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Kyle Busch rallies to beat Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson to win the Jeff Byrd 500

  Kyle Busch's final pit stop keyed the victory (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   When Kyle Busch is on his game, he's pretty darned amazing.
   And he was here Sunday.
   Busch took the game away from Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson down the stretch to win Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500, following Saturday's Nationwide victory with a surprisingly easy win in the 500.
   Johnson appeared to have the race well in hand until the final round of pit stops, under yellow, with about 50 laps to go.
   "Carl kept me honest. I made a couple of mistakes, but nothing I couldn't recover from," Busch said.
  Johnson led a lot of laps but that last round of pit stops proved his undoing. His stop was just a tick slow and he gave up the lead for the restart.
   And in the closing miles it was Edwards trying to rattle Busch's cage. A couple of times Edwards got even side-by-side but he couldn't complete the pass.
  "The race on pit road got us. Track position was everything, and whoever had clean air had it," Johnson said. Johnson led the most laps. "I think we had a slip on the rear tire changer, and it's amazing how much just a little slip on pit road can make."
   "I thought I could get to him at the end and rough him up, but his car just took off," Edwards said. "I didn't know how fast Jimmie was, so I was thinking 'Hey, if we rough each other too much….'"
   The win was team owner Joe Gibbs' first of the year, and it follows some aggravating engine issues. "Mark Cronquist (the engine boss) has been under the gun the last couple of weeks," Busch said.
   But Busch had plenty of power this time.
   "I told Kyle at Phoenix I still owed him one....and I guess I should have taken the shot when I had it, early," Edwards said. "But I don't know if you can just bump someone and only move them here. You might cause a big wreck. And Jimmie was right there behind us."
    And Goodyear's 'new' tires? The tire company changed right-sides Saturday. The backup tires worked well, but Edwards conceded "it did throw us more of  curveball than we expected."
    Edwards started from the pole but didn't get back into contention until the final miles.
    The day wasn't a great one for team owner Richard Childress. Jeff Burton was far off the pace early, with perhaps electrical issues; Clint Bowyer never ran well, then crashed and blew up; and Kevin Harvick, in contention down the stretch, got messed up with Mark Martin, and Harvick wasn't too happy with Martin for the incident which took him out. So once again it was newcomer Paul Menard, finishing fifth, leading the day for Childress.
    Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate, had bad luck too, getting caught up in an early crash, falling laps down, and struggling in 33rd.
    Greg Biffle, Edwards' teammate, started from the front row but didn't challenge until late. Then he faded to eighth.
    The three-hour race did not have a sellout crowd, which in significant part may be related to soaring hotel rates here. Some reported hotel rooms going for $385 a night.

                                   The results of Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway





   Kyle Busch sweeps Bristol, for his 20th Sprint Cup tour win. It was his first tour win since he won here last summer, and it was his fifth Bristol Cup victory (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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