STP500 Victory for Kurt Busch
In a race featuring a record-breaking 33 lead changes, Kurt Busch crossed the finish line in first place in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, beating Jimmie Johnson to the win by a mere 0.263 seconds. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took third place, followed by Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose. Six races into the 2014 season and six different NASCAR drivers have taken the checkered flag, reportedly a first in Sprint Cup history. Had Johnson won the race it would have been his ninth at the historic Martinsville Speedway, nonetheless he was in the lead for 296 of the 500 laps. While this was Busch’s 25th career victory, it was his first win driving the #41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
An earlier collision with Brad Keselowski nearly put Busch out of the running and cost Keselowski 31 laps, although he returned to the track and gained points. Following the predetermined caution on lap 40 to allow teams to check tire wear, upon leaving the pit lane Keselowski ran into Kasey Kahne as he entered the pits. At that point Keselowski reported damage to the #2 Ford, but things got worse as Kurt Busch, in attempting to pass the two cars, drove into the back of Keselowski’s car, pushing him even further into Kahne’s car. (Kahne went on to finish the race in 22nd place.) Keselowski put the blame for the damage to his car on Busch, but observers have noted that he started the incident by running into Kahne. Once back on the track, Keselowski brake-checked Busch, who retaliated by making contact, only to have Keselowski brush up against him again. In post-race interviews and on-the-spot tweets, it appears that the incident between Busch and Keselowski during the STP 500 may become an out-and-out feud.
Currently, the top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings are:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 227 points
2. Matt Kenseth – #20 Toyota – 218 points
3. Carl Edwards – #99 Ford – 217 points
4. Jeff Gordon – #24 Chevrolet – 216 points
5. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 209 points