SPRINT Centurion Boats at The GlenFinal
Kyle Busch wins at Watkins GlenAug 10, 2008 - 11:55 PM WATKINS GLEN, New York (Ticker) -- Kyle Busch remained king of the road.
Busch became the first drive in NASCAR history to win three road course races in one season Sunday as he claimed the Centurion Boats at the Glen.
The series points leader, Bush swept both road races this season, also winning at Infineon Raceway in California in June. More importantly, he clinched a spot in the 10-race "Chase for the Championship."
Busch has won 16 times overall in NASCAR's top three series this year with eight in the Sprint Cup, six in the Nationwide and two in trucks. One of the Nationwide wins came on a road course in Mexico.
"That's pretty neat, pretty special to me," said Busch, who finished second Saturday in the Nationwide race here. "To be a force to be reckoned with means a lot. This year has just been phenomenal. It's just crazy."
It also was the 12th career Sprint win for Busch, who had finished 15th and 36th in his last two races, causing former Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to say they saw a weakness in the No. 18 team.
"I'm sorry, what slump?" Busch said on his radio after crossing the finish line. "They can keep trying to play these mind games. We'll just keep winning."
Busch had little trouble maneuvering the 2.45-mile track, leading for 52 of the 90 laps in his Toyota. He led on four different occasions, moving to the front for good after Dale Earnhardt Jr. pitted on lap 65 for new tires.
The jaunt to Victory Lane for Busch was delayed after a wicked nine-car crash on lap 83 led to the race being red-flagged for nearly an hour. The wreck sent Bobby Labonte to the hospital.
Busch held off Joe Gibbs teammate Tony Stewart, who who was bidding to win here for the fifth time in the last seven years.
"Kyle ran an awesome race today," said Stewart, who is leaving JGR at the end of the season to drive for his own team. "He never made a mistake today, and he was fast in all the right spots.
"I can't be disappointed with a second-place finish to a teammate like that. He's been on fire this year. ... You'd cut off one of your legs almost to have the kind of year he's having."
With his latest triumph, Busch increased his lead in the standings to 246 points over Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson is 248 points back, followed by Earnhardt at 269 behind.
Marcos Ambrose, the winner of Saturday's Nationwide Race, placed third despite the Tasmanian starting last in the 43-car field.
Rounding out the top five were Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr.
Gordon, a four-time winner at Watkins Glen, figured to be a strong contender. However, he faded after a strong start and finished 29th. One positive was that he remained sixth in the standings.
Earnhardt Jr., who was bidding to win on a road course for the first time, also fell out of contention and finished 22nd after leading for 33 laps.
Starting from the pole for the fifth time this season, Busch stayed in front for much of the afternoon on the 11-turn course. He did allow Stewart to pass him on lap 54 so Stewart could collect five points for leading, but he quickly regained the top spot when Stewart slid over on the next lap.
One lap later, Busch and Stewart each pitted for the final time. Earnhardt Jr. remained on the course before pitting on lap 65 under caution, a move that cost him position.
The late wreck occurred when Michael McDowell and David Gilliland collided exiting the final turn, sending cars careening into the narrow straightaway. Gilliland absorbed two big hits, one from the car of Joe Nemechek and another from Labonte's Dodge.
Labonte was taken by ground to a hospital in Elmira, New York, according to members of his Petty Enterprises organization.
"They think he's OK," team vice president Robbie Loomis said. "He's a little sore. That was a heck of a wreck."
Following the accident, Gilliland, Dave Blaney and Max Papis were each examined and released from the track's infield care center.
"It was crazy," Papis said. "We came out of the last corner, somebody pushed me in the back, the next thing I saw was kind of a black car in the middle smashed from the back to the side. Then my car was destroyed.
"I know when it comes down to (seven) to go, you need to get up to the wheel and push hard. But that was too much, I think."