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Kurt Busch edges McMurray in Coca-Cola 600

31 May 2010

Call it Roger's revenge.

Kurt Busch won Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 for team owner Roger Penske, spoiling a dream day for rival owner Chip Ganassi, who started Sunday off with Dario Franchitti's victory in the Indianapolis 500.

Busch crossed the finish line .737 seconds ahead of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray to complete a sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte—last Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race and Sunday's 600.

The victory was Busch's second of the season and the 22nd of his career. He is the seventh driver to win both Charlotte races during May speedweeks, and his victory prevented Ganassi from winning the IndyCar Series' most prestigious race and NASCAR's longest on the same day.

Kyle Busch finished third, followed by Mark Martin and David Reutimann. Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, polesitter Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth completed the top 10.

In victory lane, Kurt Busch dedicated the win to Penske.

"I thought about that Ganassi car behind us," Busch said. "He wasn't going to get by us."

Because the race started in sunlight and ended under the lights, Busch was worried about changing track conditions.

"This was a race for the ages," Busch said. "To have a car as good as it was in the daytime, I was afraid of it at night. I didn't know if it was going to be able to give me the handling like it had early on in the race. And it played out in our favor.

"I'm speechless with the fact that we swept both races. … McMurray kept us honest. He was right there at the end. It wasn't like we faded back into the pack. He just separated himself from the pack and came and got us. He taught me a couple things about my line. I needed to adjust it, and it helped us stay out in front of him at the end."

McMurray, who gave Ganassi the first leg of the unprecedented Daytona 500/Indy 500 double, finished second for the third time in the last five races.

The difference was the final pit stop. McMurray had a lead of more than two seconds when Marcos Ambrose crashed off Turn 2 on Lap 377 of 400. Kurt Busch and Kenseth beat McMurray out of the pits after two-tire stops for all three drivers.

Because Gordon, Martin and Newman stayed on the track during the caution, McMurray restarted sixth on Lap 382. By the time the cars got back to the line, Busch and McMurray were running 1-2 and quickly separated themselves from the cars behind them.

McMurray was closing at the end of the race but ran out of time.

"I knew that whoever came out ahead on that last pit stop between Kurt and I—if somebody didn't screw up—that would be the race winner," McMurray said. "It would take me too many laps to run Kurt back down, and then when you get within 10 or 12 car-lengths, you just stall out.

"I just didn't have enough time at the end."

One short sequence hobbled the cars of three championship contenders. On Lap 167, four-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson slid sideways off Turn 4, tapping the outside wall with the right rear of his No. 48 Chevrolet.

Johnson's spin forced Denny Hamlin to take evasive action, damaging the front splitter of the No. 11 Toyota as Hamlin rolled through the infield grass. Under caution for Johnson's spin, Kyle Busch, who came to the pits with the lead, collided with Brad Keselowski on pit road, damaging both cars.

In Johnson's case, the spin was the least of his troubles. On Lap 273, Johnson spun off Turn 2 and slammed nose-first into the inside wall. He returned to the track on Lap 306 after extensive repairs to his Chevy and finished 37th.

Kyle Busch recovered from his troubles to run third, but his comeback wasn't without incident. An angry Jeff Burton confronted Busch on pit road after the race. Burton took issue with Busch for late contact between their cars, which resulted in a cut left rear tire on Burton's Chevy and turned a promising run into a 25th-place finish.

"I like racing with Kyle—I really do," Burton said. "I enjoy it, but when he gets overaggressive and I pay the price for it, I won't tolerate it. I'm just not going to put up with it. I don't mind racing with him. I don't mind him being aggressive, but I'm not going to be the victim of his aggressiveness. I'm just not going to put up with it."

Busch had a measured response to Burton's criticism.

"I said, 'Look, man, last restart of the race. You have to go, make some bold moves. It wasn't me that made it three-wide, it was your teammate (Clint Bowyer). Have a chat with him,' " Busch said. "I would be more than happy to sit with Jeff Burton and talk with him about it and for him to point (it) out on a replay to me."


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