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Kyle Busch turns dominance into NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Busch has dominated Bristol Motor Speedway before, only to be denied a trip to Victory Lane.

Not this time.

Busch led 378 of 502 laps on Sunday to win the Food City 500. It was redemption for Busch, who lost his power steering while leading last spring and in August was bumped from the front by Carl Edwards after leading 415 laps.

And Busch was well on his way to victory in Saturday's Nationwide series race, leading 157 laps before his crew let a tire slip away on the final pit stop, incurring a penalty. He finished sixth.

But this time his Joe Gibbs Racing team got him out front ahead of teammate Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson on the final pit stop.

"I told the ladies to, 'Man up, get the job done on the last stop,' which they did," Busch said. "I'm proud of them for doing that. When the time mattered most, they got the job done.

"This place probably owes me a few," he said. "But you can never ask a racetrack to pay you back. You just have to just keep working on it."

Busch got through one final challenge after rookie Joey Logano, the third driver for the Gibbs team, lost an engine on Lap 493. That set up a green-white-checkered finish with Jimmie Johnson third and Jeff Gordon fourth. But no spots changed hands at the top of the leaderboard after the final restart.

Busch has won a race in one of NASCAR's top three series every weekend this season. He was untouchable in his Toyota on Sunday, even to Hamlin, who followed him across the finish line.

"Man, it's great to get a 1-2," Hamlin said of the Gibbs team's dominant day.

Hamlin has had his own heartbreak at Bristol — he led 98 laps last spring but a fuel pickup problem cost him a likely victory. He finished third in August.

Three-time defending series champion Johnson was third in a Chevrolet to tie his career-best Bristol finish, in 2004. Johnson had devoted a lot of time to figuring out why he has struggled at Bristol, and the homework with crew chief Chad Knaus clearly paid off.

"What a day for us. I wish we had 500 more laps to go," he said. "I have to thank Chad and the engineering staff for sitting me down a couple weeks ago to look at this racetrack and what I need here. I made my wish list and they gave me what I needed."

Gordon, Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, was fourth and retained his points lead.

Kasey Kahne was fifth in a Dodge followed by pole-sitter Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, defending race winner Jeff Burton and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Australian Marcos Ambrose, in the spotlight after his gas man chased a tire across pit road two weeks ago at Atlanta, finished 10th for his second career top-10 and first on an oval.

A Busch brother has won the past three races. Kyle Busch won at Las Vegas this month, and Kurt followed it with a win at Atlanta. Kurt Busch, a five-time Bristol winner, finished 11th on Sunday.

Many of Kyle Busch's team members on Sunday were on his crew Saturday in the Nationwide race. After he finished that one, he showed his displeasure by refusing to drive his car back to his team truck after the race.

His crew had to retrieve it from Turn 3. But if there were any lingering hard feelings, no one noticed.

"They appreciate what I do behind the wheel. I appreciate what they do on pit road. That's a given in any team," Busch said.

Kyle Busch turns dominance into NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Bristol 03/22/09 [Last modified: Sunday, March 22, 2009 10:00pm]
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