Busch Wins Rain-Delayed Busch Race At Daytona

Saturday, July 7th 2007, 2:09 pm
By: News On 6

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Kyle Busch saw several cars clustered around the inside lane and another one crawling along in the outside lane.

He felt he had no choice but to swerve right, driving through the grass, passing several cars and taking the lead coming off pit road.

It turned out to be Busch's best move of the race.

The risky maneuver propelled Busch to the front and eventually to his first NASCAR victory at Daytona International Speedway _ a win in the rain-delayed Busch Series race Saturday morning.

``It was either that or stop,'' Busch said. ``Some of those guys were lost on pit road. I'm not sure what's going on with that. It was kind of a cluster. I wasn't sure if we were going to get busted.''

NASCAR officials reviewed the move, but decided not to penalize Busch. They warned him, though, telling him not to do it again. Busch obliged and picked up his eighth career series win _ his first since March 26, 2006, at Bristol.

``It was definitely a good race car,'' said Busch, whose only other win at Daytona came in a 2004 ARCA race. ``All we had to do was keep it out front and keep the mistakes to a minimum. Really there were none today.''

Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick came from the back of the field several times and finished second, followed by Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer. Series points leader Carl Edwards crossed the finish line 11th, three spots ahead of defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The top eight spots went to Nextel Cup regulars. None of them had enough to beat Busch.

``The No. 5 car was definitely the best car, and everybody else was just kind of racing for second,'' said 18th-place finisher Jamie McMurray.

Busch led four times for 65 laps and ended a string of bad luck at the sport's most famous track.

He celebrated the win with a burnout and a beer shower in Victory Lane, then joined 19 other drivers in retreating to their motorhomes to rest up for the Nextel Cup event scheduled about nine hours later _ a rare day-night doubleheader created when rain washed out the Busch race Friday night.

The 20 Cup regulars were facing a long day of 650 miles of racing.

Busch dominated much of the 102-lap morning event, taking the lead on lap 24 following a round of pit stops. He turned into the grass to avoid congestion around the pit road exit, passing Bowyer, Kyle Krisiloff and others for the lead. He then stayed out front pretty much the rest of the way, leading 61 of the final 64 laps.

``You can say it was a dominating day, but you have to have all the pieces fall in the right order _ unlike what we had in February,'' Busch said. ``It all worked out today.''

Busch, who will lose his Nextel Cup ride with Hendrick Motorsports at the end of this season to make room for Earnhardt, has become NASCAR's top free agent, and his victory at Daytona could make him even more sought after.

He could have also won both races here in February.

Busch dominated the early part of the last Busch race at Daytona, leading 46 laps before a fuel pressure problem ended his day.

He was strong again in the Cup race the following day, but then caused a massive wreck on the final lap that helped Harvick edge Mark Martin at the finish line.

Several cars had a shot at Busch in the final laps Saturday, but no one had the speed to get by him.

Juan Pablo Montoya spun with two laps remaining, bringing out the sixth caution, bunching up the field and setting up a green-white-checkered finish.

But Busch was perfect on the restart, holding off Harvick and Blaney and making the final two laps look easy.

``Every time I got to the back of Kyle, I just didn't get the help I would need to get by him,'' Blaney said. ``I'm not even sure we could've passed him anyway because he had a fast car.''