Busch Wins Again Taking 400

JOLIET, Ill. (July 12, 2008) – Kyle Busch almost gave up on any chance of winning Saturday night’s LifeLock 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway after Jimmie Johnson took the lead on lap 251. But a caution period with four laps to run gave Busch the chance to pass Johnson on the restart and win his seventh Cup race of the season in his M&M’s Joe Gibbs Toyota.

“Typically, last year, whenever we saw Jimmie Johnson coming with about 100 (laps) to go, and he’d take the lead, I’d go, ‘race over’ and he’d go on to win. I think this was the first time I said that and Jimmie Johnson didn’t win. Sometimes things change and you never give up in this sport,” noted Busch, who won Friday’s Nationwide Series race at the track and was on the pole for the Sprint Cup event.

What has changed from the past is that Busch has moved to the Gibbs/Toyota team after several seasons as a teammate to Johnson in Hendrick Chevrolets. That, and perhaps a more patient Busch who can use the resources that the team gives him and still find a way to win without wrecking.
“I don’t know (how he passed Johnson),” admitted a surprised Johnson about his pass on the restart with two laps to go.

“Jimmie was going to bring us down slow. I remember this from short track days when somebody was in your mirror and you creep up on them I pushed Jimmie to go and that was the saving grace right there was a good restart. When he went to the bottom through (turns) 1-2 I figured the outside’s open so that’s where I went. If he had gone to the outside then I was going to go to the bottom. I didn’t think my car had the momentum and would stay free to get up along side of him but somehow it did,” said Busch, who seemed as surprised as Johnson.”

“I should have given him the inside on the restart. For a two-lap shootout, the outside always wins. I didn’t make the best decision there on the restart,” admitted Johnson who had led for 15 laps before the decisive final caution. “He got to the outside of me there and got a good run. I should know better. I should have given him the bottom and been a little smarter with that,” said the defending Sprint Cup champ.

Waiting in third place to take advantage of any slip by the leaders was Kevin Harvick who didn’t lead all night, but came from 13th starting spot to be in position to win if something happened to the leaders. “I thought I might be in the right spot there coming into the last corner but just came up a little short. I thought the No. 48 (Johnson’s Lowe’s Chevrolet) was the dominant car and Kyle kind of bonsai-ed him to the outside and it kind of stuck and just pinched Jimmie off the corner and killed his momentum and was able to keep going, ” said Harvick who feels that his RCR Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet is improving recently. “We don’t ever give up until it’s over. It’s very easy to get loose underneath somebody or something happens so you go as hard as you can. I thought we might sneak one right there.”

Tony Stewart, who has been the week’s headline-maker with his announcement of his plans to change teams in 2009, finished fifth, as he fought handling problems that kept him from being a threat to the leaders. “We weren’t bad. We just got in a situation where we got free there the last couple of runs and that’s when we needed to be really good. We just fought being loose,” said the winners Gibbs/Toyota teammate who is winless in 2008 Cup races while he watches Busch win regularly. “It’s pretty simple, you look at the top of the board and there he’s winning races. We ran with him the majority of the day; we just lost the handle at the end.”

Greg Biffle was fourth in his 3M Roush Fenway Ford, followed by Stewart, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan who were both in Roush Fenway Fords.
Kenseth, who also hasn’t won in 2008, suffered a flat tire at about the half-way mark of the race and spent the rest of the race trying to get his lost lap back. ” These (COT) cars are tough to pass with. They just get so tight. We just had that flat tire and there was a lot of green-flag running, and it took us a long time to get our lap back. We just ran out of time. Before our flat we were running side-by-side with the 18 car (Busch), and he ended up winning the race. But we could run with those guys.”

Busch averaged 133.996 MPH, winning the race by 0.159 seconds over Johnson. There were 9 cautions for 33 laps, while 10 drivers exchanged the lead 16 times.

Busch admitted after the race that his night was about over had he not had the final caution to get past Johnson. ” Sometimes it’s better to be good than lucky, and sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” the winner opined. “Tonight we were a little of both.”

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