NASCAR » 03 October 2011
Johnson's restart slips gift Kurt the win
"It was just perfect execution today, with pit stops and with making the car better during the race," said Kurt Busch. "I couldn't be happier right now. To win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, this is what it's all about."
His arch enemy of the past few weeks, Jimmie Johnson, was left ruing those last two restarts that had cost him the win. "I did a really good job, up until those last two," Johnson said. "I blew it by spinning the tires. Kurt got a good launch, and we were door to door going into 1, and he was able to get by on the outside," he explained. "And then the next one, I was going to try to do that same thing back to him, and I was just trying to time it when he was going to accelerate. And I didn't time it right.
"I put it on me, because the starts I had earlier in the day, regardless of the lane, leading or not. I cleared them typically going into 1 so, it's on me."
Kurt Busch had also been lucky that the early dominant runner, Carl Edwards, had shot himself in the foot with that mid-race pit lane speeding penalty. "I ruined it there on pit road," Edwards said. "That's about as small as you can feel in a race car. We talked about it before the race ... Bob [Osborne, crew chief] and I actually discussed the last section [and] how I was not going to speed through it. And I just blasted right through it."
Edwards thanked his pit crew for sticking by him after his error, "Because they had every right to be really, really upset with me. So it ended up being a good finish."
Edwards' third place was enough to boost him into a share of the points lead in the Chase with Kevin Harvick, who recovered from that mid-race dip to finish in tenth place. Kurt Busch's victory was enough to put him into a share of third place with Tony Stewart, whose two-race winning streak came to an end with a bump at Dover after never overcoming a poor qualifying effort and failing to put together a setting that really worked on the concrete Monster Mile.
"Obviously the main thing that put us behind was just our qualifying effort, and just starting so far back," said crew chief Darian Grubb. "The biggest thing, though, was just that we don't have the concrete tracks figured out ... We just need to figure out what we need to do. It's not because of a lack of effort."
Jimmie Johnson - all-but written off after last weeks' race - is straight back into contention in fifth place thanks to his second place at Dover. He's just ahead of Kenseth and Keselowski in the points, but only 20pts cover the top nine Chase contenders after three races.
Falling somewhat out of contention are Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who followed up his early sway bar problem with a wheel problem that forced him into an unscheduled pit stop that dropped him to 24th place by the end), Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.
Newman - like his team mate and car owner Stewart - confessed that they just had been in bad shape all weekend. "The whole package," he replied when asked what the problem been. "Even when we got the balance halfway decent, the car didn't have speed. So we just missed it."
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