The Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway was delayed from Saturday night until Sunday due to rain, but once the race finally got under way, it was clear Kurt Busch was the class of the field. The Stewart-Haas racing driver led 291 of 400 laps throughout the race, breaking a 35-race winless streak and driving to his first win since Martinsville last March.
Few would have predicted that Busch would be standing in victory lane this soon after being suspended by NASCAR on February 20 for allegedly committing an act of domestic violence against now-ex girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. Busch’s season was in trouble after he was forced to sit three races out over the allegations, but now that he’s locked in an early spot in the chase for the Sprint Cup, it should be smooth sailing for Busch from here on out.
Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS looked especially fast all weekend, with many predicting the No. 41 car would be a strong contender come race time. He moved into the lead on Lap 94 and stayed at the front of the pack for much of the race’s remainder, but his race wasn’t without its woes.
Somewhat surprisingly, Busch’s biggest threat Sunday was Jamie McMurray. He and the No. 1 pressed Busch for much of the race but were never able to pass. McMurray faltered on the race’s final restart and forfeited his second place position to Kevin Harvick. McMurray would eventually also get passed by Jimmie Johnson and turn up fourth.
Other Team Chevy drivers in the top ten included Kasey Kahne in sixth, Jeff Gordon in eighth and Martin Truex Jr. in tenth. Busch’s Stewart-Haas racing teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart were less successful, with Patrick finishing 25th after nearly getting spun early on and Stewart crashing out late in the race.
NASCAR heads to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the Geico 500. Busch, who says he’s looking for more wins this year, will likely be a strong contender in the race along with defending winner Denny Hamlin and six-time Talladega champ Jeff Gordon.