Kyle Busch again victorious much to the dismay of fans
By: By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Kyle Busch eggs on the jeering pre-race crowd in his role as NASCAR’s latest “Bad Boy.” The usual noise he hears after races this year are the sounds of celebration. Busch can tune out those boos when a crew is whooping it up, confetti is falling all over him and victory drinks are spraying in his direction. No matter the series, the track or crowd reaction, nothing has slowed down Busch this season. Busch led the way again, dominating the second half of the 400-mile race Sunday at Dover International Speedway and charging to his Sprint Cup series-best fourth win of the season — and 10th overall. “That darned 18 car got us again,” said runner-up Carl Edwards. Sure did, but it’s really no surprise. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won for the third time in the last five Cup races, earned his fifth straight top-three finish and hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 in the last seven races. Busch made it 10 victories total this season, including two in the Craftsman Truck Series and four in the Nationwide Series. “I’ve found something that’s worked for me recently,” said Busch, rattling off his list of successes. Team owner Joe Gibbs was in the middle of the celebration on pit road while Busch took a bow from his No. 18 Toyota and saluted his crew. Busch gave all the credit to his pit crew, winning with what he called a third-place car. “I think Kyle’s being modest,” Edwards said. “I think that last run, his car was the best car.” Busch increased his points lead from 94 to 142 over second-place Jeff Burton after a race where the standings underwent a shake up because an early race wreck took out several contenders. Roush Fenway Racing teammates Edwards and Greg Biffle were second and third in the Best Buy 400. Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. Edwards thought he had the best car early, but couldn’t catch Busch once he opened a big lead. “Every time I passed him, he was working as hard as a guy could work in that car,” Edwards said. “I could see it. So I think it all just worked out the best case for him and the worst case for us.” Busch, Biffle and Edwards were lucky to be out front and miss the 10-car wreck early in the race that wiped out five of the top-eight in the points standings. Elliott Sadler was turned into the wall and his No. 19 Dodge was smashed into by Tony Stewart’s No. 20 car, triggering a massive pile up that put several cars in the garage and ended all hope of contention. Denny Hamlin was knocked out of the race, and Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer all returned later with their cars either missing a hood, a fender or running 100-plus laps behind. But they didn’t want to quit and give up a shot at earning needed points, even if all the best drivers could do was run slow and try and stay out of the way of the leaders. Kasey Kahne also had his car damaged in the accident and finished 31st after winning last week. Hamlin suffered the most in the standings, dropping from fourth to ninth. Boyer, Harvick and Stewart all fell three spots. Biffle rocketed from 11th — one spot away from the Chase cutoff — to fifth in the standings. Stewart took the blame for running too close to Sadler. Stewart lost his chance at victory last week at Charlotte after the No. 20 Toyota got a flat tire with three laps left. “Unfortunately, adversity is our motto here at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Stewart said. Well, unless you’re on Kyle Busch’s team. Busch heard the familiar boos during pre-race introductions, which have cemented his status as NASCAR’s least-popular driver. He has some fun in the role and seems to have accepted the fact he’s the driver the fans love to hate. “I want to thank all the fans even if they’re not Kyle Busch fans,” he said. Gibbs, though, thought Busch had been humbled since making the move from Hendrick Motorsports. The former Redskins coach talked about Busch spending time recently with underprivileged kids at a theme park and trying to be a positive role model. “I thought that was an awesome day where these little guys were following him around,” Gibbs said. Gibbs sure didn’t paint the picture of Busch as a villain. Biffle, the pole sitter, led 99 of the first 100 laps and was cruising until his car had some issues that quickly dropped him off the pace. Busch didn’t take the lead for the first time until the 150th lap on the 1-mile concrete track. He led 158 laps. “In the end, he got his car right and was able to drive off,” Biffle said. Busch even got his race helmet back after a fan sneaked in the garage area Friday night and tried to steal it. Someone saw the act, security caught the man and returned the helmet to Busch. “It’s not a lucky helmet or any of that,” Busch said. Gibbs interjected. “On second thought, it might be a lucky helmet,” he said, laughing.