Kurt Busch stepped into brother Kyle's shoes by winning round four of the 2009 Sprint Cup, succeeding his younger sibling as both the latest winner in the series and as victor in Atlanta.

Starting from the outside of round one, Busch clearly had the best car on track as he led 235 of the eventual 330 laps as the race finished under NASCAR's green-white-chequered 'overdrive' system - but had to work for the victory after being beaten off pit-road at the eleventh and final caution.

Having passed points leader Jeff Gordon and headed into the final 50 laps at the head of the train, Busch's biggest concern was whether he had enough fuel in the notoriously thirsty #2 Miller Lite Dodge to hold off the ever-present threat of Red Bull Toyota's Brian Vickers.

However, just as the #83 crew was telling its driver that he may have a shot at the win, Robby Gordon blew a tyre, shedding rubber on the homestretch and bringing out the yellows with four to run.

Busch, who had earlier survived a brush with the wall, was forced to pit for fuel, and opted for four new tyres, as did Vickers, but both were beaten off pit-road by Carl Edwards, whose two-tyre stop vaulted him to the lead from deep into the top ten.

The AFLAC Ford was no match for Busch, however, and the #2 was back in front by turn three at the restart. Edwards also succumbed to Gordon's #24 Chevy, but the points leader had nothing for the royal blue Dodge out front, as Roger Penske's team snatched its second Atlanta win, and Busch the 19th of his career.

"Good things come to those who wait," said the race winner, after running a victory lap in reverse around the 1.54-mile speedway, "We waited over a year-and-a-half with this CoT to find a good package, and we've had that to start off 2009."

This is the second year in a row that the Busch brothers have won back-to-back races, as Kyle won 22 June 2008 at Infineon and Kurt won the next week at New Hampshire - before Kyle then kept the family in victory lane with wins in the next two races, at Daytona and Chicago.

"That's neat," Busch said of the back-to-back wins, after also following his brother's win in Atlanta in 2008, "I've got to hold my end of the bargain, because Kyle's on the gas right now. I've got to thank guys like Carl for racing me clean at the end, and Jeff Gordon was strong all day.

"When you beat those two kinds of guys here at Atlanta - especially on a day when it reminded me of Darlington... This place will just chew you up and spit you out, and we had the handle."

Busch led six times for 234 laps, 70 more than he led the entire 2008 season.

Gordon also passed Edwards on lap 329 and finished second, trailing Busch to the finish line by 0.332secs, extending his lead in the point standings to 43 over Clint Bowyer, who ran sixth in Atlanta, despite having to overcome a clutch problem to nail down the runner-up finish.

"We were fast," the four-time champion noted, "We keep having little issues that keep popping up that we have to overcome - last week with the fender [at Las Vegas], this week with the clutch - but this [pit crew] are just flawless, they're just not skipping a beat.

"We're going to win races. We're getting close. That was a heck of a battle there for second - I had a lot of fun. We'll keep knocking on the door until we get into victory lane."

Having been able to pull away from the pack, Edwards held on for third, despite a brief moment while battling Gordon, and gained five positions, to fourth, in points. Kevin Harvick and the hapless Vickers both gained a place in the two-lap shootout to finish fourth and fifth respectively, despite both falling off the lead lap when the third caution of the race trapped them during a cycle of green-flag pit stops.

The man to miss out was Martin Truex Jr who, like Edwards, had opted for just two tyres at the final stop. The #1 Chevy - whose driver had had to pass a kidney stone in a local ER on Saturday night - dropped from fourth at the restart to tenth, also losing out to Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. Kahne and Stewart also regained lost laps.

Daytona winner Matt Kenseth had appeared on course for a return to the top ten, only to have to pit while pit-road was closed at the final caution and being classified twelfth, one behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt was lapped twice, but used two 'lucky dogs' to return to the lead lap. Denny Hamlin, Kahne, Harvick, Stewart, Kenseth and Jeff Burton also took advantage of one free pass each. Kyle Busch, for the record, was a lowly 18th...

Jimmy Watts, gas man for the #47 Toyota of Marcos Ambrose, threw a monkey wrench into the entire proceedings on lap 68, when he chased a runaway tyre into the grass of the quad-oval below the frontstretch grandstands. NASCAR called a caution for safety reasons and interrupted a cycle of green-flag stops, trapping the majority of the field a lap down.

When Johnson restarted in the lead on lap 74, Bowyer, Truex, Edwards and Busch were the only lead-lap cars lined up behind him, while nine others, including Gordon, Vickers, Hamlin and Earnhardt Jr took the green ahead of Johnson on the tail end of the lead lap. After retrieving the wandering tire and causing the third caution, Watts was suspended for the remainder of the race. Ambrose, meanwhile, had an engine failure on lap 179, and posted his first failure to finish in four races this season.



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