Give NASCAR credit for offseason changes
Haas pleased with Busch’s win
Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing who elected on his own to start a fourth team this season for Kurt Busch, was not present for Sunday’s victory.
Haas, who was in California, said he was surprised when Busch was able to pass Jimmie Johnson late in the race to earn the first win for the No. 41 team.
“Kurt kept his cool. He did what he had to do and no matter how he finished I thought that was going to be great,” Haas said. “Then when he went back and forth with Jimmie and he stayed out in front. I was impressed with that.
“I think Jimmie was a real gentleman about racing him cleanly and not trying to push him out of the way. I think Kurt and Jimmie both did that.”
Hamlin has an off day
Denny Hamlin, who missed last week’s race in Fontana, Calif., with vision problems, was hoping to bounce back at a track where he owns four victories.
He got off to a good start as he was fast in practice Friday and qualified second-fastest, but he struggled much of the race and finished 19th.
“Just slow – that’s the only thing that was wrong with us today,” he said. “Just a frustrating day, especially when you know that this is a race track that I feel like I can make up a difference here and there. We were a football field and then some away from the right set-up today.”
Earnhardt retakes points lead
It doesn’t mean as much as it once did, especially since he has a win this season, but Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s third-place finish moved him back into the series points lead.
Earnhardt led three times for 25 laps, taking the lead for the first time on Lap 222 when he remained on the track instead of pitting with most of the lead-lap cars.
“I was real patient all day in saving the left rear (tire), saving the left rear (tire), saving the left rear and just waiting until the end, see where we’d be,” he said.
“We had good track position. Inside of 38 laps to go I thought everybody was going to go like (heck), and we all did and ended up running third.”
Bad start for Keselowski
Brad Keselowski had one of the fastest cars all weekend but received severe damage to his No. 2 Ford when he was struck by Kurt Busch during a pit stop on Lap 43 in an incident that also collected Kasey Kahne.
Keselowski was forced to the garage for repairs. Once he returned to the track, he bumped Busch’s Chevrolet several times in retaliation.
“I started to check up and I just barely got in the back of him and Kurt just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us,” Keselowski said. “I tell you what, I’m about tired of his recklessness.”
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