NASCAR: Kyle Busch Tames "The Lady In Black"
The Sprint Cup Series was in Darlington, S.C., on Saturday night for the Dodge Charger 500.
Greg Biffle started from the pole, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. alongside in second. Biffle set a new qualifying record by going 7 mph faster than the old record held by Ward Burton. This is due to the new track surface that was put down after last year's race.
Biffle led the first lap of the race but was passed by Earnhardt Jr. on the second lap. It didn't take long before the first caution flag of the race flew. The caution came out for an incident between Stewart and Sadler on Lap 2. Stewart would continue, but Sadler would go to the garage for repairs.
Shortly after the first yellow flag, another caution would come out on Lap 12 for Sam Hornish pounding the wall in Turn 3. The leaders would stay out but some of the cars at the back of the field came to pit road for adjustments.
The race went back to green with Biffle still the leader. Kyle Busch took the lead from Biffle on Lap 17 and drive away from the rest of the field. Biffle caught up to Busch when he started to lap cars. Biffle took the lead back on lap 40.
The leaders had to make green flag pit stops around Lap 57 for fuel and tire. During the exchange of pit stops JJ Yeley, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Patrick Carpentier, Kasey Kahne, and David Gilliland all led laps before making their pit stops. When pit stops were concluded, Kyle Busch emerged as the leader once again.
Busch continued to lead until Lap 110 when Biffle took the lead back. Another set of green flag stops started around Lap 115 with Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, and Carpentier all leading laps before making their pit stops. Biffle came out leading the race after pit stops concluded with Busch hot on his tail.
Busch once again raced dirty and knocked Biffle out of the way to take the lead back on Lap 128. Biffle made a great save and continued in second place.
The race had been under the green flag for 126 laps before a caution flag slowed the field for debris on lap 140. All the leaders came down pit road with Earnhardt Jr. coming off in first with a two-tire change. Busch had to start from the rear of the field because of a loose lugnut on pit road.
The race stayed green for a handful of laps before the fourth caution of the race flew for a hard hit into the wall by Kevin Harvick. The race restarted with a quick lead change as Biffle took the lead back from Jr. on Lap 160.
Another round of green flag stops took place around Lap 200 of the race. Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, and David Ragan all led laps before coming to pit road for service. Biffle regained the lead after pit stops on Lap 212.
Unfortunately for Biffle, his race came to an end on Lap 236 when he had mechanical problems. This allowed everyone to hit pit road again with Hamlin coming out first.
Shortly after the restart, another caution came out on Lap 248 for Brian Vickers. Most of the leaders came to pit road but seven drivers stayed out: Gordon, Earnhardt, Johnson, Blaney, Kurt Busch, Edwards, and Kvapil.
Gordon led until Kyle Busch took the lead with 97 laps to go. He had worked his way back to the front after his pit road infraction on Lap 140 of the race.
Busch was the leader when a caution flag came out with 88 laps to go for debris. All the leaders made pit stops with Gordon coming out first.
Gordon's lead would be short lived as Busch passed him with 82 laps remaining. The last caution of the race came out when Hamlin spun off the front bumper of Martin Truex. The leaders came down pit road for their final stops, with Busch holding serve as the leader.
The race stayed green until the checkered flag, with Kyle Busch leading the whole way. Busch dominated the final half of the race after Biffle dropped out. It was Busch's third win of the season and his first at Darlington.
The top ten finishers were Busch, Edwards, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Ragan, Kenseth, Hamlin, Kvapil, Blaney, and Burton. Some notable finishes were Johnson in 13th, Bobby Labonte in 18th, and Tony Stewart in 21st position. Stewart fought all night to correct his handling problems after his lLap 2 crash.
Some impressive runs were made by Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil to finish in the Top Ten. Both had run in the Top Ten all night long as well as the Top Five at times.
The top 12 in the point standings are Busch, Burton, Earnhardt, Hamlin, Bowyer, Johnson, Edwards, Stewart, Harvick, Gordon, Biffle, and Ragan. These drivers would be in the chase if things ended right now.
Some big name drivers need to step it up if they want to compete for the championship after 26 races. Names such as Kenseth, Newman, Labonte, Truex, Kurt Busch, and Kahne have some work to do.
Darlington is now in the history books and we can all look forward to the All-Star Race in Charlotte, N.C., next weekend.
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