Kurt Busch takes points lead but wanted a win Print
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Sunday, 20 March 2011 12:40
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 BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - Listening to Kurt Busch on his team radio Sunday gave the impression of a miserable driver running at the back of the pack.
In reality, he finished seventh at Bristol Motor Speedway, took over sole possession of the Sprint Cup Series points standings, and became the only driver to score top-10 finishes in all four of this season's races.
``We'll take that,'' he said after.
So why was he so frustrated during the race?
``We just want to get up there and try to win one of these things,'' he said. ``We'll keep pushing hard.''
Busch again played second fiddle to younger brother, Kyle, who won both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races this weekend. Kyle Busch has now won the last five NASCAR races at Bristol dating back to last August, and has five Cup wins at Bristol.
The five Bristol victories ties Kyle with Kurt, who won five of 10 races between 2002 and 2006 but hasn't been back to Bristol's Victory Lane since.
It's hard to swallow for Busch, who doesn't want to settle for good finishes. When his Penske Racing team doesn't make the adjustments to get his car caught up with the leaders, he doesn't react well over the radio. At one point, he complained that through six seasons at Penske, he's never been able to compete once the tires lay rubber on the track and blamed it on a mechanical flaw with Penske's cars.
``We were in good position early on, riding around in third and could see the leaders,'' he explained after the race. ``We pushed our car hard on some of the restarts trying to get up there and lead a lap. It just didn't seem we had the mojo to compete.''
But in big picture terms, Busch stamped the race ``a point-leader type effort.''
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MENARD ON THE MOVE: With a fifth-place finish at Bristol, Paul Menard continued as the most consistent Richard Childress Racing driver.
Menard has been the highest-finishing RCR driver in three of the first four races this season, and he's fifth in points. He credited crew chief Slugger Labbe, who came with him when he left Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of last season to drive for RCR.
``What's cool is we've been to four different race tracks and we've had strong runs at all four,'' Menard said. ``A testament to Slugger and everyone at RCR. There is a lot of talent up there. Slugger built a hell of a race team and just having a lot of fun right now.''
RCR teammate Kevin Harvick was decent Sunday, leading once for 37 laps, and he was running third when he was hit from behind by Mark Martin in a multicar accident. It dropped him to 16th after pitting to fix the damage, but he rallied for a sixth-place finish and said his team is championship-worthy.
``Everybody is just so confident in each other and everybody is just mellow on the radio and when something happens we just fix it and come back,'' Harvick said. ``That's not a feeling I've ever had until last year, and these first four weeks I've had that feeling over and over again and we keep fighting back.''
Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, the other drivers at RCR, aren't as confident right now.
Bowyer's engine failed and he finished 35th, and Burton finished 20th despite an early incident that caused him to fall off the pace. Bowyer is 24th in points, while Burton is 29th.
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JUNIOR HOLDS ON: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was flagged for speeding on pit road Sunday and it likely cost him a top-10 finish.
He instead finished 11th - coming back from one lap down - and moved up one spot in the standings to ninth. Not too shabby considering he didn't like the changes his Hendrick Motorsports crew made to his Chevrolet after Saturday's practice.
``The car just didn't work off the corner very good and drove the left front across the race track,'' he said. ``We just made a good day out of nothing, really.''
Earnhardt once again praised crew chief Steve Letarte, who was put in charge of Earnhardt's team in the offseason and is steadily making gains with NASCAR's most popular driver through four races this season.
``Steve has done amazing,'' Earnhardt Jr. said. ``Every week, we've gotten better during the race. I can't ask for any more than that and I hope he keeps it up.''
He also once again kept Earnhardt levelheaded during the race, particularly after the speeding penalty.
``He just does a good job of keeping me calm and keeping me focused on trying to do good,'' Earnhardt said. ``I have such a temper, man, in that car. It is hard to maintain it. We keep getting good finishes, we'll be all right.''
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TEMPERS FLARE: Jeff Gordon was none too pleased with Brad Keselowski over contact between the two midway through the race.
Keselowski was involved in the first caution of the race, which took him out of contention for the win. But his Penske Racing team worked hard to salvage a good finish - and it came at the expense of Gordon, who was racing for a top-10.
Gordon wound up 14th, while Keselowski was 18th.
``He's trying to keep from going a lap down and hey, you've got to give him credit, they fought back and got back on the lead lap and got a decent finish out of it,'' Gordon said. ``But I'll just tell Brad that the next time I'm three laps down, and he's on the lead lap, just expect the same out of me, you know? I don't expect him to just let off. He had a fast race car.
``But when you're three laps down and then you door-slam the guy trying to pass - that's what ticked me off.''
 

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Driver Odds
Sprint Cup - Odds to Win the Hollywood Casino 400 @ Kansas Speedway
Jeff Gordon #24 +400
Kevin Harvick #4 +450
Brad Keselowski #2 +550
Jimmie Johnson #48 +550
Joey Logano #22 +800
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