Kyle Busch Wins Cup Race; Johnson Loses It
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kyle Busch capitalized on a pit-road screw-up by Jimmie Johnson with 38 laps to go and went on to win Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
The victory was the second of the weekend for Busch, who also won the Nationwide Series race at Dover on Saturday. It was his second victory of the season in Cup as he won two races ago at Richmond.
Johnson had the lead and Busch was second when they headed nose-to-tail into the pits for the final green-flag stop of the day. But Busch, who pitted closer to the pit exit, and Johnson were side-by-side when they passed the pit-exit line.
However, Busch put a full lap on the four-time champion when officials called Johnson back into the pits for a drive-through penalty for speeding during the stop.
“We came out at the right point,” Busch said. “I think we were going to beat him but the 48 (Johnson) was fast today.”
Johnson, who led the most laps, said, “It was going to be a dogfight” had he not been penalized.
Busch said he thought that maybe he got into Johnson’s head on the all-deciding pit stop.
“I think that the race off pit road there at the end really won it for us,” Busch said, “being able to nick ahead of the 48 there and kind of coax him into speeding a little bit. I don’t know if that happened or not, but I’m going to say it did.”
Jeff Burton finished second Sunday. It was his best finish of the season.
“It was a good run,” Burton said. “Obviously we didn’t think we were as good as the 48 most of the day. We had one run where I thought we were a little better than he was, but overall he was a touch better. I thought we were about even with the 18, a little better, and then he seemed to get a little better there late in the race.
“We had a good run, and we just need to keep knocking on the door. We’ll get us some.”
Matt Kenseth was third. He was a little less positive afterward.
“It was a struggle out there,” Kenseth said. “We had to work hard to get where we were. We made really good adjustments in the pits, really good pit calls to get the position we needed. Track position was really important today and I am glad the race finished under green. We were able to get the long runs in there and get the green flag pit stops. That was fun to race that way and have a race end that way. Overall it was a great day for us. We got the best we could out of it at the end.”
Denny Hamlin, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, was fourth.
Points leader Kevin Harvick finished seventh. Busch moved from third to second in points – 69 behind Harvick – with the victory while Johnson fell two places to fourth.
The speeding penalty, he said, was the result of coming out of the box too quickly as he was busted in the first segment from his stall.
“We must have launched much better” out of the stall than previously in the race, Johnson, who said the plan on the stop was to play it conservatively, said.
The victory was the 18th in the series for Busch.
Had he not had a fuel pickup problem on Friday in the Camping World Truck Series race, he may have pulled off the triple as he dominated that event.
Busch admitted that his car’s speed was sporatic at times on Sunday.
“We fought through the beginning part of the race and through the middle part of the race just being too loose, and about lap 260 we finally got it together and got enough rear grip in the car where we started working on some speed and tried to get that going on the beginning part of the runs, and it worked for us,” Busch said.
“We had things fall our way today, and fortunately we had a great race car that we unloaded with off the track, and that’s a testament to (crew chief) Dave Rogers and his team and what all they’ve done over the off‑season and through the past few weeks to prepare ourselves for where we’re at today. Really good work by everybody.”
Busch said he had told people before the race that he was going to end up being mad on Sunday because he thought he should have won the truck race and that would have made history.
“If you miss out on the first one, the last one seems to be a little easier,” he said. “If you get the first two, the last one seems to be the hardest. It’s inevitable. You know, it is what it is. It’s not going to hurt my feelings too bad to go home Monday or to go to bed tonight knowing that I lost Friday. I’m going to think more about today and what this Sprint Cup Championship means more than what winning in one of my trucks does.
“I want to win anything I can get in, but if I’ve got to give one up that way, I’d rather give it up Friday than Sunday.”No Comment