Sonoma, CA (Sports Network) - Kurt Busch can now add a road course win to his
already impressive Sprint Cup Series resume.
Busch, the 2004 series champion, put on a dominating performance in Sunday's
Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway for his first road course victory in
the series. He led 76 of 110 laps around this 1.99-mile, 12-turn Northern
California course. Busch finished 2.7 seconds ahead of Jeff Gordon.
"It was an unbelievable setup," Busch said. "Once we got into the groove with
this car, it seemed to get better after lap five or six."
Busch capitalized on pit strategy by only stopping twice while the other front
runners made three or more stops.
It was Busch's 23rd career Sprint Cup win but his first since the 600-mile
race at Charlotte in May 2010 (38 races ago).
Busch and his No.22 Penske Racing Dodge team continue to turn their season
around since the last weekend at Richmond, where Busch had a tirade over his
team radio, complaining about the poor performance of his car.
He had won three consecutive poles prior to Sonoma. Busch moved from seventh
to fourth in the point standings after his Sonoma victory.
"We've been on a high these past few weeks," he added.
Gordon, a five-time Sonoma winner, struggled with the handling of his car for
most of this race but rebounded nicely at the end with a second-place run.
"It was a struggle," Gordon said. "We really missed the setup at the beginning
of this race. I don't know if it was the adjustments we made were that good or
if it was the track position plus the track changing at the end. It looked
like a lot of guys were really struggling with grip there at the end. Our car
was actually pretty good. We were fast."
Carl Edwards, the current points leader, finished third. Edwards opted not to
compete in Saturday's Nationwide Series race in Elkhart Lake, WI to focus on
his Cup efforts here this weekend.
"We were lucky; everything went our way today," he said. "It all came together
with our third-place finish. It was a great points day."
Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-five.
Joey Logano, the pole sitter, finished sixth, while Jimmie Johnson, who won
his first road course race one year ago at Sonoma, took the seventh spot.
Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Busch's teammate, Brad Keselowski, placed
eighth through 10th, respectively.
Edwards left Sonoma with a 25-point advantage over Harvick.
The race featured two altercations between Tony Stewart, a two-time winner at
Sonoma, and Brian Vickers. On lap 38, Stewart bumped Vickers from behind and
spun him around in turn 11.
Vickers then retaliated on lap 88 when he dumped Stewart into the wall at the
same location of their previous incident. The rear of Stewart's car came to
rest on a pile of tires in front of the turn 11 wall. Both drivers were
battling for a top-five position at the time.
"I thought I had it coming because I dumped him earlier, but I dumped him
because he was blocking," Stewart said. "If anybody wants to block all year,
that's what I'm going to keep doing."
Stewart spent several laps in the garage for repairs and tried to return to
the race with a few laps remaining, but his attempt was unsuccessful. He wound
up finishing 39th, while Vickers placed three positions ahead of him in 36th.
"I don't know why [Stewart] did it [on lap 38]," Vickers said. "He might not
have noticed, but the 18 [Kyle Busch] was off the racetrack and was coming
back across through the dirt sideways. I was trying to avoid the 18, and I was
on the inside of the car in front of me. Tony was the least of my concern. I
don't think it was an attempt against Tony, but that's what he felt like it
Dale Earnhardt Jr. got caught up in the first wreck between Stewart and
Vickers. Earnhardt Jr. retired from the race shortly after when he sustained a
broken radiator. He finished 41st.
"We got into part of that mess and banged up the nose a little bit,"
Earnhardt Jr. said. "I knocked a hole in the radiator and ended up hurting the
engine a little bit."