Kyle Busch conquers Michigan at last for Sprint Cup victory

Kyle Busch, who had finished second once and third once at Michigan, celebrates with the checkered flag after his victory.

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Kyle Busch, who had finished second once and third once at Michigan, celebrates with the checkered flag after his victory.

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kyle Busch finally won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson is going to have to wait a while longer.

Busch overtook Johnson with 30 laps remaining of a race scheduled for 200 laps then held him off during a green-white-checkered overtime finish to win Sunday's Pure Michigan 400.

With his series-high fourth win this year, Busch also became the first driver to clinch a berth in the 10-race, season-ending Chase for the Championship.

Busch is 10 points ahead of Johnson, who is still winless at Michigan International Speedway after 20 Cup starts.

"We've been trying so hard the last few times here," said Busch, who was tied for the points lead with Carl Edwards coming in. "Our (Joe Gibbs Racing) teammate (Denny Hamlin) has been able to do it, but unfortunately we haven't."

Michigan native Brad Keselowski was third at the 2-mile oval, running a third race with a broken left ankle. Mark Martin, Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, was fourth. Edwards struggled, finishing 36th and falling to fourth in points.

Johnson, who has won five straight Cup championships, has 54 career victories and led after a late restart but couldn't keep the fast-closing Busch at bay.

It appeared Johnson had gotten the break he needed when, just as he left the pits after a stop, a caution came out on Lap 169 when Dave Blaney's car slowed.

With other contenders using the caution for their pit stops, Johnson led the restart.

On those fresh tires and confident in the knowledge he had enough gas to finish, Johnson quickly shot ahead of his pursuers, including Busch, who was in fourth place in his 14th MIS start.

"Jimmie was gone in, like, three laps," Busch said. "I didn't think there was any way I was going to run him down."

But Busch's Toyota had performed well on long runs: "I felt comfortable running my pace, trying to get closer to him."

Busch tried to pick his spot and finally passed on Lap 188.

But Johnson got a lifeline on Lap 198 when Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray touched, sending Kurt Busch into the wall and forcing a caution and the overtime finish.

This time, Kyle Busch, choosing the outside lane, jumped ahead and stayed there.

"I wish I could have hung on," Johnson said. "On the last restart, I had a shot once again, but I couldn't make it happen on the bottom."

Busch, who tied older brother Kurt with his 23rd Cup victory, will enter the Chase as a favorite, though he never has won a title in NASCAR's top series.

"I feel like it's anybody's game right now," he said.

Johnson, who knows better than anyone what it takes to win a title, had advice for Busch.

"In order to win a championship in today's world, you've got to be rock solid," Johnson said. "We will all learn in time who that guy is this year."

NHRA: A first-time winner at age 58

BRAINERD, Minn. — Johnny Gray earned his first NHRA win, taking the Funny Car class at the Lucas Oil Nationals by defeating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the final.

The remarkable part?

"I'm 58 years old," Gray told NHRA.com. "So there's probably not a whole lot of time left. There are no words for it."

Minnesota native Greg Anderson won in Pro Stock, defeating Erica Enders in the final. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won their classes.

AMERICAN LE MANS: Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr won the closest finish in series history late Saturday, with Graf edging Guy Smith by 0.112 seconds at a four-hour race in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

Kyle Busch conquers Michigan at last for Sprint Cup victory 08/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 12:36am]

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