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Kyle Busch Captures Richmond Victory

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 30 2011

Kyle Busch was smokin' hot Saturday night, winning the Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kyle Busch did his spring thing at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night.

Busch won the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 Sprint Cup race at RIR, giving him two straight victories in the spring race at the .75-mile oval.

It was his second victory of the season – he won at the Bristol short track – and it was in dominating fashion as he led 236 laps.

His margin of victory was 1.8 seconds over Denny Hamlin, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and who won the Nationwide Series race on Friday night.

“Pretty aweseome,” Busch said. “The race tonight was good one.”

Both JGR drivers had to overcome rapidly emptying fuel tanks to finish where they did.

“We were so equal, he was just a little bit better on restarts,” Hamlin said of he and Busch.

Finishing third was Kasey Kahne of Red Bull Racing.

Fourth was David Ragan while  his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Carl Edwards, was fifth.

“It was a fun night,” Ragan, who had his best finish of the season, said. “This is my favorite track to come to. Back in 2007 we finished third here and I have really liked this place since. The last couple of years we have really struggled but it was fun tonight to have a car that could pass some cars.

“We had a bad pit stop the first run and got behind a little bit. We had to fight and get the lucky dog. Our team never gave up. Our UPS Ford was fast. Fast cars can find their way to the front. We were fortunate not to have any yellows that last run because our car was really good on long runs. I am proud that we were able to get the finish that we needed.”

Edwards maintained his points lead with his finish and will head to Darlington next week nine points ahead of  five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

“We were hoping we were in the right position there,” Edwards said. “David Ragan took fuel, we had fuel. I thought those guys (Busch and Hamlin) were going to run out. I didn’t think they would be able to make it but that is the way it goes. We are still leading the points and we have stretched it out a little bit which is great. We will go to Darlington and race hard there for 500 miles. I think that feeling of fifth here tonight will be replaced with the points lead feeling in a little bit and that will feel better. I had a fun night though.”

Clint Bowyer was sixth while A.J. Allmendinger, Johnson , Tony Stewart and Brian

Denny Hamlin missed the Richmond sweep by one place Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Vickers rounded out the top 10.

Busch will head to Darlington third in points, 30 back.

Juan Pablo Montoya, still looking for his first oval-track victory in Cup, started the race from the pole and led the first 25 laps before being passed by Bowyer.

Montoya stayed near the front of the field until lap 107 when he was clipped from behind by Ryan Newman. The contact pushed Montoya’s car into the wall and his rear spoiler was knocked from its moorings.

Bowyer, who had finished second in the two previous races, held the lead for the next 18 laps but was then tracked down and passed by Kahne.

Kahne held the lead for 29 laps before he was passed by Hamlin.

Eight laps later, green-flag pitting started. Hamlin went in on lap 89 with a 2.6-second lead but when he came back out and pitting cycled through, Busch, had the lead and Hamlin was fourth.

Busch would hold the lead for the next 110 laps. He gave it up to Jeff Gordon on lap 200 of the 400-lap race – six laps after a restart – but would retake it four laps later.

Busch held the lead until a caution came out around lap 236 when Newman was spun by Montoya.

Coming out of the pits, Hamlin beat Busch to take the lead.

Kyle Busch passes polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya Saturday night at Richmond. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

But on the restart, Busch and Hamlin fought for the lead, allowing Martin Truex Jr. to come alongside three-wide. Truex, on the low side, eased into the lead.

Twelve laps later, another caution came out when Joey Logano spun.

Matt Kenseth opted not to pit and took the lead. Behind him was David Reutimann, who also did not pit.

Kenseth, on older tires, gave the lead back to Hamlin on lap 274.

On lap 288, after yet another caution, Busch passed Hamlin to get the lead back.

But four laps later, another caution flag waved. Busch and Hamlin and most of the others in the front of the field pitted. That handed to the lead to Edwards, who did not pit.

Also staying out was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who restarted second.

On the lap after the restart, Kenseth caused a wreck which took out Gordon, Paul Menard and Mark Martin.

“Knocked the wind out of me,” Gordon, who slammed the inside wall, which is unprotected by SAFER barriers. “I find the worst angles to hit walls.

“I wish they had a SAFER barrier there.”

Edwards pitted and gave up the lead to Jeff Burton.

Burton, on older tires, gave up the lead to Busch two lap after the race went green with 86 to go.

From there, it was all Busch.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 30 2011
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