about the closing laps of the race. "What can I say? Kyle gave me room and I didn't get the pass done. We were both racing hard for it and that inside was tough.

"I took my shot at it but just about slid up into him and wiped him out but I'm glad he gave me plenty of room there. I did everything I could, I wanted to get him but just couldn't pull it off."

Australian Marcos Ambrose impressed by finishing third purely on speed, claiming his best result on an oval at one of NASCAR's toughest venues. He could not quite get in the battle for victory in the end, but proved once again that he can be a contender beyond the road-course events, where he has always excelled.

Greg Biffle led the first portion of the race, then dropped down in the order with handling issues but recovered to finish fourth. Denny Hamlin was fifth at the flag, also recovering from a poor qualifying that left him nearly at the back of the grid and also from a puncture that put him a lap down early in the race.

Newman's tyre gamble on his final stop allowed him to finish sixth ahead of Kurt Busch, who charged back from a multi-car incident ignited by contact between Sam Hornish and Casey Mears, who spun him around causing damage to the front end of his Dodge.

Johnson also recovered from the wheel problem on the final stop to take eighth ahead of team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr, who was running fifth on the final restart but got shuffled back in the closing laps. Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-ten but still dropped one position in the drivers standing.

Points leader Tony Stewart had a race to forget, being hampered by radio communication issues and electrical problems. Jeff Gordon also had a rough day - but just like Stewart and Johnson, he is already locked in the Chase.

Of those still trying to secure a place in the play-off, the biggest losers were Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne. Montoya ran a strong race until a flat tyre forced him to pit under green and drop two laps down with just 35 to go.

The Colombian ran easily in the top-ten form most of the race and was running third when he started to struggle with the deflating right rear Goodyear, which cost him two places in the standings.

Meanwhile Kahne ran in the midfield all day and his 28th place finish dropped him three positions in the points, down to eleventh.

Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing's only card to make this year's Chase this year, was involved in two separate incidents and has all but lost any chance of making it into the play-off this season.

Pos Driver Make Laps 1. Kyle Busch Toyota 500 2. Mark Martin Chevrolet 500 3. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 500 4. Greg Biffle Ford 500 5. Denny Hamlin Toyota 500 6. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 500 7. Kurt Busch Dodge 500 8. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 500 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 500 10. Matt Kenseth Ford 500 11. Jamie McMurray Ford 500 12. Brian Vickers Toyota 500 13. Casey Mears Chevrolet 500 14. David Ragan Ford 500 15. Scott Speed Toyota 500 16. Carl Edwards Ford 500 17. David Reutimann Toyota 500 18. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 500 19. Reed Sorenson Dodge 500 20. David Stremme Dodge 500 21. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 500 22. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 500 23. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 499 24. Paul Menard Ford 498 25. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 498 26. Elliott Sadler Dodge 498 27. Regan Smith Chevrolet 498 28. Kasey Kahne Dodge 497 29. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 496 30. John Andretti Chevrolet 494 31. Michael Waltrip Toyota 490 32. Robby Gordon Toyota 490 33. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 489 34. Joey Logano Toyota 484 35. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 472 36. Bobby Labonte Ford 461 37. AJ Allmendinger Dodge 452 38. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 438 39. David Gilliland Chevrolet 354 40. Terry Labonte Toyota 244 41. Joe Nemechek Toyota 48 42. Tony Raines Dodge 27 43. Dave Blaney Toyota 8 
Ragan wins Bristol Nationwide
Previous article

Ragan wins Bristol Nationwide

Next article

Ambrose takes 'wet' Montreal pole

Ambrose takes 'wet' Montreal pole
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

Feb 11, 2021