Kurt Busch wins delayed Michigan race

Kurt Busch scored his second win of the season and further increased his chances of making the Chase for the Nextel Cup by taking victory in the rain-delayed 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway

Kurt Busch wins delayed Michigan race

An estimated 40,000 fans out of the original 145,000 who bought tickets for Sunday stayed for an extra two nights to watch the race from the grandstands on Tuesday and see Busch take his 17th career win and his first at Michigan.

The race started under yellow flag conditions and had to be red flagged after nine laps and for 32 minutes due to heavy fog in Turn 3. Once it cleared, the race finally got underway on lap 12 and was completed without further weather-related interruptions.

Busch made the most out of the 44-hour delay; he took the lead from Matt Kenseth on lap 101 and dominated up front for 92 of the 203 laps of racing. He survived the pressure from Martin Truex Jr in a green-white-chequer finish to score maximum points and another 10-point bonus for the title-deciding Chase.

"It feels great to do it here in the backyard of the manufacturers for Dodge," said Busch. "This extra win will help pump us up once the Chase starts. But hey, we're not in it yet. We still gotta run hard.

"We gotta just stay grounded and focused on one race at a time. We now go to Bristol and it's going to be a tough one."

Busch has won almost every year at the half-mile oval at Bristol since his maiden victory there in 2002.

Truex Jr saved the day for Dale Earnhardt Inc with his second place, as their start driver sees the chance of making the Chase even more distant than a week ago.

Dale Earnhardt Jr himself finished a quiet 12th and has dropped another 63 points behind Busch's 12th place in the standings.

"We came in and pitted and had no clutch," said Truex, who had also been second in the June race at Michigan.

"After that last stop the car was real good but we just couldn't pit anymore and when the caution was out it worked out for us. The car was good, we just needed to get some track position."

The other DEI cars were hit by their recurrent engine problems. Mark Martin was running a DEI engine for the first time and was forced to return to the garage on lap 88, while Paul Menard was running an R07 unit for the third time, and for the third time also, it failed.

Jimmie Johnson gambled on taking only two tyres in his last stop and was able to move to third for the final part of the race. He led the race early on after overtaking teammate Jeff Gordon but did not have as much speed in the end to challenge for victory.

"I really thought we had the right strategy and took two tyres at the end," said Johnson. "But the tyre that Goodyear brought really recovered fast and the No 2 and the No 1 were able to maintain and run up there with those short runs that we had,"

Points leader and pole-sitter Jeff Gordon was running in the top five until lap 190, when he spun after being tapped from behind by a charging Matt Kenseth. While Kenseth went on to finish fourth, Gordon lost a lap in the incident and could only manage a 27th place finish.

"He just got loose up underneath me and was kind of like sliding up my groove" Kenseth said about the incident.

"It looks like he was real loose and I got out of the gas, we were both kind of up in the wall so I got back in the gas and pushed him down in the infield there. I just didn't have enough room out there and he just came up in the last minute."

Denny Hamlin rounded up the top five and continued his run of good finishes in a day where his teammate Tony Stewart was almost invisible after his victory at Watkins Glen. Despite that, the two- time Cup champion came home a solid 10th.

Dave Blaney scored a sixth place, his best result of the season thus far, and one which allows his team to jump inside the top-35 in the owner points standings, securing him a spot on the grid for next weekend at Bristol.

Juan Pablo Montoya recovered well in the first half of the race after dropping to last due to a spin on lap 15. He then struggled with a loose car later and went a lap down on the leader, dropping down the order to eventually finish 26th, just ahead of Jeff Gordon.

"We were lucky there," Montoya said about his spin. "They just came down and hit us and we spun. Luckily we didn't hit anything.

"Then we came back, we had a strong car, and one of the long runs we came in and changed tires and they were junk, I guess. The balance went and we lost over half a second a lap."

The Nextel Cup teams will be racing again on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

After that, only two races will remain to determine the drivers who make the Chase, although with Busch's win, the top-twelve in the standings looked rather safe for now.

Pos Driver Make Laps 1. Kurt Busch Dodge 203 2. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 203 3. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 203 4. Matt Kenseth Ford 203 5. Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 203 6. Dave Blaney Toyota 203 7. Carl Edwards Ford 203 8. Brian Vickers Toyota 203 9. Bobby Labonte Dodge 203 10. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 203 11. Casey Mears Chevrolet 203 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 203 13. Kyle Busch Chevrolet 203 14. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 203 15. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 203 16. Ryan Newman Dodge 203 17. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 203 18. David Ragan Ford 203 19. Greg Biffle Ford 203 20. Ward Burton Chevrolet 203 21. David Stremme Dodge 202 22. Jeff Green Chevrolet 202 23. David Reutimann Toyota 202 24. Robby Gordon Ford 202 25. JJ Yeley Chevrolet 202 26. Juan Montoya Dodge 202 27. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 202 28. David Gilliland Ford 202 29. Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 202 30. Jamie McMurray Ford 202 31. Kasey Kahne Dodge 201 32. Elliott Sadler Dodge 201 33. Ricky Rudd Ford 201 34. Tony Raines Chevrolet 201 35. Bill Elliott Ford 201 36. Scott Riggs Dodge 201 37. John Andretti Dodge 201 38. Reed Sorenson Dodge 200 39. Paul Menard Chevrolet 167 40. Michael Waltrip Toyota 135 41. Chad McCumbee Dodge 134 42. Mark Martin Chevrolet 101 43. Joe Nemechek Dodge 92 
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