Kurt Busch overcame some early race drama to break a 12-year winless streak at Martinsville Speedway with a victory in Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Busch, who won on the difficult half-mile oval in 2002 and had recorded only four top-10 finishes since then, took a .263-second victory over Jimmie Johnson.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, and took over the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead, followed by Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose.
There were a record 33 lead changes in the race, besting the previous record of 31 set in April of 2011.
“I’m going to soak this in. This is an unbelievable feeling, to get back to victory lane after this tour that I’ve been on, to find this opportunity with Stewart-Haas, and to win, it means the world to me,” said Busch, who ended an 83-race winless streak.
Busch and Brad Keselowski tangled on pit road early and Busch thought his day was done, especially after an on-track dust-up between the two.
"We won. We're not worried about any of that nonsense right now,” Busch said about the incident. “We are a winner. We're not guaranteed in the Chase but we have a win and we're moving forward.”
Busch took the lead for good on lap 490 and held off Johnson, an eight-time Martinsville winner down the stretch.
“I felt like since I hadn’t seen him through really any part of the day that he might have me on the short-run speed but he would fall off,” said Johnson. “He stayed in my mirror and found a way back by me (on lap 490) and then got a car length or so on me and did an awesome job.”
Busch’s win marked the sixth different winner in six races in the 2014 season.
There were 14 caution periods in the race for a total of 97 laps.
Martinsville Speedway PR