He may not be the most popular driver in the garage area, but his achievements this weekend prove yet again that he is definitely one of the most talented. With a dominant performance in the Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Saturday night, Kyle Busch became the first driver in NASCAR history to win in each of NASCAR's three top touring series in the same weekend.
On Wednesday, Kyle Busch charged from the back to the front in his own truck to win the Camping World Truck Series event. Friday saw him duel with Brad Keselowski in the Nationwide Series, a battle that ended when Kyle deliberately turned Keselowski in turn 4 following contact on the back straight. Saturday's performance was simply dominant. Jimmie Johnson led early from pole, but it took Kyle Busch only 172 laps to reach the lead from his 19th starting spot. From that point on, he led 288 laps, holding off charges from David Reutimann and Jamie McMurray to complete the weekend sweep.
The biggest fireworks of the night came on lap 262 when Juan Montoya hooked Jimmie Johnson on the back straight just after a restart, turning the 48 straight into the outside wall. Johnson had led 175 laps after starting on pole and looked to be on his way to a solid top 5 finish at least, but extensive repairs after the incident with Montoya relegated him to 35th. In a post-race interview, Johnson said he didn't think it was anything deliberate on Montoya's part but seemed perplexed that it had happened at all. "I thought I left him enough room," Johnson said, adding that he would have to look at the video.
Johnson wasn't the only Chase contender to struggle, as Denny Hamlin pulled his car behind the wall with a shifter problem under the same caution. Hamlin's former teammate, Tony Stewart, had a very long night after starting strong. While checking up for an early spin, he was hit by a lapped car who didn't slow down as quickly, causing extensive damage to the rear of his no. 14 Chevrolet. The damage from that run-in caused severe handling problems, which led to another wreck later in the race.
In the Race for the Chase, Clint Bowyer's 35-point advantage over Mark Martin grew to 101 as Bowyer had a strong run, finishing 5th while Martin struggled all night and could only manage a 23rd-place finish. Strong runs by Jamie McMurray (3rd) and David Reutimann (2nd) moved both drivers closer to the top 12, with McMurray passing Martin and Ryan Newman to move up from 15th to 13th in the points, 100 back of Bowyer, and Reutimann moving into 17th, 155 points shy of the bubble. With only two races left (Atlanta and Richmond), it seems unlikely that Reutimann would be able to make up 155 points on Bowyer and move up 5 spots in the points. Anything can happen, though, especially at Richmond where previous years have seen the "Action Track" live up to its name and create some serious shuffling in the points.
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