KURT BUSCH grabbed the lead from pole sitter JEFF GORDON and ran with it for the first 67 laps of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Subway Fresh 500 race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night's inaugural spring race under the lights.
He turned the races fastest lap of 130.175mph on the second lap. Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, led six times for a record-high of 219 laps. He ended his dry spell of winless races dating back to last September. This marked Busch's twelfth Cup victory. It was also the twelfth victory for Ford at PIR, the most of any manufacturer in its 18-race history. Busch is the third Roush racer this season to win a race; he won $264,000.
Kurt Busch's younger brother, KYLE BUSCH was the top finishing rookie, eighth place in the race, and is now 25th in the points. Kyle Busch also picked up the USG Improving the Finish Award for gaining 19 positions in the race. Young Busch is the rookie points leader.
MICHAEL WALTRIP drove a hard race, led twice for 23 laps and was charging after Kurt Busch for the win. He took the high line, which others say he often does, and he makes it work...most of the time. On the last lap, DEI driver, Waltrip, hit the wall three times, but said it didn't seem to make any difference. His explanation for the hits was 'I ran out of talent'.
Third place finisher, JEFF BURTON saw Waltrip bouncing off the wall, and said Waltrip hits the wall a lot. Burton chased Waltrip, but said he could see he wasn't catching him. Burton said he didn't notice the wind at all until he exited the car.
Waltrip's DEI team-mate, DALE EARNHARDT Jr finished fourth, perhaps mercifully ending the speculation, at least for now, about what is going on at DEI for the two drivers. Earnhardt and Waltrip both are visibly tired of answering questions on the subject.
BRIAN VICKERS finished fifth. BOBBY LABONTE started fourth and finished sixth, pulling him into the desired top 35 points drivers, which will guarantee him a starting spot for next weekend's Talladega race.
All cars cleared NASCAR technical inspection.
The average race speed was 102.707mph. There were 16 lead changes among nine drivers. Nine cautions took up 43 of the 312-lap race.
PIR doesn't give out attendance figures, but someone in NASCAR comes up with a crowd count. Tonight's crowd, braving the iffy weather, numbered 105,000. The grandstands were sold out of their 76,000 seats, and the hillsides and RV parking areas seemed full.
It started raining soon after the race, quickly picking up force. Monsoons are legendary in Arizona.