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There's just no stopping Busch
By Kevin Schmit | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/12/2008 11:56 PM

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Looks like the only thing that might slow down Kyle Busch is a tired back.

For the seventh time this season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series front-runner took his trademark bow to the crowd following another victory at Saturday's 400 at Joliet's Chicagoland Speedway.

Widening his lead atop the overall standings, Busch swept the weekend races for his first wins at the track and became the first driver to win the Sprint Cup race from the pole.

It wasn't easy.

Jimmie Johnson, who took the lead from Busch with 17 laps to go, led on a restart with only two laps left. Johnson stayed at the bottom of the track, which Busch said he anticipated, so Busch went to the outside and completed the pivotal pass in Turn 3.

When Johnson clipped the wall on the final lap, Busch secured the win he didn't expect.

"I don't know how I did that," said Busch, who also won Friday's Nationwide race. "This is a dream season, man. I just cannot believe this."

Busch's celebration was interrupted when his car got stuck in the muddy grass, but he soon freed the car, emerged with checkered flag in hand and took what's become a near-weekly traditional bow to the mass of fans.

The finish was a disappointment for Johnson, the two-time defending Sprint Cup champion who felt he made a mistake staying on the bottom after the restart. Like Busch, Johnson was looking for his first Sprint Cup win at the track.

"I really wasn't thinking defense," Johnson said. "We had such a good car, I thought I would get away from him on the restart. So looking back, if I could do it over again I would have played more defense on that restart."

Johnson finished second followed by two-time race-winner Kevin Harvick, who moved from 13th to ninth in the points standings and into the Race for the Chase. Clint Bowyer dropped from 10th to 13th and out of the Chase standings with a 22nd-place finish.

"I thought we might sneak one through there, but still, a good night for us and an exciting finish," said Harvick, who posted his first top-10 finish in two months.

As a sold-out crowd of 75,000 fans settled in for the first Sprint Cup race run under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway, Busch opened up a two-second lead after only 20 laps. He continued to lead after a competition caution at Lap 35. Carl Edwards reeled him in after that, taking the lead until ignition problems for Denny Hamlin forced a second caution.

A splitter issue ruined the night for Edwards, who finished 32nd, while fellow Chase competitor Hamlin was 40th. Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart, last year's winner, rounded out the top five.

Throughout the night Busch kept beating his toughest competitors off pit road following a caution, which allowed him to repeatedly pull away on restarts. Johnson also pulled away in the waning laps before that last caution brought him back to the pack.

Busch knew it was his window of opportunity.

"Without that caution the race was over," Busch said. "When that caution came out it kind of changed everything."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled with a tight car all night, falling to 30th before rallying for a 16th-place finish to remain second in the points standings. Jeff Burton, third in the points standings, ran into trouble during the competition caution when he missed his pit box and made contact with Jamie McMurray. Burton finished 19th.

Busch became the sixth different winner in the eight Sprint Cup races run at Chicagoland Speedway.