- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2008

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Kyle Busch fell a lap down midway through the race and after racing his way back into contention needed an awesome save to keep himself from triggering a massive crash.

“Typical Talladega,” he thought.

Only this time, the crash happened behind Busch. Instead of leaving Talladega Superspeedway with a smashed-up car, he drove into victory lane at the Aaron’s 499. The kid who couldn’t conquer Talladega finally won at the harrowing track yesterday, and in this breakout season for Busch, it was only fitting he coasted to the victory.

“I’d like to say that I’m smarter than I look, but that’s certainly not the case,” Busch said. “Today was just due to having a great car. Getting a lap down, that was like, ‘Oh, typical Talladega’ there. But I didn’t wreck today, and I was definitely happy of that, and I was greatly appreciative that I was able to win today because it’s certainly been a struggle for several years.

“I don’t think I’ve ever finished one here yet without some sort of damage. We still had damage, but it wasn’t enough to keep us from victory lane.”

Busch came back from a lap down, then survived a near wreck with Jamie McMurray for his first win at Talladega. It was won under caution when a 12-car accident brought out the yellow flag on the final lap, freezing the field and allowing Busch to make his way slowly across the finish line — a rare completion considering his history at the track.

In six previous Cup races, Busch failed to finish four times and wrecked out of both events last season. His accident in last spring’s Cup race was so hard, he cracked his head-and-neck restraint while finishing 37th. And his wreck in the fall officially ended his championship hopes.

But this year, he can’t seem to do anything wrong. His victory was his second Sprint Cup win of the year, seventh spanning all three of NASCAR’s top series, and gave him wins four weekends in a row dating to a Nationwide Series victory in Texas earlier this month.

He has victories this season on a road course, an intermediate track, a pseudo-short track and a superspeedway.

It has made for an incredible start to the season for Busch, who was fired from Hendrick Motorsports last year despite his immense talent because the team couldn’t tolerate his often irrational temperament.

So Joe Gibbs Racing snatched him up, and the team couldn’t be more thrilled with its find. Busch, who turns 23 next week, has given the organization assurance it has a strong future even if two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart opts to leave the team when his contract expires.

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