NEXTEL 3M Performance 400Final
Kurt Busch wins NASCAR Nextel 3M Performance 400Aug 21, 2007 - 7:26 PM BROOKLYN, Michigan (Ticker) -- After waiting out a two-day rain delay, Kurt Busch finally won the NASCAR Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday.
It was Busch's second win of the season and 17th career. In a Dodge Charger, the Las Vegas native held off the hard-charging Chevrolet Monte Carlo of Martin Truex Jr. during a green/white/checkered finish on the two-mile oval.
Busch has now won two of the past three races, also taking the checkered flag at Pocono two weeks ago, improving his chances on qualifying for the "Chase for the Championship." The 2004 Nextel Cup champion sits in the 12th and final spot for the Chase, 163 points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. with three races remaining before the first playoff race at New Hampshire.
"I've got to thank the fans who stuck it out on a Tuesday to see a green/white/checker," said Busch, who led a race-high 92 laps and averaged 117.044 miles per hour. "We put it on for them here at the end with all the restarts and all of the guys on different strategy. It really was a tough, hard-fought win."
Truex qualified 14th, but was forced to drop to the rear of the field after changing engines prior to the race.
"I wanted it so bad I could taste it back there behind Kurt," said Truex, who sits in 11th place, 33 points ahead of Busch. "I felt like last time we probably had the car to beat. This time, we didn't. This time, we had good strategy and a good car there at the end."
Earnhardt had his Chevrolet in the top-five late in the race, but missed his pit box on lap 168 and wound up finishing 12th.
"I made a mistake on that pit stop late in the race and that probably cost us about five spots," said Earnhardt, who also had to start at the rear of the field alongside teammate Truex after a transmission change. "But we ran good, came from the back, passing cars and racing everybody. That was fun."
Reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson was third in a Chevrolet, followed by the Ford Fusion of Matt Kenseth. Denny Hamlin's Chevrolet rounded out the top five.
Points leader Jeff Gordon, who has already clinched a spot in the Chase, spun out with 11 laps remaining after contact with Kenseth and finished 27th. Gordon's Chevrolet needed help from safety officials to get out of the wet infield grass.
Continuous rain forced NASCAR to postpone the race until Tuesday.
The race was originally scheduled for Sunday, but persistent rain forced the postponement to Monday. Efforts by track officials to dry the surface on Monday during a dry period proved fruitless as rain began falling again.
The last Cup race to be postponed on consecutive days was the 1997 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Originally scheduled for Sunday, April 27, rain forced postponement until Monday. Then more showers forced NASCAR officials to reschedule the race for the following week.
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