By Toby Christie (Originally Appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Kyle Busch started from the pole Saturday night at Richmond in the Crown Royal Heath Calhoun 400, and he looked very dominant early on. Busch on the second green flag run of the race had lapped up to the eighth-place car, before the caution came out on lap 153. Busch held the top spot for well over the halfway point of the 400 lap race, before a tire rub and an ill-handling car paved the way for Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon.
Burton grabbed the lead on lap 230, as Busch slid backwards. Burton, a Virginia-native, looked strong all night. Burton would lead 20 laps, before Jeff Gordon motored by him. Jeff Gordon, who had reported a car that was “Plowing, Plowing, Plowing”, was very shocked to be in the lead at this juncture in the race.
The race appeared to be Gordon’s race to win, as several others have looked in 2010, but late cautions brought the field closer to Gordon.
On a restart with 15 laps to go, Kyle Busch cut his way from fourth to second-place, and he now looked like the only one who could stop Gordon from picking up his 83rd career victory. The caution came out for the final time on lap 389 for Sam Hornish Jr. crashing hard. This set us up for an exciting finish between Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch, who was on the high side, got by Gordon on the restart and set sail on his first victory of 2010, and his 17th of his Sprint Cup Series career. Gordon crossed the line 0.775 of a second short of victory… he now sits on a 40-race win-less streak. However following the race Gordon remained upbeat.
“Yeah, you know, it’s a little disappointing we haven’t won some races yet. If we keep doing this, those will come. We got to keep putting ourselves in position. Our cars that we’ve been leading those laps are not the kind of cars that you want a green-white-checkered or a late caution. That’s something you have to think about.” Gordon Said, “You have to try to figure out how to make an air pressure adjustment or do certain things to make your car really good on those short runs because we’re seeing them every weekend and that’s how you’re going to have to win races. Just keeps us working harder, and myself.
For Kyle Busch it was an early birthday present, as he would turn 25-years-old just hours later. Busch showed some real maturity in sticking with it and rebounding, when his car wasn’t the dominant car after the halfway point.
“For the old Kyle Busch, he would have folded. The new one, he stuck in there, he dug hard. He kept going (laughter). ” Busch said.
Kevin Harvick finished third, which was good enough for him to take a 10 point lead of Jimmie Johnson in the standings.
“I think for us, you know, it’s 10 races. The last 10 is 10 races as well. You look at that and you say, We can lead the points after 10 races.” Harvick said with confidence, ” But I think in order to get better, we got to get a little better on pit road, be more consistent. When we make mistakes, we make big mistakes. We can’t do that. We just got to keep pushing ahead.”
Jeff Burton finished fourth, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. fell out of chase contention this week, and now sits 13th in the standings. Earnhardt had an all around rough evening. He was lapped during the long green-flag run early, and when he and his team had a chance to utilize the “wave around” rule, they declined and stayed a lap down. Later on Earnhardt made contact with Paul Menard and Bobby Labonte, which led to a cut tire. Earnhardt went on to finish 32nd, three laps down.