Kurt Busch battled with fellow Team Chevy driver Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville Speedway Sunday for his first win of this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The race marked the Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s first win since October 2011, when he piloted the No. 2 Miller-backed Dodge for Roger Penske to a first place finish at Dover International Speedway.
The finish had fans on the edges of their seats after Busch moved into first position on lap 473 of 500, but gave up the lead to Johnson 10 laps later. Busch then managed to reclaim first from Johnson on Lap 490, where he stayed for the final 11 laps of the race, securing the second win of his career at Martinsville.
“A win like today is a great step forward, but I don’t want it to camouflage any of the work we still have to do to make our car stronger and to be more competitive,” Busch told Autoweek. “Don’t think for one moment that I’m not going to enjoy this one. We’re not going to rest on this win (because) we have a long way to go. Consistency is what we’ll focus on now. That’s the battle we have in front of us. I’m up for this challenge, especially when you have all this weight lifted on your shoulders with a win so early.”
The win was an unlikely one for Busch after he and his No. 41 Chevrolet SS were involved in an incident early on with Ford driver Brad Keselowski. The former Team Penske teammates had some choice words for each other after Keselowski hit Kasey Kahne in pit road. Busch attempted to avoid Keselowski and Kahne, but ended up clipping his car, damaging the front suspension.
“I got into the back of (Kasey), but Kurt just accelerated and drove right through us, absolutely drove through us,” Keselowski told USA Today. “I’ll tell you, man, I’m about tired of his recklessness. Kurt tore the whole suspension off the car so it won’t turn or do anything. So thanks, Kurt, appreciate it, bud.”
The podium was dominated by Team Chevy drivers after the first and second place finishes from Busch and Johnson and a third place finish from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not all of The General’s drivers had such a good go of it, though. Danica Patrick qualified a season-best 10th place, but almost immediately fell backward through the midfield and finished two laps down in 32nd place.
For full results of the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, click here. The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues with the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6.