Archive for Monday, July 17, 2006

Young gun gets 1st NASCAR victory

Kyle Busch regains swagger that made him big-time rookie

July 17, 2006


Kyle Busch learned some hard lessons last year as a rookie in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series.

He put some of that knowledge to good use Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway on the way to his first victory of the season.

"We're just trying to bide our time, making our own race and trying to get it to the end in one piece," Busch said. "Two weeks ago, we finished second (in Daytona) and last week we finished third (at Chicago). We're just running our race out there and letting everybody else make their mistakes."

A year ago, Busch was the best rookie in NASCAR's top stock car series and had two victories, but the driver who is now 21 years old wound up a disappointing 20th in the season points and had as many bad results as good ones.

"Last year, we made the mistake of worrying too much about what other teams were doing," Busch said. "We kind of lost touch with what we were needing to do. Now we don't worry about anybody else during the race. We just worry about our own race car."

That was evident Sunday as Busch drove hard and avoided the problems that brought out 11 caution flags and caused trouble for several of the top contenders.

Busch passed Elliott Sadler on lap 240 and appeared to have the third victory of his career all wrapped up before a crash involving Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers and rookie Clint Bowyer brought out a caution flag on lap 298, just three laps from the scheduled end of the Lenox Industrial Tools 300.

With a number of drivers concerned about running out of the fuel even before the extra laps, including Sadler, the race was extended even longer when Michael Waltrip ran into the back of Robby Gordon on lap 303.

The last restart finally came on lap 307. By that time, both rookie Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards had moved past Sadler, but Busch easily pulled away from the challengers in the two-lap sprint to the finish.

Edwards dove past Hamlin for second place on the final lap and Hamlin then appeared to run out of gas, fading all the way to sixth as Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick all drove past on the final straightaway.

"I had a car I thought could win," said Hamlin, who earned his first Cup victory in June at Pocono.


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