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Archive for Monday, September 5, 2005

Kyle Busch wins first Nextel Cup race

Rookie driver takes checkered flag at California Speedway; Montoya first at F1 Italian Grand Prix

September 5, 2005

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— Kyle Busch raced to his first Nextel Cup victory Sunday night in a race that went to overtime and scrambled the bottom of the top 10 in the point standings with only one more event left before the start of the NASCAR playoff.

While the 20-year-old Busch, a rookie and the younger brother of reigning Cup champion Kurt Busch, took control late in the 254-lap race at California Speedway, 2003 series champ Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray jumped into the top 10, while Ryan Newman and four-time champion Jeff Gordon fell out.

Only the top 10 drivers in the points following Saturday night's race at Richmond will be eligible to contend for the championship during the last 10 races of the season.

Busch, driving a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, led 95 laps on the way to the victory in his 31st career start. But the focus throughout the long night was on the contenders for The Chase for the championship.

Greg Biffle, already solidly in The Chase, finished second, followed by Brian Vickers, Busch's teammate; Carl Edwards; series points leader Tony Stewart; and Kasey Kahne.

Kenseth, coming off his first victory of the season last week in Bristol, had another strong night, finishing seventh. He has charged from 17th in the points following the Pocono race July 24.

Edwards solidified his spot in the top 10, remaining eighth, while Kenseth moved to ninth, 10 points ahead of McMurray, who is one point ahead of Newman and 30 in front of Gordon, who began the night in 10th.

A crash on lap 247 gave Biffle one last shot at Busch, but he was unable to challenge the youngster after the green flag waved for a two-lap shootout on lap 253 - three laps after the scheduled finish.

Montoya wins Italian Grand Prix

Monza, Italy - Juan Pablo Montoya's victory from the pole Sunday in the Italian Grand Prix went almost unnoticed.

McLaren-Mercedes teammate Kimi Raikkonen grabbed most of the attention, overcoming an 11th-place starting position to finish fourth and remain in contention for the season title.

Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen's Renault rival, finished second and increased his lead over the Finn in the drivers' standings to 27 points with four races remaining. Wins are worth 10 points each.

Alonso could clinch the title next week in the Belgian GP if he outperforms Raikkonen by a large enough margin.

"I have won there before. It could be the right place to finish the championship," said Alonso, who won an F3000 race in Belgium in 2000.

Montoya's race was mostly uneventful, although a problem developed with his rear left tire on the final laps, and Alonso started gaining on him. The race finished just in time for Montoya, and the Colombian won in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 28.659 seconds.

"I controlled it in the mirror," Montoya said, referring to his deteriorating tire. "I was not afraid."

Alonso, who seemed to be paying more attention to Raikkonen behind him than Montoya in front, finished 2.4 seconds back. Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella took third at a gap of 17.9 seconds, and Raikkonen finished 22.7 seconds behind.

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