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Kyle Busch wins Atlanta, locks up Chase spot

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 1, 2013 at 11:45 pm •  Published: September 1, 2013
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HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Kyle Busch's pit crew got his car running like he wanted, then got him on the track ahead of everyone else.

The volatile driver took it from there, locking up a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship that slipped away last year.

Busch held off hard-charging Joey Logano at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night for his fourth Cup victory of the year, giving him plenty of momentum heading to the playoffs.

A year ago, he didn't even make the 12-car field — a bitter disappointment for a driver of his talent.

"It's a whole different situation than 365 days ago," Busch said. "We needed to prove to ourselves that we're a championship contender."

Busch spit out some salty complaints over his radio in the early going, the No. 18 Toyota not performing like he wanted. The crew kept making adjustments until the driver liked the way it handled.

Then, after a rapid-fire series of caution flags near the end, Busch emerged from the pits with the lead. He comfortably beat Logano to the line by 0.740 seconds.

"My boys on pit road," Busch said. "They're amazing. I would do anything for them."

The 28-year-old is undoubtedly one of the most gifted drivers in NASCAR, earning his 16th win of the year in the top three series. He also has nine victories in Nationwide and three in trucks.

Overall, this was his 121st career victory in those series, 28 of them in Cup.

But Busch is still seeking the prize he really wants — a Cup title.

"The championship is number one on anybody's list," he said. "You want to be the best in your realm of racing. I'm a NASCAR driver. I want to win a championship. I've yet to collect the big prize. One of these days it will happen. Maybe it'll be 2013. Hopefully, it is."

Martin Truex Jr., racing with a broken right wrist, was third on the 1.54-mile trioval, followed by Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.

The rest of the top 10: Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers.

Kyle Busch was among four more drivers locking up their spot in the Chase heading to Richmond next weekend, where the 12-car field will be set for the playoff. He was joined by Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne. .

Points leader Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth had already claimed playoff berths before Atlanta.

That means the final five will be determined at Richmond.

Logano is one of the top contenders for those remaining spots, going into Richmond eighth in the points and also holding a victory as a wild-card backstop. He had the fastest car on the track at the end of the race, but ran out of time to run down Busch.

"It's just frustrating," Logano said. "But in the grand scheme of things, it's a big points day for us to get into the Chase going to Richmond. This helps us a lot. A win would've helped a lot more."

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