|Kyle Busch showed he still has it at Richmond (Getty)|
Losing sight of Tony Stewart's Chevrolet as the race wound down at Richmond International Raceway, Busch caught a break on lap 388 when debris brought only the fifth yellow of the night. He took advantage by beating Stewart off pit road for the lead on lap 388 before holding off Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the final restart for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season, ending a 22-race drought dating back to last season.
"No catching Stewart without that caution," Busch admitted.
"I kept trying and staying with (Stewart) there early in that run to get him the pressure and use up his tires a little bit," added Busch, who led twice for 32 laps for his fourth consecutive spring victory at Richmond.
"And I could see him doing some of that, but then my car just started getting a little bit too tight in the center and a little bit too loose off where I started losing ground, and once I about couldn't see him anymore, I figured, OK, I'm going to save what I've got here and just try to make it to the end here."
The win capped a successful weekend that included his first triumph as a Nationwide Series owner on Friday night, when older brother Kurt drove a Toyota Camry to the win in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.
But mostly, it put a bow on a wild final 100 laps featuring a controversial restart that remained the talk of the garage afterward. Carl Edwards, whose No. 99 Ford led a race-high 206 laps after starting second, got a big jump on the lap 319 restart that NASCAR officials quickly determined was too soon and way ahead of Stewart, the actual race leader.
Edwards contended that he was the race leader based on the scoring tower and radio communication with NASCAR, but the sanctioning body said it was Stewart that should have led the field to green and hit Edwards with a drive-through penalty that dropped him to 15th and out of the running.
"Right before that start my spotter (Jason Hedlesky) was told by NASCAR officials that the 99 was the leader," he said. "Jason told me and I had a split second to decide what I was going to do. I thought, 'OK, NASCAR made a mistake and they lined us up wrong.'
"It looked like Tony waited or spun his tires so they black-flagged me."
Stewart, meanwhile, thought he was the leader and lined up on the inside as a esult. That moment became moot when he yielded the lead to Busch and faded after the restart, but he was clear about the restart.
"We were the first one to line up, and we were the leader on the board," said Stewart, who led four times for 118 laps. "So I don't know how much clearer it could be that we were the leader. If that was the case then they should have put the caution out and given (Edwards) the opportunity to choose the lane that he wanted. It's a miscommunication between upstairs and the drivers."
But the incident typified a weird sequence that began on lap 305 with green flag pit stops. As Busch was pitting with the lead, Jeff Burton hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4 to bring the fourth caution and Edwards was slamming the brakes hard on his Ford to avoid speeding on to pit road and drawing a penalty, pushing him past the entry point.
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