NASCAR: Busch goes past Johnson for win
By Rick Gano
CHICAGO ó Kyle Busch passed Jimmie Johnson after a restart on the next-to-last lap Saturday night to win his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.
Johnson had gone by Busch with 17 laps remaining in the LifeLock.com 400. But on the restart after the ninth caution, Busch went high on the track at Chicagoland Speedway and got by Johnson and held on for yet another victory.
Busch has 14 victories this season, spanning NASCAR’s three series. He won a Nationwide Series race on the same track Friday night.
And the 23-year-old Busch showed again why he leads the Sprint Cup points race with some great driving at the end.
“It didn’t matter which way he was going to go, I was going the opposite way,” Busch said of the pulsating finish.
“I pushed Jimmie Johnson to go and was like, `Let’s go man, here we go.’ I just had to go to the outside because he was going to block the bottom in Turn 1 and 2.”
But without the final yellow, Busch said he would have lost.
“Without that caution the race was over. Jimmy was going to lead us to the checkered flag,” Busch said.
Busch’s biggest problem came after the race when he got stuck in the mud as he tried to do a celebratory drive through the infield grass. That’s been plenty to feel good about all season.
“I don’t believe how good things are going. It’s just been a phenomenal year. Something just so special,” Busch said.
Johnson, the two-time defending Sprint Cup champion, took second and Kevin Harvick, who entered the race in 13th in points, was third.
“I thought I had such a good car, I thought I’d get away from him on the restart. He got a great start and was right there with me and just broke past that bumper plane through the center of one and two. And that was it,” Johnson said.
“If I could do it over again I’d play more defense on the restart.”
Busch, the pole sitter, led for the first 43 laps, fell off the pace and then got back in front on the 121st lap and held it for 80 more. He led for a total of 165 laps, Johnson was in front for 15.
Carl Edwards took the lead from Busch with 64 laps left. But Edwards’ lead was brief. He was forced to pit with a left front tire and moments later Busch was back in front.
Greg Biffle, who led for 43 laps, finished fourth. Tony Stewart, still looking for his first win this season, finished fifth. Stewart announced earlier this week that he would leave Joe Gibbs racing at the end of the season to become part owner and driver with a team that will be called Stewart-Haas Racing next season.
Saturday’s race was also the first Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland to start in the late evening.
Busch added 195 points to his total with the victory.
“It was a great car out front all night,” he said. “I knew when Jimmie got us there that the clean air was going to be it. Luckily we got that caution and got back by him.”