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Kyle Busch holds off Mark Martin to win Bristol 500 in a hard-driving race

  Kyle Busch wins Bristol, to get back in the title chase (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   Now this is what Bristol is all about, finally once again: Slammin', bammin' NASCAR rock and roll.
   Kyle Busch, after a run of bad luck this summer that has put him on the verge of missing the championship playoffs, barely held off Mark Martin to win Saturday night's Sharpie 500, in the best race yet on the new smooth concrete.
   "Mark Martin, what a class act, he deserved to win this race," Busch said, after his first Sprint Cup tour win since Richmond in the spring.
   "He raced me clean. We didn't have the best car tonight. But I gave it all I had."
  "This is super-huge," crew chief Steve Addington said of the win, which puts the team back in title contention. "We just need to get back on track of giving Kyle what he needs to win races."
   "He gave me room," Martin said of Busch at the finish. "I got in under him, but he gave me plenty of room, which was good, because I slid up. If he'd have crowded me, we'd have wrecked.
   "He gave me room, I just didn't get it done.
   "We finally got a decent finish. No matter how this thing falls, I'm proud of this team. I'm not disappointed I ran second. And I'm glad we had the fans on their feet."
    Busch, now up to 13th in the standings, is just 34 points behind 12th-place Matt Kenseth, the man on the playoff bubble with two races to go, at Atlanta and Richmond. The night was mostly Martin's, and he needed some breaks after running out of gas at Michigan last weekend and finishing 31st. With Saturday's run here Martin moved up to 10th in the standings; but the spread from seventh to 14th in the standings is quite tight, and two of those eight will not make the playoffs.
   Tour leader Tony Stewart had another ragged race, falling 11 laps down with battery problems and other issues.
   A late crash may have doomed Clint Bowyer in his playoff hopes. "Pretty frustrated," Bowyer said.
   Jimmie Johnson had a bad pit stop and lost track position but fought back to finish eighth.



  The crowd of 165,000 saw a classic Bristol race, and a classy finish (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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