Kurt Busch Wins Atlanta For Second Straight Year, 3rd of Career
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kurt Busch has won again at Atlanta Motor Speedway, pulling away on a second restart after a couple of wild wrecks to capture the Kobalt Tools 500.
Busch won the spring race at the 1.54-mile trioval for the second year in a row, beating Matt Kenseth to the line by nearly half a second Sunday. Juan Montoya was third, followed by Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard.
The race went 16 laps past its scheduled 325 because of two big crashes. The first came when Carl Edwards, running 156 laps behind, clipped Brad Keselowski and sent him flying toward the grandstands upside down. Keselowski was OK, but NASCAR ordered Edwards to park his car and summoned him to its trailer for a tongue-lashing.
Kobalt Tools 500 Notes & Quotes
HAMPTON, Ga. — Forty laps into Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500, three fairly prominent drivers — Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski — were in a crash that was particularly costly for Edwards and Logano.
It wasn’t costly for Keselowski, whose Dodge made contact with Edwards’ Ford, which in turn sent the No. 99 skidding up the banking into Logano’s Toyota.
“I thought he (Keselowski) would give me just a little bit of room, and he didn’t, and we ended up overlapping,” said Edwards, who was charitable. “I know Brad has made his career on being super-aggressive.
“We both had a part in it, and it’snot his fault, but it’s just a little too aggressive, overall, I think, for that early in a race, and it caused us to wreck.”
It wasn’t over, though.
While Kurt Busch was attempting to hold off Juan Montoya for the victory, on lap 322, Edwards apparently picked a dangerous moment for a payback. His nudge of Keselowski’s Dodge sent it tumbling in front of the front-straight grandstands.
The irony, of course, is that the roles were reversed at Talladega almost a year ago, when Keselowski claimed his only Sprint Cup victory to date by touching off a crash that sent Edwards’ Ford into a spectacular series of flips. NASCAR officials parked Edwards’ car shortly thereafter.
Keselowski opined, referring to Talladega, “At least I didn’t do it intentionally,” and called it “a wild ride that was uncalled for.”
Edwards didn’t apologize for the crash, per se, but just said he was sorry at how it turned out.
“The scary part was that the car went airborne, which wasn’t what I expected,” he said.
Latest disaster — Struggling driver-owner Robby Gordon has seldom, if ever, “started and parked,” but the depiction is sort of academic where Gordon’s season to date is concerned.
Gordon crashed, apparently as a result of tire breakdown, on the fourth lap of the Kobalt Tools 500.
Gordon completed 207 of the 208 laps in the Daytona (alleged) 500, finishing 28th. He then placed 33rd at Auto Club Speedway, retiring due to “overheating.” Gordon was 32nd in Las Vegas, finishing five laps down.
Fox’s Mike Joy made reference to “Robby’s star-crossed year,” but it’s far beyond a mere run of bad luck. Gordon has one top-20 finish in his last 28 races.
As the laps turn — Other potential contenders faded into oblivion early, as well. For pole winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., it was an unscheduled pit stop For Mark Martin, it was a spin through the trioval grass on lap
115. For Jeff Gordon, it was a pit-road speeding penalty at lap 158.
Whatever it takes — On lap 226, after a search of the front straight that would’ve made Homeland Security proud, a safety crew member actually found a very small chunk of something on the front straight that might have been debris.
The search blunted a Kasey Kahne lead of nearly eight seconds.
Encore: Kurt Busch won the AMS spring race for the second year in a row, giving Dodge its third straight victory at the track.
Inevitable: The “not one, not two, but a possible three green-white-checkered finishes” rule once again produced an untidy mess at the end, though a seven-car crash required only one do-over. Somehow the race inexplicably drifted 16 laps, 24.64 miles, past its scheduled distance.
In hot pursuit: Crossing the finish line in order behind Kurt Busch were Matt Kenseth in a Ford, Juan Pablo Montoya in a Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard and A.J. Allmendinger, all in Fords. Brian Vickers was seventh in a Toyota.
Disappointments: Jimmie Johnson 12th? Really. Mark Martin was 33rd, Joey Logano 35th, Carl Edwards 39th and David Reutimann 40th. And the pole winner? Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 15th.
21 — Kurt Busch’s career victory total.
5 — Drivers (Busch, Bobby Labonte, Benny Parsons, Jack Smith and Jeff Burton) with 21 career victories.
9 — Consecutive seasons in which Kurt Busch has won at least one race.
3 — Consecutive Dodge victories at this track.
.332 — Kurt Busch’s career Sprint Cup races.
.063 — Busch’s career winning percentage.
“Even with all the restarts at the end, I still think we had the car to beat, regardless.” — Kurt Busch
“The restarts were crazy … just a mess.” — Kasey Kahne
“I would’ve bet anything there’d be a wreck on the first one because you had so many people on different tires.” — Juan Pablo Montoya
“Even at a big track like this where you can pass, track position is still big. We knew we probably weren’t going to hold off (drivers who had changed) four tires, but there was some excitement there at the end and we were in front of it.” — Paul Menard
Thursday, April 24 12:00 PM NSCS HAULERS ENTER 2:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 7:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Friday, April 25 8:30 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 9:00 AM NSCS ROOKIE & SPOTTER MEETINGS & RANDOM DRAWING 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM NSCS PRACTICE 1:00 - 2:00 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE 5:10 PM NSCS QUALIFYING 7:00 PM NNS RACE 8:00 PM NSCS GARAGE CLOSES
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 AAA Insurance Toyota) · Two wins, three top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 10.1 · Average Running Position of 9.5, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 100.7, fourth-best · 183 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 851 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.414 mph, fifth-fastest · 5,140 Laps in the Top 15 (80.1%), fifth-most · 485 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fourth-most
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 17.3 · Average Running Position of 14.4, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.2, seventh-best · 364 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.386 mph, sixth-fastest · 4,338 Laps in the Top 15 (60.1%), ninth-most · 428 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota) · Four wins, 12 top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 7.2 · Average Running Position of 7.8, second-best · Driver Rating of 111.9, second-best · 529 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.749 mph, second-fastest · 6,271 Laps in the Top 15 (86.9%), second-most · 533 Quality Passes, third-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 FordAlwaysRacing Ford) · One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.7 · Average Running Position of 14.9, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.1, ninth-best · 291 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 957 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.290 mph, ninth-fastest · 4,276 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), 10th-most · 429 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) · Two wins, 16 top fives, 26 top 10s; six poles · Average finish of 14.1 · Average Running Position of 13.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.0, sixth-best · 343 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.375 mph, seventh-fastest · 4,518 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), eighth-most · 436 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 8.9 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 114.8 · Series-high 584 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 116.782 mph · 5,361 Laps in the Top 15 (89.2%), fourth-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet) · Three wins, seven top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.3 · Average Running Position of 7.9, third-best · Driver Rating of 110.0, third-best · 458 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 854 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.658 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 6,617 Laps in the Top 15 (91.7%) · Series-high 613 Quality Passes
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet) · Three wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.3 · Average Running Position of 16.2, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 88.5, 10th-best · 274 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.232 mph, 11th-fastest
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.0 · Driver Rating of 86.8, 11th-best · 341 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 923 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 4,088 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7%), 12th-most · 433 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.4 · Average Running Position of 11.7, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, eighth-best · 921 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · 5,419 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), third-most · 550 Quality Passes, second-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s · Average finish of 10.6 · Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 96.5, fifth-best · 276 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 875 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.498 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,755 Laps in the Top 15 (69.8%), sixth-most · 462 Quality Passes, fifth-most