No matter the car, no matter the series, Kyle Busch has it covered
Complaints about the new car in the Sprint Cup Series will mount after a less-than-stellar race at Dover on Sunday. But there's one driver you won't hear chirping, as it's becoming apparent -- after yet another win -- Kyle Busch is in a class by himself, writes Terry Blount.
Updated: June 3, 2008, 11:42 AM ETBy Terry Blount | ESPN.com
DOVER, Del. -- No matter how bad the race is, and this one was the snoozer of the season, Kyle Busch and his team find a way to win.Busch easily won the Best Buy 400 on Sunday, his fourth Sprint Cup victory of the year, without making a single on-track pass for the lead."We had a third-place car today," Busch said. "But we just had to get out front to beat them."Quick work in the pits under green-flag stops put Busch out front in the No. 18 Toyota with 163 laps to go. Except for a brief reshuffling for the last green-flag stops, that's where he stayed."The guys on pit road did a great job for me all day," Busch said. "This is their win. I just drove a race to pace myself, but they won it for us."Carl Edwards, the runner-up, couldn't say the same about his crew."I'm behind my guys 100 percent," Edwards said. "But we have to get better in the pits. That's the weakest part of our team. I felt we probably had the best car most of the race, but that last pit stop was a little bit slow. Kyle picked up a couple seconds on us in the pits today."Winning races in the pits isn't what NASCAR had in mind with the new car. The problem is simple: The car out front is almost impossible to pass.Things improved from the All-Star race at Lowe's to the Coca-Cola 600 one week later, but it was worse than ever Sunday at Dover."Clean air is king," Greg Biffle said. "The car four or five lengths back from the leader just can't get any closer."It's the same thing we've heard 100 times this season. The new car has its moments when it provides close racing, especially at short tracks and restrictor-plate races.Then you see a yawner like Sunday and the questions start all over again."Carl and Greg had the cars to beat today," Busch said. "But we were able to get to the right place at the right time."In 400 laps around the Monster Mile, Edwards made the only on-track pass for the top spot, moving by Roush-Fenway teammate Biffle on Lap 171.That was it. Only six cars finished on the lead lap, and those six drivers weren't exactly racing for position at the end.Busch finished 4.2 seconds ahead of second-place Edwards. Biffle was 10.6 seconds back in third and Matt Kenseth was 16.2 seconds behind in fourth.Jeff Gordon was more than 22 seconds behind in fifth, and sixth-place Martin Truex Jr. barely managed to keep Busch from lapping him.High drama it wasn't. The one moment of real drama all day came before the race was 20-miles old. Half of the top 12 drivers in the Cup standings were involved in a scary 11-car accident on the backstretch. The race was red-flagged for 15 minutes.Dale Earnhardt Jr. and both of Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates -- Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin -- were among the victims. The problem started when David Gilliland hit Elliott Sadler's car, causing Sadler to spin into the outside wall coming off of Turn 2. When Sadler's car started sliding down the track, Stewart had nowhere to go and slammed into the left-rear quarter panel of Sadler's No. 19 Dodge.It brought a sarcastic comment from Stewart afterward."I take 100 percent responsibility for being anywhere close to Elliott," Stewart said. "It's totally my fault for being within a half a lap of him. But adversity is our motto."
There are times when the reins have to be pulled back on me. I admit it. But we have people here who help me with that.
-- Kyle Busch
The chain reaction started behind Sadler and Stewart moments after they collided when Hamlin also slammed into Sadler, causing Sadler's car to spin like a top."It's just everyone going for the same spot," Hamlin said. "I feel bad for Elliott. I came piling in there way late. It's so tight off Turn 2. I was on the brakes, but these cars don't stop like the ones in the past."Whatever happens, the new car gets the blame. But Busch and his crew have it all figured out. He now leads the standings by 142 points over Jeff Burton in the No. 2 spot.Yes, Busch is still a jerk at times. He threw his Nationwide teammate under the bus Saturday after Jason Leffler's spin caused Busch to wreck. When asked if Leffler shouldn't have raced him that close, Busch chimed: "Duh."Busch often shows his immaturity, but he understands his flaws."There are times when the reins have to be pulled back on me," he said Sunday. "I admit it. But we have people here like [crew chief] Steve [Addington] who help me with that."Unlike his rivals, Busch doesn't need much help in driving this car. He doesn't care what the car does or doesn't do. He still drives it to the front.Sunday was his 10th NASCAR victory this year, including four in the old-style Nationwide car and two in the Craftsman Truck Series.It's not the car; it's the driver. Good or bad, exciting or boring, bad-boy Busch is the man to beat. Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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