Busch wins at Dover
Published 2:14 am Sunday, June 1, 2008
By By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
DOVER, Del. — As is the case at most NASCAR tracks, Kyle Busch heard the boos at Dover International Speedway.
The driver NASCAR fans love to hate no doubt had them even more exasperated when he arrived in Victory Lane — again.
Jeers and victories, they’re pretty much routine for the tempestuous Busch these days.
Busch was simply sensational again, dominating the second half of the 400-mile race Sunday and charging to his Sprint Cup series-best fourth win of the season.
Busch made it 10 victories total this season, including two in the Craftsman Truck Series and four in the Nationwide Series. He won for the third time in the last five Cup races.
And when the Joe Gibbs Racing driver doesn’t find himself taking the checkered flag at the end of a Cup race, he’s pretty close: Busch earned his fifth straight top-three finish and hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 in any of the last seven races.
Team owner Joe Gibbs was in the middle of the celebration on pit road while Busch took a bow from his No. 18 Toyota and saluted his crew.
Busch increased his points lead from 94 to 142 over second-place Jeff Burton after a race where the standings underwent a shake up because an early race wreck took out several contenders.
Busch heard the familiar boos during pre-race introductions, which have cemented his status as NASCAR’s least-popular driver. He has some fun in the role and seems to have accepted the fact he’s NASCAR’s latest ‘‘Bad Boy.’’
Gibbs, though, thought Busch had been humbled since making the move from Hendrick Motorsports. The Redskins coach and NASCAR owner talked about Busch spending time recently with underprivileged kids at a theme park and trying to be a positive role model.
Gibbs sure didn’t paint the picture of Busch as a villain.
Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle were second and third in the Best Buy 400. Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.
Biffle gave all the credit to his pit crew, winning with what he called a third-place car.
Busch, Biffle and Edwards were lucky to be out front early and miss the 10-car wreck early in the race that wiped out five of the top-eight in the points standings. Elliott Sadler was turned into the wall and his No. 19 Dodge was smashed into by Tony Stewart’s No. 20 car, triggering a massive pile up that put several cars in the garage and ended all hope of contention.
Danny Hamlin was knocked out of the race, and Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer all returned later with their cars either missing a hood, a fender or running 100-plus laps behind. But they didn’t want to quit and give up a shot at earning needed points, even if all the best drivers could do was run slow and try and stay out of the way of the leaders.
Kasey Kahne also had his car damaged in the accident and finished 31st after winning last week.
Hamlin suffered the most in the standings, dropping from fourth to ninth. Boyer, Harvick and Stewart all fell three spots. Biffle rocketed from 11th — one spot away from the Chase cutoff — to fifth in the standings.
Stewart took the blame for running too close to Sadler. Stewart lost his chance at victory last week at Charlotte after the No. 20 Toyota got a flat tire with three laps left.
Well, unless you’re on Kyle Busch’s team.
Biffle, the pole sitter, led 99 of the first 100 laps and was cruising on the concrete until his car had some issues that quickly dropped him off the pace. Busch didn’t take the lead for the first time until the 150th lap on the 1-mile concrete track. He led 158 laps.
Busch even got his race helmet back after a fan sneaked in the garage area Friday night and tried to steal the piece of equipment. Someone saw the act, security caught the man and returned the helmet to Bush.
Gibbs interjected. ‘‘On second thought, it might be a lucky helmet,’’ he said, laughing.