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Archive for Monday, July 25, 2005

Poised Busch bests grizzled veterans

Martin, Wallace can’t catch speedy driver during Nextel Cup’s Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono

July 25, 2005

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— Kurt Busch kept his poise with NASCAR's two grizzled veterans pushing hard down the stretch.

Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin were determined to leave Pocono for good as winners. Instead, Busch spoiled the going-away party and kept moving toward another Nextel Cup title.

Busch dominated at the beginning, surged back to the lead late and raced to his second victory of the season Sunday in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.

"To see the (No.) 2 and the 6 back there is reminiscent of old times," said Busch, who earned his 13th career victory. Wallace, who will retire at the end of the season, finished second in the No. 2 Dodge and fell just short of tying Bill Elliott's record of five career wins at Pocono.

Perhaps driving his last race at Pocono, Mark Martin finished third in the No. 6 Ford, and Carl Edwards followed his victory here in June with a fourth-place finish.

While Wallace is firm in his commitment to retire, Martin may have his farewell tour extended another year because Jack Roush is without a driver for the Ford next year.

"I still have my decision," Martin said. "I don't even like talking about it because I want to go truck racing next year. We are working on trucks."

Busch, the defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, led 110 of the first 150 laps on the 2.5-mile triangle and kept his fifth-place spot in the points standings with six races left to decide the 10 drivers who will race for the title. All drivers within 400 points of the lead also are eligible, though no driver outside the top 10 meets that requirement.

Bumpy win for Hornish

West Allis, Wis. - Sam Hornish Jr. raced like he was driving a stock car, putting his teammate into the wall and touching tires with at least two other drivers before wrapping up a hard-earned victory in the A.J. Foyt 225.

"Everybody's fighting for that quarter-inch of room on this track, and, sometimes, you don't get it," Hornish said. "That's just short-track racing."

Hornish had to pass Dario Franchitti twice in the waning laps at the Milwaukee Mile before pulling away for his second victory of the season and extending his own Indy Racing League career-victory record to 14. The two-time IRL champion led 123 of the 225 laps on the flat, one-mile oval. He dominated early, but slipped back on a slippery track before rallying at the end.

There were several crashes, including one by Danica Patrick, who came away uninjured. She wound up 19th.

During the caution period after Patrick's teammate Buddy Rice crashed on lap 167, Andretti Green Racing chose to keep Franchitti and Tony Kanaan on the track while the rest of the leaders pitted.

It appeared the strategy might work for Franchitti, when Hornish touched wheels with Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves. The bump sent the Brazilian driver into the wall and brought out another fuel-saving caution flag on lap 186.

Hornish restarted fourth when the green flag waved again on lap 196, but he quickly passed series points leader Dan Wheldon for third place, chased down and passed Kanaan for second on lap 201 and bore down on Franchitti.

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