Sunday, August 24, 2003

Busch bumps way to win

The Associated Press

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kurt Busch avoided any post-race punches but was in the middle of the usual bumping and banging in yet another win at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night.

Busch, punched in the face by Jimmy Spencer after last week's race in Michigan, kept his head held high amid a flood of criticism from his competitors, raucous booing from the fans - and of course, the chipped tooth and swollen nose Spencer gave him.

He instead put his focus on the Sharpie 500, running away from Kevin Harvick to score his fourth win of the season and third in the last four races at Bristol.

But it didn't come without controversy.

Busch spun out Sterling Marlin midway through the race as he tried to pass Marlin for second place, and knew immediately it didn't help his cause.

"I look like an idiot again," he sighed.

Maybe so, but it didn't really matter how he looked once he got to Victory Lane.

"Kurt went through a tough week and he came out strong. He's a tough guy," crew chief Jimmy Fenning said.

If he heard the thundering boos showered on him in Victory Lane from the crowd of 160,000, he didn't let on.

"This is by far the biggest win; this beats all of my wins," Busch said. "It is so sweet to come here with all of the things that dragged me down to get here."

It was reminiscent of 1999, when the late Dale Earnhardt was drowned out by boos after bumping past Terry Labonte for the win at Bristol.

"The late Dale Sr. once told me the guy with the most noise wins," Busch said.

Harvick finished second in a Chevrolet.

"I hate losing to Rubberhead," Harvick said, not bothering to mask his disdain for Busch.

Rookie Jamie McMurray was third in a Dodge, Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth was fourth in a Ford and Jimmie Johnson was fifth in a Chevrolet.

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