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Kurt Busch makes it look sooo easy at Sonoma....and Tony Stewart gets the worst of it with Brian Vickers

  Kurt Busch! Untouchable. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   Kurt Busch, road course wizard?
   Well, Busch had it all his way Sunday at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway, leading 75 of the 110 laps and pulling away at will.
   And he leaves California with his first NASCAR road course victory.

   It was no fluke, and Busch made it convincing. Tony Stewart was the only man who had any shot at Busch, and Stewart got caught up in a personal duel with Brian Vickers that wound up with Stewart crashed out and stuck up on top of a stack of safety tires.
   "Man, we've been on a high these last few weeks….and today we just had to conserve our rear tires, that was our main thought," Busch said.
   Conserving tires, because crew chief Steve Addington opted for a surprising two-stop game plan, hoping to bring Busch to the pits only twice during the 220-mile race.
   And it worked spectacularly well.
   "And once we had enough fuel to make it, I started measuring my pace," Busch went on. "I didn't want anyone to have a shot at us, or think they had a shot at us, so I started stretching it out.
   "It was an unbelievable day."
   Busch started the year with a splash at Daytona during SpeedWeeks, but then his fortunes took a nose dive. And at Richmond in early May Busch blew up, in a rather public display of emotion, quite un-RogerPenske-like.
   But Busch certainly got car owner Penske's attention, and the Dodge team has had some of the best equipment the past month, certainly some of the fastest, at Kansas City and Pocono and now at Sonoma.
   Busch's win made it 11 different winners on the tour this season in 16 events, and he made his statement in front of surprisingly huge crowd at the wine country track just north of San Francisco.
   After Stewart took himself out of the hunt, the battle for second was, somewhat unexpectedly, for the way the three-hour race had progressed, between Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon, with Gordon getting the spot.
   Drivers, as typical at the highly technical course, were irate at the end.
   Most notable incidents involved Stewart and Vickers, and Juan Pablo Montoya and several rivals, including Kasey Kahne, who made some sharp comments about Montoya: "Last year even when their cars were good, Montoya still couldn't win a race," Kahne griped. "That shows what he can do in NASCAR."
   However the highlight of afternoon was the the Stewart-Vickers dispute.
   That began early when Stewart ran into the back of Vickers, in heavy traffic, going into turn 11. That damaged Vickers' car; after repairs Vickers returned to the track late and ran into the back of Stewart's car while Stewart was chasing Busch for the lead.
   Stewart's car wound up stuck on top of a stack of safety tires.
   Stewart, not seemingly very upset, was plainspoken and blunt in his interpretation.
   "I probably had it coming, because I dumped him earlier," Stewart said after the race. "But I dumped him because he was blocking.
   "If anybody wants to keep blocking all year, that's what I'm going to do. And they can handle it however they want to.
   "It was payback. I dumped him first….but I dumped him because he was blocking.
   "I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year (in fact Stewart repeated those complaints last week at Michigan and again Friday at Sonoma). And I wouldn't care if it was Ryan Newman (Stewart's own teammate), I would have dumped him too.
  "If they want to block, that's what's going to happen to them every time, for the rest of my career."
   Stewart's move could be particularly pointed as the stock car tour heads this week to Florida for Saturday night's Daytona 400, at a track where blocking comes at nearly 200 mph.
   "There wasn't any reason for that point of the race for him to start blocking," Stewart went on. "It didn't make sense to do it…and I'm not going to tolerate it.
   "I don't race guys that way, and I'm not going to let guys race me that way. If they do, they'll get dumped."
    Vickers, it should be noted, is not known as a dirty racer, or one prone to hard blocks. However he just learned this week that the Red Bull team he has been driving for since 2007 is losing both its owner and sponsor at the end of the year, so Vickers is suddenly out in the 2012 job market.
   Vickers took the high road and said no.
   "I love to lie to you, but it wasn't that's not in my personality," Vickers said.
   "I know Tony said he dumped me on purpose. But I know Tony is a smart enough driver that he didn't just drive in there from 20 (lengths) back to wreck me. I don't know why he did it."
   Vickers said the track ahead was blocked with convoluted traffic at the time Stewart slammed into him.
   Vickers denied blocking: "He may not have noticed it, but Kyle Busch was off the course and coming back across sideways, and I was trying to avoid him," Vickers said. "And I was on the inside of the car in front of me.
   "Tony then was the least of my concerns. It wasn't any attempt to block Tony.
   "But that's what he felt like it was….and he sowed his oats, and he reaped them."
   From here? "We'll be fine," Vickers insisted.
   "You know it's funny -- Our relationship started in turn 11 in 2004 – he wrecked me, and I wrecked him back.
   "Every once in a while stuff just happens.
   "Tony and I race together probably better than just about anybody on the track. When he gets to me, I let him go; and when I get to him, he lets me go.
   "I'm sure we'll be right back to that next week.
   "We've just got some things to talk about."


     Kurt Busch, with Patricia Driscoll (Photo: Getty Images


From the emailbag: MD

From the emailbag:
MD says:

"They got some wrecks later on after the first yellow, but overall almost the only battle all race was for 10th late in the going. We of course also wound up with Brian Vickers doing a bad Carl Edwards imitation and Tony Stewart giving new meaning to the term "JACKED UP!" while atop the Turn 11 tire barrier. Amid all this, Dale Junior is starting to look like the Tom Coughlin NY Giants - fast out of the gate but beginning to backslide as the season wears on."

" ...and Tony Stewart gets

" ...and Tony Stewart gets the worst of it with Brian Vickers"

I disagree, I think Dale Jr got the worst of it...

well, you might be right. but

well, you might be right. but then a lot of those guys didn't fare that well at sonoma.....i just wish we could see that much action up at the head of the pack.

Mike, Junior was doing fine

Mike, Junior was doing fine until his radiator was damaged in the mess that Stewart caused.

you're right. this is a good

you're right. this is a good year for junior, he's got a good head going, steve letarte is good for him, and junior is working hard again...but he tends to get too down.....hope he can win before he gets too worried.....

Did I miss something? I

Did I miss something? I noticed at anthem time a pic of Kurt and wondered who the girl was beside him, as did not look like Eva (think that is/was wifes name). Now the pic above. Have they divorced?

uh, ah, er......i just filed

uh, ah, er......i just filed the picture with the story.....have no idea what's going on behind the scenes....but i'll ask kurt here friday for you.....

Too bad we have our stars of

Too bad we have our stars of the sport taking out innocent bystanders when they have to prove a point to one another. Junior gets the bad break. I hope Tony is happy that he has proven how tough he is.

i understand tony's

i understand tony's frustrated....having to drop bobby hutchens as comp director....cheap sponsors...yada....but looks to me like he just blew it at sonoma....however he did make a good point -- wonder if anyone here at daytona will think twice before blocking smoke?

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