Kurt Busch Brings Home Dominating Win at RIR

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Several times this year Kurt Busch had been leading, or in position to win a race, but was unable to seal the deal.

There was Fontana, when a debris caution thwarted his hopes. Then there was Bristol, when he had a strong car that could drive through the field, but got mired back in the pack and was victim of a crash and a 15th place finish.

However, Busch would not be denied on Sunday, leading 291 of 400 laps, bringing home a dominating win in the TOYOTA OWNERS 400, which also earned him the coveted win sticker, securing a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

“We’re winners in April,” Busch said in the RIR media center on Sunday after a lengthy and well-earned celebration in Victory Lane.  “Plenty of time to get stronger, learn from all these races coming up and continue to go forward and like Gene Haas said, one win is great; I want four or five more.”

The win was Busch’s 26th Sprint Cup win and second win at RIR. The first was in 2005.

The dark clouds and rain that forced the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 to be moved from Saturday night cleared on Sunday and race fans were able to enjoy the show under sunshine and blue skies.

Joey Logano started on the pole and led the first 94 laps, before Busch was able to track him down and pass for the lead.  From there, he set sail in front of the field until caution waved on Lap 127.

After winning the race off pit road and asserting his lead on the next restart, Busch wasn’t challenged until Jamie McMurray, who powered through the field on the long runs, was able to track down the Stewart-Haas driver and took the lead momentarily during green flag pit stops, just to have Busch take it back on the ensuing restart after caution flew during those stops, causing 19 cars to take the wave-around.

“We had a really good car after 40 or 50 laps,” he said.  “Really for us to have a shot at winning, we had to have a long green-flag run at the end.”

Busch also recognized that McMurray was more of a long-term threat.

“I had (McMurray) in the long-run box,” he said.  “So, he would have come into play if we were on a set of tires for 70 laps, and once we crested into 40 laps to go, I didn’t think he would be much of a player.”

The long green-flag run never came, as caution flew three times within the last 50 laps.  Busch was able to check out on each restart, leaving McMurray and the rest of the field behind.

Busch’s teammate Kevin Harvick passed McMurray for second, but wasn’t able to run down Busch in the closing laps.

Harvick finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third after starting deep in the field, McMurray was fourth and Logano finished fifth.

Not only does the win cement Busch’s place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but also erases the ghosts of his could-have, would-have races.

“I felt ready for anything today,” he said.  “I was not going to relax until I drove home with the checkered flag.  I was like, wow, this is that feeling I’ve been looking for, and it was because I put so much effort into making sure nothing was going to get in our way today.”

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