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The Coke 600 -- Kurt Busch, Again! But how about that Jamie Mac....and what to make of Burton-vs-Kyle?

 Kurt Busch! His second tour win of the spring, and maybe it's time to ponder his chances for a second NASCAR championship (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR) 

   By Mike Mulhern

   Kurt Busch backed up last weekend's All-Star victory with a dominating performance in the Coke 600, beating surprising Jamie McMurray and head-strong Kyle Busch in 19-lap sprint to the finish
   While Kurt Busch led 252 of the 400 laps, much of the last hour appeared to be focusing in on a win by McMurray, whose team owner, Chip Ganassi, arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway midway through the four-plus-hour event after winning the Indianapolis 500.
    If McMurray had pulled off the win, Ganassi would have become the first man in NASCAR history to win Indianapolis and the Charlotte 600 the same day. Arch-rival owner Roger Penske came close in 1994, with Al Unser Jr. winning Indy and Rusty Wallace finishing second in the 600.

    Kurt, not just with this win, but with his team's performance this spring, including the win at Atlanta and the All-Star win last weekend, is in a great mood right now. "This was a race for the ages," Busch said, in some hyperbole. "Having a car as good as it was in the daytime, I was afraid of it at night (when this track notoriously changes). I didn't know if it was going to be able to give me the handle like it had early on in the race.
   "But it played out in our favor.
    "I'm speechless we swept both races. It's an unbelievable weekend.
    "McMurray kept us honest. He was right there at the end. But it wasn't like we faded back into the pack -- he just separated himself from the pack to come and get us.
    "And he taught me a couple things about my line. I needed to adjust it. It helped us stay out in front of him at the end."
    The win was Kurt's 22nd on the tour, but his first at Charlotte. And he talked in awe of this victory lane: "It's hallowed ground...to get to stand where some of the greats have stood.
    "For th All-Star race, they bring a big trailer out on the front straightaway...and it's great to celebrate on the front straightaway, old-school style, like you would do on a Saturday night show. That's what it makes you feel like the Saturday night shootout in a late model race and you're right there with the fans.
    "But you go into hallowed ground when you go into the real victory lane at Charlotte."

   One of the big stories of the night was clearly McMurray: And if NASCAR still had that Winston Million promotion, with a $1 million to any driver winning three of four specific events – the Daytona 500, sprint Talladega 500, Charlotte 600 and Labor Day Southern 500 – McMurray would have an excellent shot at that. He won the Daytona 500, he finished second at Talladega last month (and he won Talladega last fall), and he finished second at Darlington three weeks.
   It is shaping up as McMurray's best season ever.
   "I thought if I could get outside of Kurt the first few laps I would have something for him," McMurray said.
   "But it was amazing how much speed we could use the first 10 or 12 laps....and it's hard to pass when you're running that fast. And our two cars were so equal."  



  Denny Hamlin (11) took himself out of contention when he had to hit the dirt here in dodging a crashing Jimmie Johnson (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Another big story here Sunday: Jimmie Johnson, once Mr. Charlotte at this track, for his dominance, had another bad race, and the four-time NASCAR champ wound up in the wall twice.
    Johnson's problems were simple – he spun out by himself twice. Loose.
   First time he scraped the fourth turn wall.
   Second time he hit the inside wall hard.
   But, facing their fourth DNF of the spring, a quite uncharacteristic stretch for Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, the team pulled off some repairs and put Johnson back in the race, although 33 laps down in 37th. And he never gained a spot.
     "If you race long enough, you'll have problems," Johnson said.
    So Johnson, who won three of the year's first five races, appears to have hit some potholes. At Dover two weeks ago he dominated but had a bad pit stop the last time and finished 16th; at Darlington the week prior, he crashed. And two weeks before that he crashed at Talladega. That's three crashes in the last five races.

   Jeff Burton was one of the late-race challengers, but his bid ended with a cut tire, which he angrily blamed on Kyle Busch, in a post-race pit road confrontation, rare for the normally mild-mannered Burton.
   "It's really frustrating to race that hard, and we had the car we needed at the end...and on the restart he runs into me and I have a problem with it," Burton said.
   Kyle Busch seemed to be surprised by Burton's outburst.
    Neither man had seen the replays, which may cool things off. On the jumbled restart Burton was on the outside, teammate Clint Bowyer was on the inside, and there was a big hole in the middle, which Kyle Busch went for. But it appeared that Burton was trying to squeeze Busch a little from one side while Bowyer was squeezing from the other, as the three-wide went in to the corner. Busch's right-front and Burton's left-rear
   "I have no idea what transpired,
   "Clint ducked low to my inside on the restart, and that forced me to the middle. And there was another car on the outside. I didn't have much room. I was trying not to get pinched or  squeezed.
   "Jeff said I didn't race him with respect, and that if I wasn't going to race him with respect he wasn't going to race me with respect.
   "But it wasn't me who made it three-wide, it was his teammate. I told him to go talk to his teammate.
   "If I'd made a mistake, I would accept it."
    Instead of winning, or getting a top-five, Burton wound up 25th...and he was hot: "The last restart, Kyle made it three-wide on the restart, because the guys on the bottom (lane) didn't have (fresh) tires and he trying to make something happen...which I don't have a problem with.
    "So he run into me and cuts my left-rear tire, and then I have a problem with it.
    "He's real aggressive. That's cool. But when he starts affecting me with his aggressiveness, I just will not put up with it. I've been around here long enough. I just will not tolerate it.
    "I can't blame him for that; but the least he can do is stay off of me.
    "I like racing with Kyle, I really do. I enjoy it. But when he gets over-aggressive and I pay the price for it, I won't tolerate it. I'm not going to be the victim of his aggressiveness.
    "First he said he didn't hit me. Then he said he got put there (by Bowyer). Then he said he had to go.
    "He didn't mean to do it, okay. He was trying to defend himself, and what he was saying wasn't making sense. That's okay; he was upset because I was yelling at him."

   Now, is there a championship ahead for Kurt Busch? He won it in 2004.
   But he's a changed man now. And how might that affect his title run?
    "I'm not one to go out there with a big flash and a big flair," Kurt said. "I used to, early on -- I'd run my head up against the wall, I'd run my racecar up against the wall...and reviews came in negative.
   "That's not how I wanted to be remembered...how I wanted to be looked at, sitting there on the porch talking with my grandkids about things.
   "That 2003 taught me a lot. And 2004 backed up what I was thinking about my mindset.
    "So you look at guys like Jeff Burton and Mark Martin -- those guys I learned a lot from at Roush Racing when I was having my troubles. I look up to those guys tremendously. Those guys don't get a lot of that flash or flair or recognition, but they're the greats in our sport.
    "So a weekend like this....I looked at this ring...and I've got the ring from last weekend....and we're going to make a big team ring on the Charlotte sweep weekend and give it to all the Penske employees and commemorate what this means to be able to dominate on two weekends like this in Charlotte. It ranks right up there with the championship emotions I had in 2004."

                              The results of Sunday's Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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  Kurt Busch was all but uncatchable in the 600. After Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin had trouble, Kurt's night was easier. But Jamie McMurray made a game effort to win (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle tried to make it three

Kyle tried to make it three wide before Clint was ever there. It was the 31 and 17 and Kyle went between them when there wasn't room. Go back and watch the entire sequence of events. You're so wrong.

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so let's go to the

so let's go to the video:


(the incident in question is at the :42 mark)

Burton was upset that his day

Burton was upset that his day got ruined and I can understand that. Perhaps his outrage was directed in the wrong direction. The real reason for his misfortune was the changes that NASCAR (which Burton is constantly defending) has made in the last few years to keep the few remaining "fans" from being bored. Lucky Dogs, wave arounds, mystery cautions and double file restarts are all designed to bunch things up and create situations that might keep the eyeballs focused on the track. What the heck does Burton expect is going to happen? Turned out he was wrong to blame Kyle and ended up doing exactly what everyone boos Kyle for doing. But he's "Mr. Nice Guy" so we should admire his outburst. Would love to have seen him do that to a certain Mr. Earnhardt Sr., the all time leader in aggressive driving. If I were Kyle, I would have said to Burton: " I finished 3rd, were did you finish?"

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