Busch gets first road win
By Jenna Fryer
SONOMA, Calif. ó It certainly seemed as if Kurt Buschís season was in serious trouble just two months ago, when poor performances led to an intense radio tirade against his entire Penske Racing organization.
What could have destroyed his race team has actually had the opposite effect.
Buschís impressive turnaround continued Sunday with a dominating run at Infineon Raceway, where he earned his first career road course victory and his first win of the season.
ěWeíve been on a great run these last few weeks,î Busch said. ěTo get a road course win, itís a big check mark on my list. Itís just really neat to bring home that ëW.íî
Busch led a race-high 76 laps and beat Jeff Gordon by almost 4 seconds for his first win of the season. Itís a marked turn for Busch, who unraveled over his team radio at Richmond in early May because of how poorly his Dodge had been running.
The rant led to behind-the-scenes changes at Penske Racing that have sparked both Busch and teammate Brad Keselowski, who won at Kansas earlier this month. Busch, despite three consecutive poles, was winless but inching closer and closer.
It finally came on a road course, of all places. Busch was winless in 10 career starts at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen, the only two road courses on the Sprint Cup circuit. And Busch helped Keselowski finish 10th with advice and a tour of the track on Friday.
ěItís a good feeling to know that the two teams are working as closely together as they ever have,î Busch said. ěKnowing that Brad is definitely maturing, seeing him bust off a top 10 at a road course is great. We went around the race track, I pointed out some of the apex points, exit points, shifting points. He absorbed it like a sponge.
ěThatís what it takes as a veteran of the team to help the kid thatís coming up through and to have his information help us. Thatís exactly whatís helped both teams get stronger.î
Beating Gordon made it extra special for Busch, who was one of many drivers wrecked by Gordon here last year. It was fresh in his memory when he arrived, and one of the first things Busch said was Gordon had apologized to every driver he wrecked last year but Busch.
ěIt was a definite boost at the end of the day, to see him finish second,î Busch smiled.
Gordon congratulated Busch in Victory Lane, but said ěI still didnít apologize.î
Carl Edwards, who decided Friday to skip Saturdayís Nationwide Series race at Road America, finished third. He was scheduled to miss both of Saturdayís practice sessions so he could be in Wisconsin for the race.
ěIt was very tough to watch the race from Road America, but I think staying was the right decision,î Edwards said. ěIt worked out. It was a good call.î
Sundayís race featured several on-track flare-ups, most notably Brian Vickersí payback spin of Tony Stewart.
Stewart knocked Vickers out of his way early in the race, and Vickers gave it right back later. The bump sent Stewartís car spinning into a stack of tires, and the rear of his Chevrolet came to a rest on top of the stack.
Stewart didnít seem angry over the retaliation, but he wasnít apologetic, either.
ěI probably had it coming, because I dumped him earlier, but I dumped him because he was blocking,î Stewart said.
While Stewart was calm, tempers were flaring across the rest of the garage. Juan Pablo Montoya was mad at Keselowski, Kasey Kahne was mad at Montoya, Joey Logano was mad at Robby Gordon and Denny Hamlin was mad at AJ Allmendinger.
ě(Seventh) week in a row Iíve had a winning car and then Boom. We get Dingeríd,î Hamlin posted on Twitter immediately after the race.
Hamlin, who led 12 laps and was competitive with Busch, wound up 37th.
ěMan, it was nuts out there,î Jeff Gordon surmised.
Clint Bowyer finished fourth, Marcos Ambrose was fifth and pole-winner Logano was sixth. It was a huge turnaround for Logano, who used coaching from Max Papis to score his career-best road course finish. He also showed some mettle in intentionally moving Robby Gordon out of his way midway through the race.
ěHe drives like a moron every week,î Logano said. ěWe were a lot faster than him. I got outside of him one corner and he knocked in my fender. So I had enough of it. Iím not going to get pushed around; I donít care.î
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was seventh, and Martin Truex Jr. came back from an early spin to finish eighth.
Kevin Harvick and Keselowski rounded out the top 10.