Burton capitalizes on caution flag to win wreck-filled Busch race
CONCORD, N.C. -- Jeff Burton came from the back of the field Friday night to win the crash-filled NASCAR Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The Nextel Cup star had a fast car, but was overshadowed for much of the 200-lap race by runaway points leader Carl Edwards and pole-winner Greg Biffle, who swapped the lead back and forth several times before both went out in multicar accidents just seven laps apart.
Burton, who moved steadily through the field after having to start from the rear because of an engine change, took the lead and control with 61 laps to go in the Dollar General 300.
Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who both also started deep in the pack, finished a distant second and third. They were followed by rookie Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, rookie David Ragan, Robby Gordon and Clint Bowyer, all Cup drivers who also will race Saturday night in the Bank of America 500.
"We had a really good car," Burton said. "It got better as the night went on. These guys [on the Richard Childress Racing crew] just kept making the car better all day. And, give them credit. They changed the engine, oil lines, everything [Thursday night], and the car was just great."
There were 10 caution flags in the race and Burton said the final one, on lap 182, gave him the win.
"We got lucky with that last caution," he said. "Junior was coming hard and I'm sure he would have gotten by us. But, after we got the tires cooled down during the caution, my car was fast, as fast as it had been all night."
It was Burton's fourth Busch win of the year and the 26th of his career.
Edwards was leading before pitting under caution on lap 128. At his request, the team took a few extra seconds to put in a spring rubber to help the handling of his Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Edwards fell back to 10th for the restart on lap 133.
Moments later, reigning Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson slid sideways, igniting a big crash that caught up Edwards, knocking him out of the race for the second straight week.
"We were doing the best we could to get that car to Victory Lane," said Edwards, who started the night with a whopping lead of 696 points over David Reutimann and could have wrapped up the title. "We did what we could to win the race. We had the fastest car."
Bowyer, who grabbed the lead on that same pit stop by taking fuel only, then spun out and drove Biffle into the wall as Burton, who was running third, drove into the grass to avoid the crash.
"I think he was just driving a little over his head," Biffle said of Bowyer. "I had four new tires and he's trying to hold us off with the old tires and it just got away from him and [he] collected us. I didn't feel like anybody was going to have a chance at beating us after Edwards went out.
"I felt like it was ours to give away and, unfortunately, we gave it away," added Biffle, who has gone 56 races since his last Busch Series victory.
Edwards led 60 laps and Biffle 53 before finishing 33rd and 30th, respectively.
Jason Keller, who finished 34th after being caught up in the same crash as Edwards, made his 418th Busch start. That broke the series record of 417, set by Tommy Houston. Houston, who ended his Busch career in 1996 at the age of 51, was on hand to see the mark broken.
"I started racing [in Busch] at 37," Houston said. "Jason is 37 now, so he's going to take that record up quite a bit. My grandson is racing now, so maybe he'll come along and break Jason's record."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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