Kurt Busch Gives Penske A Victory In The 600
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kurt Busch completed the Charlotte Motor Speedway Sprint Cup Series double Sunday evening when he won the Coca-Cola 600.
The victory came a week and a day after Busch had won the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte. The victory also had to brighten the day – make that, night – of team-owner Roger Penske, who had a highly disappointing time at Indianaplis Motor Speedway earlier in the day.
“Roger, this one’s for you,” Busch said in Victory Lane.
Busch, who led the most laps, jumped to the lead shortly after a restart with 19 laps to go. He quickly moved out to a comfortable lead over Jamie McMurray and was able to hold him off to get the victory.
McMurray’s team owner, Chip Ganassi, saw one of his drivers – Dario Franchitti – win the Indy 500 some five hours earier.
Two of Penske’s drivers started from the front row at Indy but could not get “The Captain” his 16th victory in the 500. Those two drivers – Will Power and Helio Castroneves – wound up eighth and ninth respectively.
“Can’t take anything away from him,” Ganassi said of McMurray. “My old buddy Penske beat me tonight.”
The victory was the second of the season for Busch. He said he was glad it came at a time when it could mean just a bit more for his owner.
“Roger is an amazing individual,” Busch said. “I’m happy to race for him and bring him home wins, especially on a day like today when he didn’t get it at Indy and we beat a Ganassi car
today to win it. That’s something special. I keep saying the word ’special’ because the 600 is really, really something that I think of the greats that have this style trophy sitting in their case. My team helped me do that today. To beat a Ganassi car, McMurray, those guys kept us honest, he was in the mix. If I could say anything, I would say Ganassi should give that guy a raise and pay that man.”
For McMurray, it was the continuation of a terrific comeback story which began in Daytona in February.
“I’m still excited from where I was last year and not knowing what was going to happen to get to be here right now with Bass Pro Shops and McDonald’s being a part of our team,” he said. “I’m still really happy. I think we had the best car tonight. Certainly on the long runs, we had the best car toward the end and that is all you can ask for. You can’t win every time you have a fast car and the No. 2 bunch put themselves in position and they were able to win. But, I’m really happy with our finish.”
Kyle Busch, who won the Camping World Truck Series race and the Nationwide Series race earlier in the weekend, finished third in the 600. That moved him to within 29 points of series leader Kevin Harvick, who finished 11th Sunday.
Mark Martin finished fourth and David Reutimann, last year’s winner, was fifth.
Jimmie Johnson’s struggles continued.
On lap 167, the defending and four-time champion scraped the wall and shot toward the bottom of the track. Below him, Denny Hamlin was forced into the grass where he sustained front-end damage.
“It looked like he was struggling right there. He was running the high line and I saw him kind of get loose in the corner,” Hamlin said. “Then on corner exit he was back steering, trying to catch up to it. When he hit the fence, I thought he was just going to stay up there, but he didn’t. We were coming 30 miles-per-hour faster and he pulled down right in the middle of the race track. I was either going to clobber him in the left rear or have to go through the grass. It just ruined our day. It’s tough because I really felt like we had a car that could win today. We never really got to show the speed. We were just waiting and biding our time.”
Johnson kept rolling – until lap 273. At that point, Johnson lost his car and slammed it into the wall and his shot at a good finish was over.
The poor finish is the third of the last five races for Johnson as he DNF’d in Talladega and in Darlington.
There was some action in the pits after the race as Jeff Burton confronted Kyle Busch, who had cut one of Burton’s tire down when he hit him late in the race.
Burton got into Busch’s face.
“I have no idea what transpired there,” said Busch. “What I remember on the restart – the 33 car [Clint Bowyer] ducked low to my inside. It forced me to the middle. I didn’t get a lot of room. I was pinching the 33 as tight as I could, trying not to wreck him. I did the best I could. I don’t know if I touched or got into him [Burton]. If I did anything wrong, I’d be more than happy to sit with Jeff Burton and talk about it.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment