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Kyle Busch Wins Fourth Race Of The Season

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 22 2011

Kyle Busch leaps from his car after winning at Michigan on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kyle Busch passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead with 12 laps to go, survived a green/white/checkered restart and went on to win the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon.

The victory was No. 4 on the season for Busch and allowed him to pad his points lead.

It was his first victory at the 2-mile Michigan oval. And, it locked Busch into the Chase, which is now just three races away.

“It’s so awesome to win here at Michigan,” Busch, who said his car was nearly flawless, said.

Johnson, who was next to Busch on the final restart, finished second.

“I just didn’t have enough to get by him,” Johnson said of the green/white/checkered. “No excuses today.”

Brad Keselowski continued his impressive post-ankle break ways by finishing third.

Mark Martin was fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.

Greg Biffle, starting from the pole for the first time this season, blew out to a big lead early. Buy lap 10, that lead was by 1.5 seconds over Roush Fenway Racing teammate and fellow front-row starter, Matt Kenseth. Well over another second behind Kenseth was the field, led by Brad Keselowski.

The Biffle lead was at 2.1 seconds when the first caution flag waved – for debris – on lap 29.

Biffle and Kenseth restarted first and second on lap 35 and again began to pull away. Kenseth stayed with Biffle for a while but 10 laps into the run was a full second back.

But on lap 52, Kenseth moved past Biffle, who was having engine overheating problems, and into the lead.

A lap later, the caution flag waved for a second time.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Mark Martin, taking just two tires, beat Biffle and Kenseth out of the pits and restarted the race on lap 58 with the lead.

Biffle took the lead back from Martin coming out of the first turn. And eight laps later, Biffle’s lead was back over a full second over Martin. Two laps after that, it was over two seconds. The lead reached 3.5 seconds on lap 73.

Of the cars not being driven by Biffle, the one of Kyle Busch appeared best during the third run as he moved up to second past Martin on lap 80.

On lap 85, the first green flag pit stops began with Keselowski coming in first.

Biffle came in on lap 87.

When the pitting cycled through, Biffle had the lead back, but it was by just a car length over Busch.

On lap 93, Busch pulled ahead of Biffle in Turn 2, but Biffle got it back on the back straight.

On lap 95, Busch again pulled alongside Biffle and the two went door to door for a full lap before Biffle was able to edge back ahead.

On lap 98, Busch beat Biffle out of Turn 2 and was able to hold it to the start/finish line to get credit for the lap led.

From there, Busch began to pull away by about 10 car lengths.

On lap 102, debris on the back stretch brought out the third caution flag of the day. The running order of the top five was Busch, Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Martin, and Kenseth.

Kasey Kahne came out first after taking just two tires. Biffle came out 11th, the first car to take four tires. Between them were Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Martin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and David Ragan. Kyle Busch restarted 17th after taking four tires.

On the restart on lap 108, Kenseth quickly jumped to the lead.

On lap 114, Gordon beat Kenseth out of Turn 2 to take the lead. And it was Gordon’s turn to run away – by lap 120, his lead was 1.5 seconds over Kenseth.

Kenseth came roaring back and on lap 125, passed Gordon, who had a blocked radiator, for the lead between turns 1 and 2.

Gordon moved back to the lead two laps later after using Kenseth’s car to clear his grill of the debris.

On lap 136, green-flag stops began.

When the pitting cycled through, Kenseth had the lead, Gordon was was second and Kyle Busch third.

Gordon took the lead away from Kenseth on lap 144.

With 50 laps to go in the 200-lap race, Gordon had a .9 second lead over Kyle Busch and a 1.4-second lead over Kenseth.

Busch began closing and when Gordon got stuck behind the about-to-be lapped car of David Reutimann on lap 163, Busch pulled along side of Gordon but could not get past.

On lap 168, just as green flag stops were getting under way, a caution came out. Benefitting was Johnson, who was in the pits when the caution flew.

When the leaders pitted, Johnson had the lead. When the race restarted on lap 173, second was Kenseth while Gordon was third and Busch fourth.

In clean air, Johnson pulled away. For a while.

Busch began closing on Johnson and with 12 laps to go, made the past in Turn 1. From there, Busch began pulling away.

But with four to go, out came the caution.

That set up the GWC ending, in which, Busch had one of his usual flawless restarts.

Carl Edwards, tied with Kyle Busch for the points lead before the race, had a tough day. He dropped back in the field early and right after the first pit stops, was ordered to the garages by his team because of a sputtering engine.

Also having a tough day was Denny Hamlin, who started the day 12th in points. He whacked the wall and had to spend copious amounts of time in the garages.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 22 2011
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