Kyle Busch scored his second victory of the season at Talladega for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup series; it was also the third Cup win of the year for Toyota. Busch had to overcome some difficulties and come from the back with less than 70 laps to go ...
Kyle Busch scored his second victory of the season at Talladega for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup series; it was also the third Cup win of the year for Toyota. Busch had to overcome some difficulties and come from the back with less than 70 laps to go after being a lap down early in the race.
Once the Las Vegas native got back on the lead lap, he was challenging for the lead when he got together with the No. 26 of Jamie McMurray. Both drivers made great saves and Busch was able to continue to the lead, and he never looked back after that. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was also the beneficiary of some great help late in the race to propel him to the victory.
"First Jeff Gordon and then Juan Montoya. Those guys behind me were pretty awesome in helping push us, and we just kept blocking them like we needed to in order to stay up front there and stay ahead of them," said Busch. "This M&M's Toyota was strong, it wasn't as strong as we would have liked, I don't think it was as good as the (No.) 20 was today but this Toyota had enough horsepower in it to power us to the win."
The younger of the Busch brothers also closed the gap to first place in the driver standings and is now only 22 points behind first place driver, Jeff Burton. (Burton was involved in a late race incident and finished 12th after starting 38th) "I can't say enough about these guys at Joe Gibbs Racing," said Busch. "All these M&M's boys, and we really wanna thank all these fans here in Talladega as well for being here and supporting NASCAR racing and glad we were able to bring one home today."
Busch and the No. 18 Toyota team now head onto Richmond, Virginia, he has an average finish of 12.6 at short tracks.
Coming in second place was the No. 42 Dodge of Juan-Pablo Montoya, equaling his career best finish in the Cup series, and his best finish of the 2008 season. "We are getting closer, the team is doing such a good job, and the Juicy Fruit Dodge has been amazing," he said. "Just everybody at Chip Ganassi, we had a new crew chief (Jimmy Elledge) this race and first race with him. We got a good result with him, so it was nice to see that."
Montoya started the race in the 26th position and worked his way up to the front, where he stayed for most of the race. Montoya was partially the reason McMurray and Busch got together as he tried to fill a hole while Busch was blocking McMurray but continued to use his aggressive style to earn a second place finish at Talladega, where he has always run strong since making the switch from Formula One to NASCAR with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Montoya also spun around the No. 15 of Paul Menard nearing the end of the race but was able to continue on with minimal damage on the front of his car. The Columbian jumped from 17th to 12th in the driver standings and moves onto Richmond with an average finish of 21.0 at short tracks and the same venue where he had the big incident last Fall. "We just gotta keep finishing races," said Montoya. "And take advantage of races like this and run well."
Third place was the No. 11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin and he was one of the most aggressive drivers out there today. Hamlin looked to have a very strong car, being able to push cars to the lead at will but just didn't have enough to pull out the victory at the end. "If the fans didn't like that, you just don't like racing, that was amazing," Hamlin said. "Our team was just on it, the (No.) 20, the (No.) 18, the (No.) 11 were flying all day long. It seemed like anybody I got behind I could shove to the front with relative ease."
Hamlin started seventh and put together another top-five finish for the JGR team. Hamlin jumped two position to fourth in the driver standings.
Finishing fourth was second-year driver David Ragan in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Ragan started sixth and hung around the top-five all day. "It was a lot of fun, everyone would have probably liked to race back to the checker except for the (No.) 18," he said. "I was really looking forward to seeing what we could get worked out going down the back straightaway, our Triple AAA Ford was really good all day. Gotta give it to Jimmy Fennig and all the Triple AAA pit crew, got me in and out of the pits pretty good, really made my job a lot easier being up towards the front all day."
Ragan should look forward to Richmond as he finished third there during the Fall race of 2007. Ragan also climbed three positions in the driver standings and now sits 15th overall.
Rounding out the top-five was the No. 83 Toyota of Brian Vickers, grabbing his best finish of the 2008 season. Vickers also had an eventful day as he spun on pit road trying to avoid a NASCAR Official and the No. 20 of Tony Stewart.
"It was a long one, had to make it interesting," said Vickers. "The bigger mistake today is when I spun coming off pit road. I was coming out of the box and the official was standing there and was kind of far out. I guess he was trying to check both right sides of the (No.) 78. I started to dodge him and the (No.) 20 went blowing by on the right side and when I swerved to miss him I just spun out. It was really my bad, but obviously I didn't want to hit the official. I am really proud of the Red Bull Toyota guys, nobody gave up, nobody panicked."
Vickers hopped three positions in the driver standings up to 16th and has been solid all season long in the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota. "We came back from a bad situation, got a top-five, we had a shot at the win," said Vickers. "If the caution hadn't came out on the backstretch, I really believe we had a good run going there and I am just really proud of everybody, it is a good points day."
Vickers has not been strong at short tracks in his career, with 22 starts, he only has two top-tens, and an average finish of 25.9. Vickers and the No. 83 Toyota have definitely turned things around this season and continue to move forward in the pack.
Outside of the top-five, though, were incredible finishes by many regular drivers in the Sprint Cup series.
Travis Kvapil in the No. 28 Ford brought home a sixth place finish after starting 14th for today's race. The sixth place finish was the best of Kvapil's career in his third full time ride in Sprint Cup. Kvapil's previous best finish was a seventh place during the Spring Bristol race of 2005. Kvapil has been having a solid season for having limited to minimal sponsorship and moved up one position to 23rd in the driver standings.
In seventh place was the No. 5 of Casey Mears who started 36th and tied his best finish of the 2008 season. Mears needed a solid run as four of the nine races this season, he has finished worse than 22nd. Mears moved forward one position in the driver standings also, up to 24th. Mears was also the highest finishing Chevy in Sunday's race.
Eighth was Ryan Newman in the No. 12 car; he continues to show strength at superspeedways and moves to 11th in the driver standings. Ninth was the No. 07 of Clint Bowyer who started 41st for today's race and moved to seventh in the driver standings with his sixth finish of tenth or better in a row.
Behind Newman was the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was involved in a late race incident with the No. 43 of Bobby Labonte and the No. 20 of Stewart. Earnhardt Jr had to get damage repaired late in the race, restarted 28th and climbed to tenth by time the final caution flew. He stayed third in the driver standings and earned his seventh finish of tenth or better in the nine races this season in his new ride with Hendrick Motorsports.
Eleventh was the No. 7 of Robby Gordon who flew in overnight from Hungary, where he had just finished 10th in the Dakar Series off-road marathon event. Gordon moved to 28th in the driver standings as he put together a solid run for his team that has been struggling to cleanly get to the finish this season. Gordon also finished eighth in the 2008 Daytona 500 with the same car he finished 11th in today. The Daytona 500 was also his last finish of 15th or better.
Twelfth was the No. 31 of Burton and continued to hold his points lead heading into Richmond after being involved in a late race incident at Talladega. The No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson, who never really seemed to challenge for the lead all race, was 13th. Johnson only slipped one position down in the driver standings and is currently fifth.
Menard, in the No. 15, finished an impressive 14th after starting 22nd in today's race. Menard challenged for the lead multiple times and even lead a few laps during today's event. Menard scored his best finish of the season and moved up one position to 21st in the driver standings.
Fifteenth was the No. 38 of David Gilliland in his unsponsored Ford and put on an impressive drive leading many laps and coming all the way from 40th on the grid. Gilliland has been very quiet this year but currently sits 18th in the driver standings, still within closing distance of the top-12.
The No. 66 of Scott Riggs finished 16th, he needed a good run. 17th was the No. 26 of Jamie McMurray, 18th was the No. 16 of Greg Biffle, 19th was the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon, and 20th was the No. 44 of David Reutimann.
Regan Smith in the No. 01 was the highest finishing rookie in 22nd.
Kasey Kahne finished 23rd, Kevin Harvick 24th, rookie Michael McDowell 26th after being spun on the final lap.
Sub driver David Stremme in the No. 40 looked to be headed for a top-five and challenging for a win before being shuffled out at the end of the race and being involved in a late race wreck. Stremme still managed to finish though and came across the line in 28th after starting shotgun on the field in 43rd for the injured Dario Franchitti.
A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 84 finished 30th after starting fourth, and rookie Patrick Carpentier in the No. 10 struggled and finished 31st after starting 17th. The No. 21 of Jon Wood, making his first start of the season, finished 36th.
The No. of 20 Tony Stewart, who was in the lead for the majority of the race was involved in a late race incident and wound up finishing 38th after starting in the second position.
Kurt Busch finished 39th with damage, Carl Edwards finished 40th with tire issues. Matt Kenseth finished 41st with tire issues, and Ken Schrader, who did a great job getting the No. 70 in the race, finished 42nd.
The No. 41 of Reed Sorenson rounded out the final finishing position in 43rd after having engine problems taking him out of the race on lap 34.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Richmond International Raceway for a Saturday night race under the lights on May 3rd.