FONTANA, Calif. – Kyle Busch raced to his first Nextel Cup victory Sunday in the Sony HD 500, a race that went to overtime and scrambled the bottom of the top 10 in the point standings with one more event left before the start of the NASCAR playoff.
While the 20-year-old Busch, a rookie and the younger brother of reigning Cup champion Kurt Busch, took control late in the 254-lap race at California Speedway, 2003 series champ Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray jumped into the top 10, while Ryan Newman and four-time champion Jeff Gordon fell out.
Only the top 10 drivers in the points following next Saturday night’s race at Richmond will be eligible to contend for the championship during the last 10 races of the season.
Busch, driving a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, led 95 laps on the way to the victory in his 31st career start. But the focus throughout the long night was on the contenders for The Chase for the championship.
Greg Biffle, already solidly in The Chase, finished second, followed by Brian Vickers, Busch’s teammate; Carl Edwards; series points leader Tony Stewart; and Kasey Kahne.
Kenseth, coming off his first victory of the season last week in Bristol, finished seventh. He has charged from 17th in the points following the Pocono race July 24.
Edwards solidified his spot in the top 10, remaining eighth, while Kenseth moved to ninth, 10 points ahead of McMurray, who is one point ahead of Newman and 30 in front of Gordon, who began the night in 10th.
A crash on lap 247 gave Biffle one last shot at Busch, but he was unable to challenge the youngster after the green flag waved for a two-lap shootout on lap 253 – three laps after the scheduled finish.
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