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Toyota's Kyle Busch shows he'll have something for the Chevy horde in the Daytona 500...but watch out for Mark Martin | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net


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Toyota's Kyle Busch shows he'll have something for the Chevy horde in the Daytona 500...but watch out for Mark Martin


Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Gatorade Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   So Kyle Busch is back, and it looks like with a vengeance.
   And Toyota should indeed play a role in this Daytona 500 – Busch bounced back Thursday to hold off a hard-charging Mark Martin and gambling Brian Vickers in a sparkling finish to the afternoon's second 150-mile qualifier.
   Busch started off last season like a wild man, and Carl Edwards was the only man who could hang with him most of the way.
   But then when the championship chase started, Busch got clobbered – three straight weeks of bad luck, that knocked him out of the title run.
   And that bad luck played on Busch's mind the rest of the way.
   So winning here, and putting Steve Addington's team into the 500 picture, may be crucial to the Joe Gibbs' team's early season.
   Busch slipped by Martin with a few miles to go, but Martin got one last shot when Vickers gave him a great bump-draft shot into the third turn the last lap, pushing Martin up to the outside of Busch through the fourth turn. Busch slipped up high to block Martin as Vickers ducked low in a two-abreast photo-finish for second, a car-length behind the winner.
   "I saw Mark in the mirror going high," Busch said. "I wanted to work my way up there – I didn't want to just jump up in front of him in case he was already on my quarter.
   "Then Brian was down low…
   "Mark probably had the car to beat. But we made the right moves.
   "Jeff (his spotter Jeff Dickerson) drives this thing. I just make the moves. He won the race."
    Among the underdogs, AJ Allmendinger and Jeremy Mayfield were the two feel-good stories in the second 150, racing their way into the 500. And both men were emotional about it.

Jeremy Mayfield (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  "This means so much to the whole Richard Petty organization," Allmendinger said, finishing 10th in Petty's Dodge.
   Mayfield didn't even have a team a month ago, but he put together a group of guys, bought some cars and made the trek to Daytona. And his ninth place finish Thursday put him in the 500.
   However Ryan Newman had more bad luck. Midway through the second 150 he got tagged by David Reutimann and slammed the wall.
   Newman was not happy, and he walked up to the edge of the track when Reutimann came back around and threw up his hands in mock exasperation.
   "Wrong place, wrong time," Newman fumed. "I was being patient.
   "Reutimann is a good name for him. He just rooted us up out of the way and into the wall."
   "I wasn't trying to wreck him," Reutimann said. "I screwed up. It was my mistake. He ought to be mad. I'd be mad too.
   "I apologize. I thought I was helping him. He got bottled up behind that slower car and he moved down. I thought if I just give him a square shot (bump-draft) everything would be cool.
   "I never intended for it to go that way."
   "It's a very unbelievable thing," Mayfield said, with tears welling, after putting his own team, brand new, into the sport's biggest race.
   Mayfield's new team is being run by Tony Furr, out of the sport for the past few years. Furr and Mayfield were teammates several seasons ago. The cars they're running are from the old Bill Davis shop, with engines out of the Davis engine shop.
   "My car was so loose at the start I didn't even know if I could run with these other guys," Mayfield said. "But we made a pit stop, and it worked from then on.
   "We've got some guys hired full-time…but to be honest they haven't even gotten their first paycheck yet.
  "I'm still blown away by this. Nobody can understand just how hard this thing is.
   "And out there on the track, you're running for your life. I couldn't even talk on the radio at the end, it was so emotional. It was extremely emotional for both AJ and me."
   "We've both been though about the same things the last two years," Allmendinger said. "This is amazing. I've been so nervous the past couple of days. I felt I deserved to be in the 500…and for all Richard and the guys have done in the past few weeks just to throw this team together…..
   "I am just thrilled."
   The best-finishing Ford in the second 150 was driven by Bobby Labonte, who came home sixth. "We've just got to work on the handle on it," Labonte griped. "It's just out of control for me. 
    "I need for it to be tight…I don't need it to be that loose when somebody is under me. 
    "We've still got a lot of work to do.  It's still just too much of a handful.
    "But we did get another race under our belt, so that was good.  And we've got some good data on tire wear."



AJ Allmendinger with wife Lynn Kushnirenko (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)




Needless to say I'm thrilled

Needless to say I'm thrilled with Allmendinger's run but I want a better finish than 10th.

AJ said he wasn't very happy

AJ said he wasn't very happy with the way the car handled either....but then most of these cars are just out of control down here....Jeff Gordon may have the company line about the car and how great it is, but Kyle Busch will give you an earful.

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