Busch Win Crashed filled Sharpie
Photo by Gettys
Photo by Gettys

Posted Aug 24, 2003


When pre-race introductions took place at Bristol motor speedway, Kurt Bush was booed. They were angry with the release of Kurt Bush's in car audio from Michigan Speedway, which revealed that Bush was intentionally trying to knock hated rival Jimmy Spencer into the wall. At the end of the race Spencer punched Bush and was suspended for one race and put on probation for the rest of the season. Kurt Bush was also placed on probation.

. Kurt Bush was also placed on probation. So with all the
negatives of the week Bush added a positive, winning the Sharpie 500 at
Bristol Motor Speedway.

"I want to do anything I can to help this team and get behind it," Busch
said. "This is definitely my biggest win, but I don't know whether to enjoy
it or what. I love this place. I am sorry what happened last week, but we're
in victory lane now and I love it. I love this place. It was so sweet to
come here after all that was going on this week."

Late in the race Bush made contact with Sterling Marlin heading into turn 3
spinning Marlin out. In victory lane Bush went on to apologize to Marling.

NASCAR warned Busch through his team, telling him not to make contact with
anyone else. Busch kept it clean when he passed Kevin Harvick for the lead
on Lap 380 and stayed on the point the rest of the way on a record-tying
night of metal-crunching short-track racing.

Bristol wouldn't be Bristol without bumping and banging. There was plenty of
that tonight. There was a record tying 20 caution laps in a classic Saturday
night Short track racing at its best.

Harvick held off Jamie McMurray for third and had some tough words for the
race winner afterward. "I hate losing to Rubberhead," Harvick said, using a
nickname for Busch referring to RubberMaid, one of his sponsors. "He's
learning what being a butthole will get you when he goes to victory lane and
people boo."

The dominant driver early in the race was Jeff Gordon. Gordon would pull
away from the field in a matter of laps. Gordon, who won the pole for the
race would began to fade halfway in the race but had his share of bumping
and banging as well.

Ryan Newman was second on Lap 75 when he got tapped from behind by Jeff
Gordon as the cars came off Turn 4. Newman spun down the front stretch but
didn't hit the wall. He came in to pit, though, and was 32nd on the restart.

Gordon would gain the lead back on lap 83. On lap 89 a hard crash accrued
when Michael Waltrip was squeezed in by teammate Jeff Green and slammed into
the wall. He would then come crashing down and Rusty Wallace slammed into the
rear of Michael's car. Michael was fine but Rusty Wallace was transferred to
a local hospital under his own power.

Gordon and Harvick stayed up front until Lap 160 when point’s leader Matt
Kenseth had a tire going flat and slowed coming off Turn 2. By the time
traffic reached Turn 3, Casey Mears checked up and got run into from behind,
starting a wreck in which Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte were also among
those whose cars had damage.

Harvick got off pit road ahead of Mike Skinner and Ricky Craven with Gordon
fourth on the restart on Lap 168. Newman spun again coming off Turn 4 on Lap
177 when Ted Musgrave hit him from behind. Musgrave, in turn, got spun
by Jeff Burton's car and several others disappeared into the plume of tire
smoke. Once again, though, Newman kept his car off the wall and kept going.

When the green flew again on Lap 187, Skinner got to the inside of Harvick
and chased him up the track in turns 1 and 2 the next time around. Skinner
got the lead and Gordon came to second, and on Lap 193 Gordon passed Skinner
in Turn 1 as Green got spun into the wall in turns 3 and 4 to bring out the
eighth caution.

Gordon pulled away slightly as Dale Earnhardt Jr. maneuvered passed Ricky
Rudd for 2nd. Earnhardt was a fast car much of the early part of the race
but the car faded and he finished 9th. Gordon gave up the advantage to pit
after a Lap 222 crash involving Craven and Ted Musgrave in Turn 3.

Sterling Marlin stayed on the track in his Dodge and took over the lead
ahead of Dale Jarrett, who also didn't stop. Gordon would also make a pit
stop on the next caution, too, dropping him well back in the running order
as the race moved past the halfway mark.

Mark Martin passed Marlin for the lead going into Turn 3 after the restart
on Lap 263. Newman, whose Dodge had fought an overheating problem as well as
the two spins in the first half of the race, had hung around to that point
and moved into second on Lap 298 just before debris on the track brought out
yet another yellow. Marlin pitted this time, allowing Kurt Busch to move
into third.

After Elliott Sadler crashed at the end of the backstretch on Lap 307,
bringing out the 14th caution, Martin gave up the lead to make a pit stop
and Newman took over the top spot with Busch right behind him.

That's where things stood on Lap 338 when Bobby Labonte spun off Turn 4 to
cause another caution and bring almost all of the leaders to pit road.
Marlin and Mears, teammates at Chip Ganassi Racing, stayed out and took over
the top two spots with Gordon, who got fuel only, coming out third.

Martin, meanwhile, had to make a second stop under that yellow for having
his catch can stuck in the valve. That dumped him back in the traffic and
just after the next restart he got turned into the outside wall on the
front stretch when Johnny Sauter's spinning car caught the No. 6 Ford.

"He has been a weapon all night," Martin said. "But he's still out there. I
really believe we could have won in this car."

Marlin was the leader on the restart on Lap 354, but by Lap 366 Harvick had
passed Gordon, Mears and Marlin to reclaim the lead in his No. 29 Chevrolet.
Marlin then slammed the wall betweens turns 1 and 2 on Lap 373 after getting
hit from behind by Busch as the two raced for second behind Harvick.

Busch, booed lustily in prerace ceremonies at the end of a
controversy-filled week following his altercation with Jimmy Spencer after
last week's race at Michigan, was warned through his crew chief not to make
contact with any other cars for the rest of the night under threat of
penalty.

On Lap 380, Busch sped to the inside of Harvick off Turn 4 and took over the
lead for the first time on the evening. He was still leading on Lap 421 when
Gordon's car slowed off Turn 4 with a flat right-front tire and Marlin's
Dodge dropped a piece of metal on the track to bring out a yellow.

Busch, Harvick and the rest of the cars running in the top eight stayed out.
Dale Jarrett gave up ninth and came in, as did those lead lap cars behind
him. Gordon came in too, of course, and got four tires. On Lap 443, however,
he checked up coming off Turn 4 behind Ken Schrader, who had a tire going
down, and got hit from behind by Kenseth. That brought out another yellow,
sending Gordon to the garage and bringing Kenseth in for four tires on his
Ford.

When Tony Raines spun in Turn 2 on Lap 460, the incident brought out the
20th caution of the night - tying the all-time record for cautions in a
Winston Cup race set here twice before in April races in 1989 and 1997.

In the race for the championship a smart call by Matt Kenseth's crew chief
Robby Reiser allowed him to gain points on Dale Earnhardt Jr. The call for
tires gave Matt a 4th place finish while Dale Jr. had to settle for 9th.


Related Stories
Bristol under the lights makes for exciting racing
 -by DriverInsider.com  Aug 23, 2003
Michael Waltrip wins the Busch race at Bristol
 -by DriverInsider.com  Aug 22, 2003
Jeff Gordon gets pole after rain delay
 -by DriverInsider.com  Aug 22, 2003

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