With the way his younger brother has won this
season, it's been kind of easy to look over Kurt Busch. For the most part this
season, he had been kind of in the middle of the pack. On Sunday however, the
former Cup champion was back on top. Kurt Busch won the Lenox Industrial Tools
301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was the second win of the season
for Penske Racing, who won the Daytona 500 with Ryan Newman.
Kurt Busch won the race with pit strategy and some help from the weather. Busch
was one of several cars who decided to stay out when a caution flew on Lap 271.
Several of the front running drivers made pit stops while some of the ones
behind, including Kurt, stayed out. Another caution flew on Lap 280. It was
during that caution when the rain, which had been threatening for much of the
day, finally started falling. The race was called after 284 laps.
There were seven cautions on the afternoon. It would be the last two that would
shape the results of the race. On Lap 272, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was entering pit
road when he got hit from behind by Jamie McMurray, taking them out of the
running for the win. David Ragan was also collected. Earnhardt, who was in the
top ten for much of the day and led 29 laps, finished 24th. The day's final
caution flew on Lap 280 for two incidents. Clint Bowyer and Sam Hornish Jr.
first spun out, then Juan Pablo Montoya spun out points leader Kyle Busch.
Bowyer finished 18th and is now 11th in the points. Kyle Busch finished 25th
and saw his points lead over Jeff Burton (who finished 12th) dwindle to 64.
The late race pit strategy made for a rather unusual finishing order at the
top. Michael Waltrip finished a season's best second place while J.J. Yeley
finished third. Rounding out the top five in fourth was Martin Truex Jr. with
Elliott Sadler in fifth. Reed Sorenson placed sixth while Casey Mears made it
back to back top tens, finishing seventh. Denny Hamlin (eighth), Jimmie Johnson
(ninth), and Bobby Labonte rounded out the top ten.
Besides Dale Earnhardt Jr., the guy who make a case for the tough luck award of
the day was Tony Stewart. He had one of the dominant cars of the day, leading a
race high 132 laps. But, he pitted on the sixth caution and wound up behind the
drivers who decided to stay out. As a result, he finished 13th and his winless
streak in the Sprint Cup Series is now at 31 races.
Other notable finishes were Jeff Gordon in 11th, Kevin Harvick in 14th, Ryan
Newman in 15th, Carl Edwards 17th, Matt Kenseth 18th, Greg Biffle 21st, and
Kasey Kahne (who had a couple of run-ins with rookie Aric Almirola) 30th.
July 4th Weekend is coming up this week. For NASCAR, that means Daytona. The
Fourth of July will feature the Nationwide Series Winn-Dixie 250. Satruday
night, it will be the Sprint Cup Series in the newly named Coke Zero 400. The
Truck Series will be off this weekend.