Caution periods ruined the final laps of Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway but they probably didn't affect the identity of the winner as Kurt Busch dominated the 20th round of the 2005 season.
From the outside of the front row, Busch stated his intent early on in the 200-lap race around Pocono's bumpy, triangle-shaped oval leading all but a handful of the opening 100 laps and even opening up as much as a ten second advantage over his nearest rival during the longest green flag run of the day between laps 75 and 120.
Although pit strategy saw Busch shuffled back to the lower reaches of the top ten with some 70 laps to go, only when he trailed his Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin and fellow veteran Rusty Wallace between laps 140 and 180 did anybody look remotely capable of keeping Busch and the #97 team out of victory lane.
A rash of nine caution periods in the final 80 laps including one that necessitated a green-white-chequered finish, which in turn ended under caution, badly broke up the flow of the race although it did lead to some great battling for the minor placings.
Generally whoever was at the head of the field in clean air had the best car, although nobody proved that more emphatically than Busch, who finally made his way around Wallace on lap 183 and safely survived three separate restarts to earn his first win since Phoenix back in late April.
Wallace played the pit strategy well, moving from tenth to second with the aid of a two-tyre stop on lap 120 and then another some 40 laps later. With Wallace leading and Busch sixth on the lap 166 restart the Penske driver may have had a chance if the race had stayed green but with Busch passing cars and then gaining track position with every caution, it was only a mater of time before Wallace was demoted.
In the closing laps much of the interest was centred on the battle for second as Martin, who dropped from first to fifth during the final round of pit stops, fought back. The battle between Wallace and Martin could well have gone down to the final metres had the final caution not waved just as Martin seemed to be sizing up the #2 Dodge for a move going into the Tunnel turn.
Even so, third place for Martin goes a long way towards solidifying his place in the top ten in points as he stays more than 100 markers clear of tenth place.
Defending Pocono race winner Carl Edwards drove from the back of the grid to take fourth place, giving Jack Roush three of the top four finishing positions. Wallace's Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman rounded out the top five despite losing valuable ground when he cut a tyre while Kevin Harvick was the first non Roush/Penske interloper home in sixth place.
Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Mike Bliss and Ricky Rudd rounded out the top ten although for points leader Jimmie Johnson, 12th was all he could manage after being caught one lap down early and never regaining track position.
Greg Biffle suffered a late puncture and finished 17th, dropping behind Tony Stewart in the points table while both Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr failed to take advantage and finished 13th and 32nd respectively.