Adjusting the Sails: Kurt Busch triumphs at Martinsville

Kurt Busch has been through a lot in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. From the highest of highs, he has struggled, tumbled, and scraped, eventually hitting rock bottom. People began to question not only his racing ability, but the fibers of his being.

The race at Martinsville Speedway marked a setback and a triumph. The driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing was caught in an early altercation on pit road. He was hit when Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski bumped into each other. Keselowski placed blame on Busch and returned to the track, his front end removed. The two scuffled and rubbed for multiple laps. Busch remarked that, after the race, the two would have to talk —with their fists.

When the wind shifts, the only logical response is to adjust the sails. Even if it’s a gust from a hurricane.

After that exchange, things altered in the cockpit of the car. Busch calmed down and focused on what mattered, and what mattered was getting a win. The rest of the day, he chiseled away at the field until he was in a position to fight for the lead. That lead was claimed by Jimmie Johnson, who was also hungry for a win. The two don’t exactly have the friendliest history, either.

Lap after lap brought intense racing, which could be seen throughout the field the whole day. Johnson would lead for three laps, then Busch would take the top spot. It went on like this for numerous cycles.

Cars that were multiple laps down were the key to winning; they slowed Johnson up, allowing Busch to catch him. The racing tightened, yet the No. 41 had the ability to get off the corner better. That gave him the advantage and helped him earn his first win with SHR.

Point Standings after the STP 500

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (–)
2. Matt Kenseth (-9)
3. Carl Edwards (-10)
4. Jeff Gordon (-11)
5. Jimmie Johnson (-18)
6. Kyle Busch (-38)
7. Brad Keselowski (-39)
8. Joey Logano (-40)
9. Austin Dillon (-48)
10. Ryan Newman (-53)
11. Paul Menard (-59)
12. Denny Hamlin (-62)
12. Brian Vickers (-62)
14. Marcos Ambrose (-65)
15. Tony Stewart (-73)
16. AJ Allmendinger (-75)

FAN REACTION: With great racing throughout the day, fans were all pleased. Those who responded gave the event an ‘A’ grade, not one person feeling disappointed. When a short track shows up on the schedule, the real winners are the people watching all the action.

The win shattered an 83-race winless streak, Busch’s last win coming at Dover in 2011. Since then, the driver has changed his way, adjusting the sails that help guide his life. Watching Kurt Busch succeed contrasts the situations in seasons past, and, when the racing is phenomenal, people can’t help but be thrilled. That’s short track racing.

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