Busch tames Atlanta again; Edwards’s actions cause stir
HAMPTON, Ga. - Kurt Busch survived a couple of restarts and 16 extra laps to win again yesterday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a race marred by accusations of an intentional crash that sent a car hurtling toward the main stands upside down.
Busch won the spring race at the 1.54-mile trioval for the second year in a row, beating Matt Kenseth to the line by nearly a half-second. Juan Pablo Montoya was third, followed by Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard.
The race went 341 laps instead of its scheduled 325 because of two big crashes. The first drew the most attention.
Carl Edwards, running 156 laps behind, clipped Brad Keselowski and caused his car to spin, then lift into the air at around 190 miles per hour. It smashed into the barrier in front of the stands roof-first, then flipped back onto the track right side up. Keselowski was OK, but NASCAR ordered Edwards to park his car and summoned him to its trailer for a tongue-lashing.
“To come back and just intentionally wreck someone, that’s not cool,’’ Keselowski said. “He could have killed someone in the grandstands.’’
On the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, another crash took out seven cars coming through turns three and four. Finally, they got in two clean laps, and it was Busch all the way for his third career win in Atlanta.
“You have to adjust to whatever circumstances there are to win these races,’’ said Busch, who claimed his 21st career victory and snapped Jimmie Johnson’s two-race winning streak. “I felt we won the race outright today. There’s no doubt we did the job on pit road. We did the job on long runs. We hit it right on the restarts. That’s what I’m most proud of.’’
Keselowski nicked Edwards early in the race, which sent him crashing into Joey Logano. Edwards spent much of the day in the garage, but returned to take out his frustration in what appeared to be an intentional tap coming across the start-finish line.
After Edwards was ordered off the track, he drove defiantly around the quarter-mile track in front of the stands and went backward down the pit lane. Once he climbed from the car, he didn’t even bother with a denial.
“Brad knows the deal between him and I,’’ Edwards said. “The scary part was his car went airborne, which was not what I expected at all. At the end of the day, we’re out here to race and people have to have respect for one another and I have a lot of respect for people’s safety.’’
Johnson, the four-time defending Sprint Cup champion, was coming off wins at California and Las Vegas. He got as high as third, but a bad pit stop and a scrape with Ryan Newman cost Johnson a chance to become the first driver since 2007 to make it three in a row.