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Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch overcame tire and steering wheel issues and fought his way back from deep in the field to win Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway. The No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver held a half-car length lead over Carl Edwards when the race ended under caution.
It was Busch's sixth victory of the season and the 10th of his Sprint Cup Series career. Busch also recorded his second-straight restrictor-plate victory. His first "plate" win came in April at Talladega.
He finished 0.005 seconds behind winner Jamie McMurray in last year's event at Daytona.
"Man, I can't believe that we're here right now," a jubilant Busch said. "We didn't have the best car here tonight, but these guys never gave up, and we never gave up out there on the race track."
Busch encountered problems during the mid-stages of the race when his steering wheel was off-line. He fell all the way back to 37th, but patiently made his way through the field.
After running among the lead pack, Busch dipped below Jeff Gordon and grabbed the lead from his former Hendrick Motorsports teammate just before a multi-car crash occurred with four laps to go. Jimmie Johnson was among the seven drivers involved in the incident.
The accident set up a green-white-checkered finish. On the restart, Busch pulled ahead, but Edwards bumped Gordon from behind, sending Gordon into the infield grass.
"I was doing everything I could," Edwards said. "Jeff moved out on me."
Busch and Edwards battled for the lead on the first lap of the two-lap shootout, but an accident involving Michael Waltrip, Sam Hornish, Jr. Travis Kvapil and Dave Blaney ended the race. Busch managed to pull a half-car length ahead of Edwards when the caution flag was displayed giving the 23-year-old his first victory at Daytona.
Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and David Ragan completed the top-five.
Paul Menard led the field for the green and led the first 19 laps, eclipsing the most laps he's ever led in his "Cup" career. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made the pass on Menard for the top spot on Lap 20 just before the caution flag waved for the first time when A.J. Allmendinger crashed.
During the first set of stops, Kyle Busch won the battle off of pit lane and claimed the lead for the first time. Meanwhile, Earnhardt, Jr. had to make an unexpected second stop under the caution for more tires. Earnhardt, Jr. had pitted too close to the wall to put left-side tires on the No. 88 Chevrolet. He fell back to 14th in the field, but quickly rebounded and grabbed the lead from Busch on Lap 35.
Earnhardt, Jr. went on to lead a race-high 51 laps before finishing eighth.
An incident involving Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya on Lap 71 allowed an ill-stricken Tony Stewart to hand the wheel over to J.J. Yeley. Stewart was suffering from flu-like symptoms before the start of the race. Yeley quickly replaced Stewart during the caution and drove the No.20 Toyota to a 20th-place run.
Ryan Newman ran into trouble on Lap 45 when he spun on the backstretch. Newman was involved in two more incidents which gave this year's Daytona 500 champion a 36th-place finish in his return to the "World Center of Racing."
With the victory, Busch increased his points lead to 182 over new second-place Earnhardt, Jr. as the next event is scheduled for Saturday night, July 12th at the Chicagoland Speedway.
07/06 00:38:45 ET
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