Kurt Busch Wins Rain-Delayed NASCAR Nextel Cup At Michigan - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Kurt Busch Wins Rain-Delayed NASCAR Nextel Cup At Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) _ Kurt Busch won for the second time in three races, prevailing in a rare Tuesday NASCAR event after two days of rain postponements at Michigan International Speedway.

In winning the 3M Performance 400, Busch resumed his late-season charge to a spot in the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.

The 2004 Cup champion solidified his berth in the 12-man lineup for the upcoming Chase, holding off Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps for the 17th win of his career.

NASCAR's top circuit had never run on a Tuesday during the modern era, which began in 1973.

The race was originally scheduled to be run Sunday, but two days of rain kept the cars off the track. Other than a 32-minute fog delay Tuesday after the first 10 laps, the race was run without any more weather problems.

A spin by Greg Biffle with just two laps remaining sent the race into overtime. But Busch, driving a Dodge for Penske Racing, easily pulled away from Truex's DEI Chevrolet when the green flag waved for a two-lap sprint on lap 202.

Busch, who didn't take his first lead until lap 101 and wound up leading four times for 92 laps, beat Truex to the finish by 0.495 seconds _ about eight car lengths on the high-banked, 2-mile oval.

There were two cautions in the last 13 laps and Busch stayed on track with worn tires while some of the cars chasing him pitted for fresh rubber. But he made two perfect restarts.

``It was tough,'' Busch said. ``You know, I've got to thank the fans who stuck it out on a Tuesday to see a green-white-checker (finish). We put it on for them here at the end, all the restarts, all of the guys on different strategy, it really was a tough, hard-fought win.''

Reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Dave Blaney, June race winner Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, last week's winner on the road course at Watkins Glen.

With just three races remaining until the start of the 10-race stock car playoff, Busch remains 12th in the standings, 33 points behind Truex. Dale Earnhardt Jr. jumped past Ryan Newman, Busch's Penske Racing teammate, into 13th, but a slow pit stop late in the race cost him a top-10 finish as the fan favorite wound up 12th.

``This was a great win,'' said Busch, who broke a 51-race winless string two weeks ago at Pocono. ``It just backs up what we did at Pocono.''

Series leader Jeff Gordon, who started from the pole, was in the top five most of the day before some late problems relegated him to a 27th-place finish.

Gordon's crew had to make a quick repair on a loose flap along the edge of the No. 24's rear window during a late pit stop, costing the four-time Cup champion several positions. He then spun into the infield because of a deflating tire and fell out of the lead lap after getting stuck in the grass left soft and muddy by the heavy rains of the past two days.

Earnhardt, desperately trying to make his way into the Chase lineup, was also a top-10 car most of the day, but he slid through his pits on a late stop and also fell out of contention.

``I made a mistake on that pit stop late in the race and that probably cost us about five spots,'' said Earnhardt, who had to start from the rear of the 43-car field after his team changed the transmission on his No. 8 Chevy. ``But we ran good, came from the back, passing cars and racing everybody. That was fun.

Truex, Earnhardt's teammate who also ran second here in June, was a bit frustrated finishing behind Busch, the driver closest to him in the battle for the Chase.

``I wanted it so bad I could taste it back there behind Kurt,'' Truex said. ``I felt like last time we probably had the car to beat. This time we didn't. This time we had good strategy and a good car there at the end.''
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