|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series|
· All-Time Wins
· Driver Info
· Race-Day Results
· Race Preview
· Race Update
· Season Chart
· Starting Grid
· Team Info
· Track Info
More Auto Racing
· IndyCar Series
· Champ Cars
· Formula One
· Nationwide Series
· Camping World Truck Series
Hampton, GA (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch won Sunday afternoon's Kobalt Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway giving Toyota its first-ever Sprint Cup victory. It is the first win for a foreign manufacturer since Al Keller took a Jaguar to Victory Lane in 1954. The No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver crossed the finish line 2.066 seconds ahead of Tony Stewart.
The victory was Busch's first of the season and fifth of his Sprint Cup career.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon completed the top-five.
Other drivers of note and their finishing positions: Kevin Harvick (7th), Matt Kenseth (8th), Jeff Burton (11th), Bobby Labonte (12th), Jimmie Johnson (13th) and Ryan Newman (14th).
"It was an awesome piece by Joe Gibbs Racing, just unbelievable to be able to run like that," said Busch. "Carl (Edwards) had a great car too, but he had some issues and to run 500 miles you can't have any."
Edwards was dominating until 53 laps to go when his engine blew up. From there it was all Busch to the checkered flag.
Gordon won the pole, but Earnhardt Jr. sped past him to lead the first lap and many more. It seemed that most people early on were struggling with a loose race car, but "Junior's" Chevrolet was handling very well and he built a six- second lead on Gordon and third place Kyle Busch by lap 15. Gordon continued to fade (too tight), slipping to fifth at lap 23.
Through 25 green-flag laps and Earnhardt Jr. began to lose some of his lead to Busch, but Earnhardt Jr. was still putting up fast laps and just 27 cars remained on the lead lap after 30 times around the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway. A debris caution on lap 38 was the only thing that could slow the No.88 Chevy. Just 22 drivers remained on the lead lap at that point and such names as Matt Kenseth, Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray were a lap down already.
They restarted on lap 41 and Earnhardt Jr. and Busch quickly built a big lead on the rest of the field. But even the always fast No.18 Toyota couldn't keep up with Junior and after five green flag laps he fell over one second behind. Busch's car began to come back to him and he slowly reeled Junior in. He was right on his bumper by lap 59 and on the following lap slid underneath the No.88 for his first lead of the day.
Busch was flying now and he put one second on Earnhardt Jr. in just a couple of laps. And Edwards was closing on the No.88 Chevy passing him on lap 70.
Meanwhile, Busch was starting to lap some pretty good cars. He put Mark Martin one lap down on lap 74 and two laps later Kasey Kahne found himself a lap down. Only five cars were within 10 seconds of Busch - Earnhardt Jr., Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. Lap 80 and only 18 cars remained on the lead lap.
A second debris caution flag slowed the field and sent everyone down pit road for some well-needed and overdue adjustments.
After the caution, Busch repeated his domination, but this time his chaser was JGR teammate Hamlin as the No.11 got around Earnhardt Jr. on the restart. With Stewart in ninth, it was looking pretty good for the Joe Gibbs Racing stable. There were also three Richard Childress Racing cars in the top-10.
But no one was the equal of Busch, at least through the first 100 laps. And no one was given the Las Vegas native the trophy, particularly after yesterday's Nationwide Series race where Busch led 153 laps but a shock failure sent him careening into the outside wall with just 25 laps to go. Earnhardt Jr.'s car began to "come in." He passed Hamlin and began to close on Busch.
A Kasey Kahne spin on lap 113 brought out caution flag No.3 and sent the field back down pit lane, trying to make adjustments that would allow them to compete with Busch and Earnhardt Jr.
Behind the lead pair was Harvick, Bowyer, Gordon, Stewart and Jimmie Johnson made his first appearance in the top-10. As with the previous two restarts, Busch would get off to a great lead (3.5 seconds at lap 130).
This time Earnhardt Jr. was having some kind of handling problem and both Harvick and Bowyer flew around him for second and third place, respectively. The No.88 continued to drop through the top-10 as first Stewart and then Gordon got around him.
As they hit the 145-lap mark, Bowyer was the fastest car on the track, in second place and slowly closing on Busch. By lap 148 the gap was under one second. Then Busch slid into the wall and radioed to his crew that he had done some rear end damage. Bowyer was now right on his rear bumper and on lap 151 ducked to the bottom of the track to take the lead, just the third driver to lead the race under a green flag. Bowyer's lead was now more than two seconds as Busch couldn't keep up.
Around lap 165 green-flag pit stops began and the only change was to Martin Truex Jr. who had to make a second stop putting him in the large group of one- lap-down cars.
Bowyer and Busch still showed the way with Harvick, Hamlin and Edwards rounding out the top-five. Hamlin came in on lap 180 claiming he had a right- side tire problem and he too joined the one-lap down group leaving just 15 cars on the lead lap. On lap 185 Johnson also got lapped by Bowyer.
One interesting name that popped into the top-10 was Kenseth. Only 50 laps earlier, he had been in danger of going two laps down to the leaders and now he was in contention for a win.
Bowyer was still flying, four seconds ahead of Busch and six second in front of Edwards. More cars got lapped, Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 193, Biffle on lap 195 and Brian Vickers on lap 197. Just 11 cars remained on the lead lap.
Lap 198 and a debris caution flag sent the leader in for fuel and tires. Bowyer wanted no changes to his Chevrolet and who could blame him.
On the restart Busch went sailing around the outside of Bowyer for the lead. Maybe Bowyer should have made adjustments as on lap 210 Edwards went around the outside of Bowyer for second place. The No.99 Ford was running Busch down and closed in on the No.18 Toyota. An Elliott Sadler crash caused caution flag No.5 on lap 220 just as Edwards was making a move around Busch, to put a halt in the action. A fast stop by the No.24 Hendrick Motorsports crew (under 13 seconds) put Gordon in second place behind Busch. Edwards came out sixth after a missed lug nut.
On lap 231 Sadler spun again and this caution flag gave the "Lucky Dog Pass" to Johnson. The leaders stayed out, but from fifth place on back they pitted.
Edwards, with new tires, flew through the field taking second from Gordon on lap 237. Two laps later he went around the outside of Busch for the lead and just 85 laps to go to the checkered flag. The newer tires were doing their job and Edwards' lead was three seconds with 80 laps to go. The gap was five seconds with 75 laps remaining.
Could Edwards win his third race in a row?
On lap 261 Sadler spun for the third time and this time he hit the inside wall ending his day. With 64 laps to go, no one could likely reach the checkered flag yet, but this would probably be the only final stop that teams could make major adjustments. Edwards, Busch and Earnhardt Jr. won the race off pit road.
One lap after the restart, Busch edged past Edwards at the start/finish line, but the No.99 fought back and retook the lead. He kept charging and built the lead to two seconds with 53 laps remaining. But suddenly massive smoke was coming out the back of his car and he was forced to pit, his race over with engine problems.
"That was a race-winning car, that's too bad," said Edwards. "I was just cruising around."
Busch inherited the lead and a one and-a-half second gap on Earnhardt Jr. but Edwards had laid oil on the track and NASCAR put out the yellow flag to clean it up.
That made pit strategy easy - take four tires and fuel and be able to go the finish line. Busch won the race off pit lane, followed by Stewart, Biffle, Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon.
The green flag dropped with 37 laps to go. Busch took off like he was shot out of a cannon. On lap 291 he ran his fastest lap of the race and he expanded the lead to more than two seconds. Thirty laps to go and the margin was three seconds. Busch maintained the margin at three seconds as the field passed the 300-lap mark.
From there he cruised to his second win of the weekend (He won the Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night). He was also way ahead in the Nationwide Series race before a crash ended his chance at a three-race weekend sweep. He led a total of 365 laps over the weekend (Craftsman - 39, Nationwide - 153, Sprint Cup - 173).
Busch will take a 73-point lead over Biffle to next week's race. Harvick is third, 91 points behind the No.18 Toyota driver.
The next race in the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for Sunday, March 16th at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
03/09 18:23:52 ET
Powered by The Sports Network.