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NASCAR: Kyle Busch wins at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. -- Kyle Busch claimed his first win of 2015 with a victory in Sunday's Toyota/SaveMart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

Kyle Busch
Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) celebrates in the winner’s circle after the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday in Sonoma, Calif. (Ed Szczepanski / USA TODAY Sports)

SONOMA, Calif. - Kyle Busch claimed his first win of 2015 with a victory in Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.
“This is awesome; it’s unbelievable. Can’t say enough about my team, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said. “I don’t know if they can all understand how it feels. There’s some sentimental fans out there, for sure, the ones that are cheering that normally wouldn’t cheer for me. It’s definitely special to be here in victory lane in a Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma.”
On newer tires, Busch drove up from seventh to second in one lap on a restart with seven laps to go, then got by Jimmie Johnson for the lead one lap later.
“I felt like the sooner the better,” Busch said. “I couldn’t let him (Johnson) hold me up. I couldn’t let him break my momentum and everything I had going. It would just take too long for me to get it back.”
Several other drivers also passed Johnson in the closing laps, dropping him outside the top five. Kurt Busch finished second, Clint Bowyer third, Kevin Harvick fourth, and Joey Logano fifth.
“Gene Haas (car owner) has given everything to me, and I wanted to deliver a win for him,” Kurt Busch said. “It was an incredible drive all day. The car was fast. I thought we had the right sequence. Kyle got a lucky break when that yellow came out and he got onto pit road, and there were just too many cars between me and him on some of those restarts. I just didn’t quite get the restarts I needed.”
The yellow flag waved for the fifth and final time with just over 10 laps remaining. Johnson stayed out while other front-runners, including Bowyer and Kyle Busch, pitted.
Bowyer and Busch were the first two off pit road and lined up sixth and seventh, respectively, for the restart. Meanwhile, Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon lined up second and third after staying out with Johnson.
“I saw there were a bunch of cars between myself and the first guy on (new) tires,” Johnson said. “I felt pretty good about things. And then after about a lap and a half, I wasn’t feeling so good about things. They were there quickly. But if we came back tomorrow, we’d still run the same strategy. We played it perfectly.”
Two quick cautions between laps 74 and 78 of the 110-lap race left all drivers good to go the remaining distance without additional trips to pit road. Johnson was up front for the restart that followed the lap-78 caution, with Bowyer and Busch in second and third. As Johnson maintained the lead, Busch and Bowyer battled back and forth for second.
A.J. Allmendinger and Kurt Busch started the race on the front row, with Allmendinger on the pole. Busch took the lead at the start, and he and Allmendinger ran first and second until the first caution of the race for David Gilliland on lap 21.
Jeff Gordon moved up to third on lap eight and ran third to Busch and Allmendinger until the first yellow flag.
When the caution came out, the top three were among those who headed for the pits while eight cars stayed out. As a result, those three restarted ninth, 10th and 11th.
Bowyer and Tony Stewart preferred to stick to a two-stop strategy, while most of the six other cars that stayed out pitted earlier under green.
Bowyer was passed by Kyle Busch for the lead when the race restarted, while Stewart dropped back several spots. Bowyer and Stewart made their first stops during a lap 28 caution for Martin Truex Jr.
As a result of the wreck, Truex wound up outside the top 10 for only the second time through the 16 races this season.
“It’s just a product of restarts here,” Truex said of the incident. “When you are in mid-pack, it’s not a good place to be. It’s just really congested. We were a lot faster than a couple of guys around us. You’re trying not to get run over. You’ve got to make moves.”
Allmendinger and Kurt Busch were back inside the top five for the restart following a yellow and red flag for Truex’s incident. Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray restarted on the front row.
Allmendinger and Kurt Busch quickly got up to second and third and then Busch took second from Allmendinger and the lead from Kyle Busch on lap 40. Allmendinger followed him to retake second.
Busch and Allmendinger gave up the top two spots to pit under green just before the halfway point of the race, handing the lead over to Johnson. Allmendinger’s bid for the win went away a few laps later with an additional 25-second pit stop to remedy a mechanical issue and then a related trip to the garage to change the fuel cell in his No. 47 Chevrolet.
“The car was good,” Allmendinger said. “I thought we had a better chance of winning this year than we did last year. It was still going to be tough.”
Busch eventually worked his way back up to second, with Johnson one-third of a lap ahead. Johnson had yet to make a second pit stop.
Johnson, utilizing a two-stop strategy, gave up a 28-second lead to pit for the final time with 43 laps to go. Busch reassumed the lead.
NOTES: Jeff Gordon is a five-time winner and five-time pole sitter at Sonoma Raceway. He finished second at Sonoma in 2014 and 2013. ... A.J. Allmendinger was the most recent road course winner, winning at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) last year. ... Carl Edwards won last year at Sonoma Raceway. ... Kyle Larson set a track qualifying record on Saturday with a 96.568 mph lap in the first round of qualifying. He started fourth and Allmendinger started on the pole after posting a 96.310 mph lap in the second round. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr’s team had to replace the transmission in the No. 88 Chevrolet after qualifying, but Earnhardt still started the race in his original 20th spot, as NASCAR rules allow for a transmission change at a road course. ... The Sonoma race is the first of two road courses on the Sprint Cup schedule. The other is at Watkins Glen in August.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sunday
Sonoma, Calif.
Lap Length: 1.99 miles
1. (11) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 110 laps, 118.2 rating, 43.0 points, $315,481
2. (2) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 110, 137.7, 42.0, $222,630
3. (6) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 110, 112.3, 41.0, $191,988
4. (17) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 110, 109.7, 40.0, $183,230
5. (19) Joey Logano, Ford, 110, 91.4, 39.0, $166,638
6. (13) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 110, 123.5, 38.0, $162,406
7. (20) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 110, 106.9, 37.0, $122,995
8. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 110, 97.8, 36.0, $118,895
9. (16) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 110, 89.6, 35.0, $135,420
10. (24) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 110, 70.7, 34.0, $132,065
11. (18) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 110, 80.9, 33.0, $129,976
12. (7) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 110, 90.7, 32.0, $126,674
13. (32) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 110, 69.7, 31.0, $106,060
14. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 110, 73.0, 30.0, $133,846
15. (4) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 110, 98.3, 29.0, $124,618
16. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 110, 82.3, 28.0, $139,846
17. (37) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 110, 66.6, 27.0, $131,271
18. (15) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 110, 63.2, 26.0, $108,485
19. (10) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 110, 70.4, 25.0, $137,901
20. (40) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 110, 58.9, 24.0, $101,135
21. (3) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 110, 73.2, 23.0, $129,421
22. (29) Cole Whitt, Ford, 110, 59.5, 22.0, $109,493
23. (31) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 110, 49.2, 21.0, $131,885
24. (21) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 110, 61.6, 20.0, $98,160
25. (36) Alex Kennedy, Chevrolet, 110, 46.7, 19.0, $107,193
26. (33) Boris Said, Ford, 110, 43.0, 0.0, $99,868
27. (22) Greg Biffle, Ford, 110, 67.5, 17.0, $119,393
28. (38) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 109, 38.2, 16.0, $87,685
29. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 109, 43.3, 15.0, $99,118
30. (35) Justin Marks, Ford, 109, 35.2, 0.0, $88,810
31. (41) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 109, 35.5, 13.0, $96,182
32. (43) Jeb Burton, Toyota, 109, 29.4, 12.0, $83,965
33. (42) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 109, 31.0, 11.0, $83,855
34. (23) Michael McDowell, Ford, 109, 46.9, 10.0, $83,720
35. (27) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 107, 58.6, 9.0, $91,555
36. (39) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 99, 28.8, 0.0, $83,470
37. (1) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 98, 100.0, 7.0, $113,795
38. (8) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, Axle, 97, 68.4, 6.0, $85,913
39. (9) David Ragan, Toyota, Accident, 78, 74.2, 5.0, $101,064
40. (14) Carl Edwards, Toyota, Accident, 78, 70.5, 4.0, $69,850
41. (34) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, Accident, 71, 37.9, 0.0, $65,850
42. (12) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 31, 58.1, 2.0, $88,195
43. (28) David Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 20, 36.1, 1.0, $66,350
Race Statistics
Average Speed of Race Winner: 74.774 mph
Time of Race: 2 hours, 55 minutes, 39 seconds
Margin of Victory: 0.532 seconds
Lead Changes: 9
NASCAR Driver Rating Formula
A maximum of 150 points can be attained in a race.
The formula combines the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish

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