Kurt Busch wins at Atlanta

Kurt Busch fended off Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya to claim his first win of the season in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta

Kurt Busch wins at Atlanta

The Penske driver, along with Richard Petty's Kasey Kahne, were dominant throughout the race, alternating the lead between them for most of the afternoon. However, Busch's pit crew was key in putting him up front when it counted, while Kahne's stops were not as quick - and neither was his pace on short runs.

This boosted Busch, who reclaimed the lead front Kahne following four-tyre stops from the leaders under the eighth caution of the day with 34 laps to go. As the green flag waved Earnhardt Ganassi's Montoya emerged as the main challenger to Busch and after moving up to second he continuously closed on the leading #2 Dodge.

The Colombian seemed set to arrive on the rear bumper of Busch for a thrilling final two laps, but the yellow flag brought that to an end as Brad Keselowski's car flipped over on the front stretch following contact with Carl Edwards, as the Roush Fenway racer apparently got payback from a previous incident with the Penske driver.

Keselowski came out unscathed from his battered car, while Edwards was parked by NASCAR and called to give his account of the incident to officials.

The race resumed with a first attempt at a green-white-chequered finish that was hampered by an incident triggered by contact between Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer, with at least another five cars getting caught up in the wreckage, right before the white flag was about to wave for the leaders.

Busch and Montoya had already charged back up front from fourth and fifth on the restart, after three other cars had jumped them in the final stop by taking two new tyres only.

On the final restart, Montoya seemed to spin his tyres under power, allowing Busch to get the jump on him. The Colombian eventually dropped back to fourth place while Busch had to watch out for Roush Fenway's Kenseth, who followed him across the finish line in the end.

Montoya was third ahead of Kahne, who led the most laps, while Paul Menard's two-tyre gamble in the end paid dividends as he held on to fifth at the flag, followed by his team-mate AJ Allmendinger, as three RPM cars finished in the top six.

Points leader Kevin Harvick struggled for the first half of the race but the right set-up changes and strategy calls allowed him to score his fourth top ten finish in as many races this year, despite his Richard Childress Racing squad not looking anywhere near as strong as in the past three weeks.

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson ran a solid race but missed his mark in one of his final stops and then made contact with Stewart Haas' Ryan Newman, damaging the right-front fender of his car and causing an extra stop for repairs near the end. Despite that he was the best among the Hendrick Motorsports cars in 12th as all his team-mates suffered with tyre-related issues.

Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Kurt Busch Dodge 341 2. Matt Kenseth Ford 341 3. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 341 4. Kasey Kahne Ford 341 5. Paul Menard Ford 341 6. AJ Allmendinger Ford 341 7. Brian Vickers Toyota 341 8. Greg Biffle Ford 341 9. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 341 10. Scott Speed Toyota 341 11. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 341 12. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 341 13. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 341 14. Regan Smith Chevrolet 341 15. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 341 16. Bill Elliott Ford 341 17. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 341 18. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 341 19. Elliott Sadler Ford 341 20. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 341 21. Denny Hamlin Toyota 341 22. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 341 23. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 341 24. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 341 25. Kyle Busch Toyota 341 26. David Gilliland Ford 341 27. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 341 28. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 340 29. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 340 30. Travis Kvapil Ford 339 31. Kevin Conway Ford 334 32. Boris Said Ford 333 33. Mark Martin Chevrolet 331 34. Max Papis Toyota 329 35. Joey Logano Toyota 323 36. Brad Keselowski Dodge 322 37. David Ragan Ford 211 38. Joe Nemechek Toyota 175 39. Carl Edwards Ford 170 40. David Reutimann Toyota 167 41. Dave Blaney Toyota 48 42. Michael McDowell Toyota 37 43. Robby Gordon Toyota 3 
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Earnhardt Jr claims Atlanta Cup pole

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