April 12, 2006

The Racing Reporter

Kasey Kahne won his second Nextel Cup race of the season as he took the lead in Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500 from Tony Stewart on lap 308 of the 334-lap race, and ran away from the rest of the field.

Kahne, who turns 26 on Monday, now has three career victories and all of them have come from the pole. His previous win this season was Atlanta in March. His other win came at Richmond in 2005.

"I couldn't believe that we were loose there at the start," said Kahne. "It took us a while to get going. They made a lot of adjustments, but on the final run, it was the best it had run all day."

"It was a heck of a battle there with Tony (Stewart), because I knew he wanted to hold me off," he said. "I wasn't getting good restarts. I was just missing them. The engine ran great, and we showed that we had the best car at the end."

His win moved him into third spot in the points, 46 points behind the leader, Jimmie Johnson.

Matt Kenseth was able to pass Stewart for second with 10 laps remaining, but had nothing for Kahne's No. 9 Dodge.

"We could just never get it right," said Kenseth. "We never had the balance perfect today, but through hard work and good pit stops, I had a great car."

Kenseth moved into second in points, just 15 points out of first. It was Kenseth's fourth top-five finish of the season.

Third-place finisher, Tony Stewart moved into fifth in points, but he was almost the victim of an accident after Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Ford, spun and hit the wall during lap 258.

"He just lost it," said Stewart. "He just looped it because he was driving over his head. I'm just grateful no one was caught up in it."

Kurt Busch continues to be the center of controversy after he sent Greg Biffle into the outside wall after Biffle had passed him.

Biffle said there was no "give and take," on the part of Busch.

"I don't know what he was trying to do," countered Busch. "I was a lap car trying to get out of the way, and he checked up down the straightaway. I tried to keep from getting into him, and I had no where to go."

"I hate that," Busch continued. "He had a fast race car. I was just trying to get out of the way."

Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Scott Riggs, Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin, and Bobby Labonte rounded out the top-10.

Top-10 unofficial Nextel driver standings after 7 of 36: 1. Johnson-1063, 2. Kenseth-1048, 3. Kahne-1017, 4. Martin-1017, 5. Stewart-966, 6. Earnhardt-951, 7. Kyle Busch-950, 8. Jeff Gordon-911, 9. Harvick-859, 10. Mears-845

Kurt Busch Is One For One

It's hard to believe that a former Nextel Cup champion could be a rookie in the Busch Series, but that's exactly the case with Kurt Busch.

In his first career Busch Series start, rookie Kurt Busch was the top cowboy at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. He held off Greg Biffle in a green-white-checkered finish, as Cup guys swept the top six spots.

Busch hopped directly into the Nextel Cup Series for Roush Racing in 2001 after a year in the NASCAR Truck Series, skipping over the stepping stone traditionally taken by young stock-car drivers.

His new team, Penske South, wanted to give Busch a little extra time in the seat of a Dodge. So Roger Penske put him in the No. 39 car in which Ryan Newman won six times.

"We really had a nice car from the get-go," said Busch, the 2004 Nextel Cup champion. "We had a car that could keep pace with the leaders and then the crew got me out in front."

Penske asked him to drive the No. 39 "as a favor" for a team aimed at developing people that might one day work on the Cup teams with Busch and Newman.

Busch is the 16th driver with at least one victory in the Cup, Busch and Truck series. But he's the second in his own family — younger brother Kyle, who finished fourth on Saturday, won in all three series last year.

Four other drivers won their first Busch Series start, beginning with Dale Earnhardt in the first race in the series. Joe Ruttman, Ricky Rudd, and Terry Labonte also did it, with Labonte doing it most recently in October 1985 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Casey Mears finished third, just ahead of Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Burton.

Top-10 Busch Series drivers after 7 of 35: 1. Harvick-1099, 2. Hamlin-953, 3. Bowyer-900, 4. J.J. Yeley-868, 5. Biffle-849, 6. Kyle Busch-832, 7. Sauter-832, 8. Menard-819, 9. Leffler-818, 10. McMurray-816

Crown Jewel Of Racing Gets Addition

Darlington Raceway, NASCAR's first Superspeedway, and once considered the "Crown Jewel" of all racetracks, has undergone a facelift and addition.

Last Wednesday, a new, 6300-seat grandstand was named after Harold Brasington, the man who built the sport's first superspeedway.

"It makes me proud to see this," said Brasington Jr., 63 and still living in Darlington.

Track leaders considered several options in naming the new stands, including drivers with strong track connections like South Carolina native Cale Yarborough and nine-time Darlington winner Dale Earnhardt.

There was even talk of selling the naming rights.

In the end, raceway president Chris Browning kept returning to the man who got the whole thing started with his wacky idea to carve a track out of a peanut farm nearly 60 years ago.

"It was the number one priority to keep his name at this place," Browning said.

Brasington met with several people about his idea, including NASCAR pioneer "Big" Bill France. France told Brasington a banked speedway probably wouldn't work. "I don't think you're right about that," Brasington Jr., then in grade school, remembers his father saying.

Soon enough, Brasington was clearing farmland in the fall of 1949 for his vision. He had to change the plans for a true oval, however, after promising a neighbor that a nearby minnow pond would not be destroyed. The result was Darlington's famous egg-shape layout that has vexed NASCAR's best drivers for years. The first Southern 500, won by Johnny Mantz, took place in 1950.

Brasington Sr. died in 1996 at age 86.

Weekend Racing

The only racing this weekend is the NASCAR Busch Series. Both the Nextel Cup and Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off for the traditional Easter break.

Saturday, April 15, Busch Series Pepsi 300, race 8 of 35, Starting time: 3:30 p.m. (EST); TV: FX Channel; Distance: 225 laps; Defending champion: Reed Sorenson.

Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team is Jeff Green driving for this season?

Last Week's Question: How many Winston Cup championships did Bobby Allison win? Answer. Allison has one Cup title, and that came in 1983.

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