Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kurt Busch claims first road-course victory at Toyota Save Mart 350

SONOMA, Calif. — Kurt Busch checked a number of things off his personal to-do list Sunday with his victory in the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway:

• He won for the first time on a road course in Sprint Cup.

• He ended a 38-race winless streak that dated to the 2010 Coca-Cola 600.

• And, he beat runnerup Jeff Gordon, who apologized to several drivers for his rough racing here last year but pointedly did not apologize to Busch, who felt slighted by the driver who wrecked him last year.

"To win a road-course race and to beat him, he's one of the best and always will be," Busch said. "To get a road-course race is a big check mark in my career."

Busch dominated, leading 76 of the 110 laps, while operating on a pit strategy that required only two fuel stops over the 1.99-mile course in Northern California wine country. After starting 11th, Busch had the lead by Lap 13 and clearly had the best car in a race that featured several dust-ups.

The most dramatic was between Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers, who tangled twice. Vickers put Stewart into a pile of tires late in retribution for a spin caused by Stewart.

"I probably had it coming, because I dumped him earlier, but I dumped him because he was blocking," Stewart said.

Tempers flared across the garage. Juan Pablo Montoya was mad at Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne was mad at Montoya, Joey Logano was mad at Robby Gordon and Denny Hamlin was mad at AJ Allmendinger.

Gordon stopped by Victory Lane to congratulate Busch on his 23rd career win but there was no apology coming. Gordon said he felt Busch had run him off the track earlier in the race last year.

"He's done things to me I didn't get apology for," Gordon said. "It's just the kind of relationship I have with Kurt. I see no reason to apologize."

Sunday was a marked turn for Busch, who unloaded on his team over the radio at Richmond in 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 Keselowski, who won at Kansas this month.

Busch, despite three consecutive poles, was winless but inching closer, with finishes of fourth, ninth, second and 11th.

"They definitely have turned things around," said Carl Edwards, who kept his points lead with a third-place finish.

Protecting the car, Busch said, was his primary goal: "The car would allow me to do everything on an A level."

That included getting past what happened last year.

"I wanted to get that revenge of a win over those guys," Busch said. "To beat Jeff Gordon on a day like today makes it that much sweeter."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Kurt Busch claims first road-course victory at Toyota Save Mart 350 06/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.