Busch’s victory raises hope for what season can be

Topics: From the Wires, ,

Busch's victory raises hope for what season can beDriver Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Martinsville, Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Shappard)(Credit: AP)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Busch couldn’t be more delighted with his move to Stewart-Haas Racing.

Six races into the marriage, he ended an 83-race winless streak Sunday at Martinsville Speedway and said he’s learning that a better approach to being an actual participant in a team pays big dividends.

“I ran a lot of my early part of my career as an individual and I didn’t respect my team, my team owners,” Busch said, adding that working with co-owner Tony Stewart is helping him learn a better way.

Busch won by passing Martinsville master Jimmie Johnson for the lead with 10 laps to go and holding off the eight-time winner to win at the track for the first time since October 2002. It was his 25th career Cup-level victory, and Busch seemed enthralled that it came in the most unlikely of venues.

“You’ve got to put life in perspective, and you have to learn from your mistakes and you can’t just sit there and try to muscle your way individually through certain situations,” he said about 450 laps after a pit road confrontation with Brad Keselowski, whose on-track retaliation had Busch threatening to rearrange his face. “And so you rely on your experience level, you rely on your team, and this is a great day for me to be able to lift the trophy in Victory Lane for Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Johnson, with eight wins in 25 career starts on the 0.526-mile oval, led 11 times for 296 laps. He seemed on his way to another victory when he took the lead from Busch with 17 laps remaining. But Busch stayed close, ducked underneath Johnson seven laps later and Johnson had no means to challenge again.

“That’s all I had,” Johnson said. “Man, I ran the rear tires off the car. I flipped every switch and knob I could in there to get front brake and turn fans off and try to help bring my balance back.”

Busch held on, his first top-10 finish at Martinsville in his last 17 starts there.

The race featured an event-record 33 lead changes, and Johnson expected there would be one more when he retook the lead with 17 laps to go, but on a slippery day after a rainy weekend on the smallest circuit in NASCAR’s premier series, the cars at the end weren’t conducive to typical short-track racing.

“I think the lack of security in our own car kept us from feeling more racy and putting a bumper to someone or really getting inside someone aggressively,” Johnson said of the rather gentlemanly finish.



Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third, followed by Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose.

Here are five other things to know after NASCAR’s sixth race of the season:

STILL NO REPEATS: Through six races, there have been six different pole-sitters and six different race-winners, a trend that is causing some winners to rethink their stance that with a win, they’re essentially in the 16-driver playoffs for the final 10 races of the season. Winning certainly gives each of them a leg up because of how much weight it carries in determining the Chase field, but as long as new drivers keep doing burnouts after each race, there’s no telling how many winners there will be.

There are 26 races before the Chase.

GENE GENE, THE DOUBTING MACHINE: Gene Haas was not present for the first victory by the team he funds, and admitted by telephone after Busch’s victory that he was resigned to Jimmie Johnson prevailing.

“I was thinking that we would probably pull out in front of Jimmie Johnson and be there for a few laps, but (Johnson) was better on the long run,” Haas said. “I was kind of like going, ‘Well hey, at least we made a good show.’” Busch also told his new boss via text earlier in the week that Martinsville was his worst track, and then was hardly able to practice because all of Saturday’s activity was rained out.

“He doesn’t practice on Saturday and he wins,” Haas said. “We have a new formula here.”

POINTS RACE: Don’t look now, because it’s still really early, but Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sports’ most popular driver, leads the points race and leads with four top-5 finishes in six races.

Could this be the year that Dale Jr. finally has the year his fans have been waiting for?

FALLIBLE JIMMIE? Johnson led 11 times for 296 laps on Sunday.

When it was noted that Johnson has had several instances in recent years where his dominance in a race hasn’t always led to a victory like he’s accustomed to, he first joked about it, then agreed.

But, he said, Sunday’s outcome wasn’t an example of the kind of failure being suggested.

“Today I couldn’t have done any more,” Johnson said. “I just got beat.”

NON WINNERS: Six weeks into the season, with six winners, words like ‘parity’ are starting to be bandied about.

Knee-jerk? Consider: among the drivers that have yet to win a race this season are Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Johnson, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer. That’s a whole bunch of perennial contenders waiting to show they are contenders again.

___

Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...