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Dover, DE (Sports Network) - Kurt Busch boosted his championship hopes by winning Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, grabbed the lead from Jimmie Johnson after a late-race restart. He then held off Johnson in another restart before beating him at the finish by 0.9 seconds for his second win of the season and the 24th of his career.
"It was just a perfect execution with pit stops and making the car better during the race," Busch said. "I can't be happier right now, and to win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, this is what it's all about. That's the feeling of the playoffs."
Busch has bounced back in the playoffs after a frustrating race last week at New Hampshire, where he had trouble getting his car passed through pre-race inspection. Busch wound up finishing 22nd there.
"We had everything go wrong last week, but we had everything go right this week," he said. "We just need nice, smooth races from here."
Carl Edwards dominated in the early going, but Johnson took over from there, leading 157 laps, before giving up the lead to Busch after the lap 359 restart.
"I just got a poor restart when I was the leader," Johnson said.
Johnson's second-place run at Dover allowed him to rebound in the Chase as well. Johnson, who is attempting to win his record-extending sixth series championship, moved from tenth to fifth in the point standings.
"It just gets us back in the thick of things," he added.
Johnson has won six races at Dover, including last year's fall event here.
Edwards recovered from a pit-road speeding penalty to finish third. He put on a dominating performance to win Saturday's Nationwide Series race at this track.
"We had the car that could win, and it was completely my fault," Edwards said. "It's hard to get over a mistake like that."
After the third race in the Chase, Edwards and Kevin Harvick share the points lead. Harvick finished 10th.
Busch and Tony Stewart are both nine points out of the lead. Stewart, who won at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, finished two laps behind in 25th.
Johnson is 13 points behind, while Brad Keselowski's 20th-place run put him 14 markers away from the leaders.
Kasey Kahne, a non-Chase driver, finished fourth, followed by title contender Matt Kenseth, who is also 14 points behind Edwards and Harvick.
Kyle Busch is 15 points down after finishing sixth. Jeff Gordon struggled for a 12th-place run at Dover. Gordon is 19 points behind.
Round four in the Chase is next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
10/02 19:05:27 ET