By: Drew Hierwarter
There’s an old racing adage that Kurt Busch reminded us of in victory lane Sunday after winning the “Lenox Industrial Tools 301” NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.” And that certainly was the case for the driver of the Penske Racing #2 Dodge. Busch hasn’t won since August of 2007 in Michigan and, except for a second place finish in the Daytona 500, hasn’t exactly been the most competitive car on the circuit this year. Up to this point in the season, Busch has only one other top five finish and he’s spent most of the time mired in the twenty-something area of the points.
Sunday, with 30 laps to go it looked like this would be another race with no chance for the Miller Lite Dodge to win. That’s when the race’s sixth, and most unusual caution flag came out. As Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was coming to pit road, Jamie McMurray, still traveling at full speed, apparently didn’t see him and plowed into the back of the slowing #88. That’s when Pat Tryson, Busch’s crew chief made the call;
“We topped off the fuel [on Lap 218] and were pretty close to making it to the end. We were hoping for some cautions, we got them, and I told Kurt that we were going to stay on the racetrack and take a gamble.”
Nine other lead lap cars stayed out with Busch, while all of the front runners came to pit road for at least a splash of fuel. The race resumed for only one lap when the caution flew again and then it rained. Lightning flashed and a violent thunder storm rolled in and settled over the speedway and that was that. NASCAR officials called the race with 23 laps remaining in the scheduled distance.
“We weren’t the fastest car, and we didn’t deserve to win,” Busch said; “but the record book will show that we won the Lenox 301,”
Kurt Busch got lucky and so did Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yealy, and Elliot Sadler, all of whom got their best finish of the season.
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After the tragic events of last weekend’s NHRA race it was good for all of the competitors to get back to business as usual at the “Summit Racing Equipment Nationals” in Norwalk,
“It’s such an emotional day, and I’m just happy to get the job done. Going up there I knew I was going to dig down and give it everything I had. I just wanted to do everything I could do to beat [Bernstein] because I didn’t want to have a mistake that I made cost us the race. Luckily, I have my little lucky charm [daughter Jessie] with me, and we did a lot of thinking about her brothers today, and I’m sure they were riding with me on that final-round win.”
Tony Pedregon gave notice that he was still a factor for the championship when he defeated a dominant Robert Hight in the Funny Car finale. And Greg Anderson put down Larry Morgan to claim the 55th Pro Stock title of his career.
The victory speeches for all three drivers were heavy with emotion as they all dedicated their wins to the Kalitta family and the memory of Scott Kalitta.