Pedley: Busch, Martin Opt To Do It The Right Way At Bristol
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
It was lesson night at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. Kyle Busch showed Mark Martin how to win in the Sharpie 500, and Martin showed Busch how to lose.
And both drivers and the 160,000 fans in the stands came away grateful for those lessons.
Too bad such a large portion of the drivers behind Busch and Martin had succumbed to Bristolis Knuckleheaditis over the course of the first 498 laps of the race.
Busch’s victory was the second at Bristol this season and his fourth overall in 2009. And it came at a great – perhaps Chase-saving – time for him.
It moved him from 15th to 13th in points with just two races to go until the start of the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and he left Bristol 34 points out of 12th place, a position that is held by Matt Kenseth.
And it came with Martin inches away from his rear bumper – but not touching his rear bumper.
“Mark Martin, what a class act,” said Busch. “He deserved to win this race and I’m sorry he came home second. I know how he feels. I drove as hard as I could and he had a chance. He raced me clean. We didn’t have the best car tonight, but we had a car capable enough of doing it if I could drive it hard enough. I gave it everything I had. This is pretty crazy. We wanted to win here so long.”
Martin’s second-place finish moved him from 12th to 10th in points.
He was asked after the race if he was tempted to punt Busch out of the way on the final laps.
“If you watched that race real close, I didn’t need to use the bumper,” Martin said. “Kyle gave me all the room in the world to make that pass, and I didn’t make it. That’s one thing.
“If somebody abused me enough to really, really irritate me, I might use that bumper. But Kyle gave me all the room in the world. It’s a good thing because I was over my head when I went in that corner and I got loose. If he’d have been crowding me, we both would have went up to the wall. I’m really grateful for that.
“He raced me like a good sport. When he’s behind me, I will be comfortable that he will race me the same way that I raced him. I can’t say how he might race someone else on the racetrack because they may have different history. But I feel really, really good at night when I go to bed. I have managed to win a race or two, and none of ’em did I have to pull something dirty.”
Busch had taken the lead with just under 70 laps to go. He then held it through a series of late cautions and restarts. The final of those restarts came after a red flag shut the track down for the cleanup of one of many wrecks during the night.
Marcos Ambrose finished third and Greg Biffle was fourth.
Taking the biggest hit of the evening was Clint Bowyer. And that hit came courtesy of his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick.
Bowyer would also be punted again later in the race, that time by rookie Joey Logano, who finished 15 laps off the pace.
Bowyer, who had been running near the front most of the evening, dropped from 14th to 15th in points and is 112 out of 12th place.
But that’s Bristol for you. We love it for its action when we should be agonizing over it because of the damage it does to the contention that Sprint Cup drivers are the best in the world.
The best should be able to/want to stay off the bumper of the car in front of them.
You know, like the two guys up front.
For Busch, it ended a string of four races in which he had failed to finish in the top 12. It was his first victory since Richmond earlier in the year.
It also put his human side on display.
“It’s fun when you’re able to race around the guys that respect you and that you respect back. So Mark (Martin) is one of those guys,” Busch said. “I mean, you know, I go up to Mark all the time and I talk to him all the time. I look up to him a lot. He wasn’t the guy that I always looked up to when I was growing up at a kid. But since I’ve gotten here, he’s been one of the closest drivers I’ve been able to spend time with – him along with Jeff Burton.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgOne Comment