Kurt Busch survived the usual bumping and banging Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, including the tap he put on Jimmy Spencer, to earn his first Winston Cup victory.
Busch gambled on pit strategy and bumped Spencer out of his way to win the Food City 500.
"There's nothing better than the first one," said Busch, who got out of his car at the finish line, grabbed the checkered flag from an official and flew it out his window while on his victory lap.
"It's just unreal. You never expect to win at Bristol, for your first one anyhow."
Busch opted not to follow leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the pits after the 13th caution, inheriting the lead with 85 laps to go. He briefly gave it up to Spencer, who moved in on Busch's bumper and muscled his way into the lead coming off Turn 4 on Lap 444.
But in Turn 2 of the next lap, Busch fought back and bumped his way back into the lead. Spencer nearly lost control of his car on the contact, but saved it, though he lost a lot of ground.
"When racing for victories or top fives, you have to respect the leaders," Spencer said. "When you don't, it will come back to haunt you. I didn't do that to him and he shouldn't have done it to me."
Busch, using a similar pit strategy to the one Elliott Sadler followed to win here a year ago, went 157 laps on his final set of tires. He led when the final yellow came out on Lap 478. That allowed Spencer to get on Busch's rear bumper, but he never caught him.
Busch, who gave Roush Racing its second win of the season, said he was getting back at Spencer for a similar incident.
"Last year at Phoenix, he dumped us flat out. He was a lapped car, and we were racing for eighth place," Busch said. "That was in my mind."
Spencer finished second, Ricky Rudd was third followed by Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte.
Matt Kenseth, who gave Roush its first victory this year, was sixth. Kenseth moved to second in the standings, 99 points behind Sterling Marlin, who was 19th.
On the high banks of Bristol's .533-mile bullring, the bumping and banging begins as soon as the race does, and doesn't always end when the race does. This time tempers flared in a pit road confrontation between Earnhardt Jr. and Robby Gordon.
The two banged into each other several times on the track. After the race, as the cars were pulling onto pit road, Earnhardt Jr. made contact with Gordon as he grazed by him. Gordon responded by spinning him out.
"He was a moving chicane," Earnhardt said. "He wouldn't get out of the way. A lap down, racing the leader with 10 laps to go. That's why it takes three or four times to get into the Winston Cup series because he doesn't pay attention and don't know what he's doing."
Gordon said the bad feelings started early when Earnhardt bumped him, costing him 20 places.
"I didn't quite understand why he did that so early in the race," Gordon said. "And I didn't understand why after the race, he ran into me, too."