Keeping Pace

Kyle Busch pounces on Johnson’s mistake, wins at Dover

Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson battle on track - swapping the lead consistently. Johnson led eight times and Busch led six times. (Photo courtesy of Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) (Todd Warshaw / Getty Images North America)
Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson battle on track - swapping the lead consistently. Johnson led eight times and Busch led six times. (Photo courtesy of Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) (Todd Warshaw / Getty Images North America)

Kyle Busch, 25, a champion in waiting, and Jimmie Johnson, a proven one, waged quite a battle on the high-banked, 1-mile track, the lead see-sawing back and forth between the two each time the race resumed following five caution periods and assorted green-flag stops.

(May 16, 2010)
 
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
 
DOVER, Del.—Kyle Busch took advantage of a rare mistake by four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson to pull away for an easy win Sunday in the Autism Speaks 400 presented by HERSHEY'S Milk & Milkshakes at Dover International Speedway.
 
Busch, 25, a champion in waiting, and Johnson, a proven one, waged quite a battle on the high-banked, 1-mile track, the lead see-sawing back and forth between the two each time the race resumed following five caution periods and assorted green-flag stops.
 
But when Johnson was flagged for speeding while exiting the pits during a round of green-flag stops on Lap 363 and forced to return to pit road to serve a drive-through penalty, the battle was effectively over.
 
By the time Johnson returned to the track, he was one lap down. And Busch was long gone.
 
“We snookered him on that one,” Busch told his crew as he streaked past the finish line. “He saw us coming, and he sped.”
 
Pitting closer to the entrance to pit road, Johnson had completed his stop and was making his way back onto the track when Busch shot out of his pit box alongside him.
 
Johnson said he didn’t speed up to beat Busch back onto the track but was penalized for speeding before reaching Busch’s pit stall.
 
“Yeah, I guess I got busted in the segment just leaving, or after, our pit box, the very next one,” Johnson said. “So what I can take from this is that I got a much better launch out of my pit box than I did on other pit stops and then was speeding in that given area.
 
“At the end (of pit road), I wasn’t busted. I knew Kyle had me beat when I saw the jack drop for him and he was easing away from me. And I kind of gave up at that point on racing him off of pit road because I knew we needed to be single file on the apron.”
 
Jeff Burton finished second by 7.551 seconds. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann completed the top five.
 
There were eight race leaders, but once Kasey Kahne faltered—bitten by a broken gear-shifter early in the race—the battle for the win was between Busch and Johnson.
 
“I think the race off pit road really won it for us,” Busch said, noting that he didn’t know if Johnson sped in an attempt to beat him back onto the track, “but that’s what I’m going with.
 
“I wouldn’t say that we psyched Jimmie out. I mean, he’s won four championships so he’s pretty much been through all the head games in this world.
 
“But … it kind of turned our way today. Unfortunately for those guys … they got busted for speeding and we weren’t able to beat them outright and race them around to the end of the race the last 30 laps.
 
“But I feel like our car was at least good enough where we could at least challenge them for it, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we could have beat him today, with or without the penalty. But he had a fast racecar all day. It was a fun battle there racing him through the last … 100 laps or so.”
 
Busch led six times for 131 laps, and the win moved him to second in the point standings. He trails points leader Kevin Harvick, who finished seventh, by 69 points.
 

Johnson led eight times for 225 laps. His 16th-place finish, however, dropped him two spots to fourth, in the standings.




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.





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