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It's another easy victory for Busch

He leads a race-high 169 of 367 laps to win NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington.

May 11, 2008|From the Associated Press

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Kyle Busch won the battle of attrition Saturday night as NASCAR's least popular driver overcame a pit-road penalty and several scrapes with the wall to win at Darlington Raceway.

Busch's third Sprint Cup Series victory of the season hardly thrilled the crowd, which booed him during pre-race introductions and hadn't eased by the time he took the checkered flag.

Already loathed by many, he enraged Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s massive fan base by wrecking him as they raced for the win last week at Richmond, Va.

It created a frenzy of hatred toward Busch, but the 23-year-old driver tuned it out and focused on what he does best: winning races.

His win at Darlington was his eighth of the season spanning NASCAR's top three series, and he has won most of them in very convincing fashion.

This one was no different, as Busch led a race-high 169 of the 367 laps in a Toyota he described early in the race as the "most pathetic" he had ever driven.

He also overcame every speed bump thrown his way on the track "Too Tough to Tame" en route to the win.

"Darlington showed again tonight it's one of the hardest places. Always has been, always will be," Busch said in Victory Lane. "We're going to go through a lot of Mac tools trying to fix this thing, but that's OK. They gave me such a race car."

An off-season repaving project smoothed the asphalt on the egg-shaped, 1.366-mile super-speedway, and the new surface gave the entire field fits.

It made the track extremely fast and grippy, forcing Goodyear to bring a sturdy tire that could handle the speeds and survive long runs.

The combination of the smooth surface, hard tires and narrow racing line put passing at a premium, and forced several drivers into the wall for the infamous "Darlington stripe."

Busch was no exception, bouncing hard off of it at least twice in what was an eventful fight to the finish.

He was leading early in the race but was penalized when his crew left a lug nut off his rear wheel after a pit stop, dropping him to 29th.

He battled his way back to the front, patiently passing Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt and finally seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon to reclaim the top position. From there, he pulled away, forcing his spotter to beg him to slow down a mere 50 laps from the finish.

But Busch isn't capable of going slow, and he stayed on the gas until the finish while stretching his Sprint Cup Series lead to 79 points over Jeff Burton.

Carl Edwards finished second and was pleased with the outcome after initially loathing the new surface.

"Kyle had the best car. He was pretty unbeatable tonight," Edwards said.

Gordon finished third.

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