Busch overcomes road woes

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SONOMA, Calif. --- It certainly seemed as if Kurt Busch's season was in serious trouble just two months ago, when poor performances led to an intense radio tirade against his entire Penske Racing organization.

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Kurt Busch takes a victory lap after winning at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. It was Busch's first win of the season and his first victory on a road course. Busch was happy to finish ahead of Jeff Gordon, who wrecked Busch at the course last year.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Kurt Busch takes a victory lap after winning at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. It was Busch's first win of the season and his first victory on a road course. Busch was happy to finish ahead of Jeff Gordon, who wrecked Busch at the course last year.

What could have destroyed his race team has had the opposite effect.

Busch's impressive turnaround continued Sunday with a dominating run at Infineon Raceway, where he earned his first career road course victory and his first win of the season.

"We've been on a great run these last few weeks," Busch said. "To get a road course win, it's a big check mark on my list. It's just really neat to bring home that 'W.' "

Busch led a race-high 76 laps and beat Jeff Gordon by almost four seconds for his first win of the season. It's a marked turn for Busch, who unraveled over his team radio at Richmond in early May because of how poorly his Dodge had been running.

The rant led to behind-the-scenes changes at Penske Racing that have sparked both Busch and teammate Brad Keselowski, who won at Kansas earlier this month. Busch, despite three consecutive poles, was winless but inching closer.

Busch was winless in 10 career starts at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen, the only two road courses on the Sprint Cup circuit. Busch helped Keselowski finish 10th with advice and a tour of the track Friday.

"It's a good feeling to know that the two teams are working as closely together as they ever have," Busch said. "Knowing that Brad is definitely maturing, seeing him bust off a top 10 at a road course is great. We went around the race track, I pointed out some of the apex points, exit points, shifting points. He absorbed it like a sponge."

Beating Gordon made it extra special for Busch, who was one of many drivers wrecked by Gordon here last year. It was fresh in his memory when he arrived, and one of the first things Busch said was that Gordon had apologized to every driver he wrecked last year but Busch.

"It was a definite boost at the end of the day, to see him finish second," Busch said with a smile.

Gordon congratulated Busch in Victory Lane but said later, "I still didn't apologize."

Carl Edwards, who skipped Saturday's Nationwide Series race, finished third. Clint Bowyer took fourth, Marcos Ambrose was fifth and pole-winner Joey Logano sixth.

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