Originally created 03/28/04

Truex grabs Busch victory



BRISTOL, Tenn. - Martin Truex Jr. won his first NASCAR Busch Series race Saturday, pulling away after a restart nine laps from the finish in the Sharpie Professional 250, which ended in confusion and anger at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Truex, in his 20th race and first full season on the Busch series, gave Chance 2 Motorsports co-owners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and stepmother Teresa Earnhardt their first Busch victory by a driver other than Little E.

"Dale Jr. is a class act, giving me this opportunity," Truex said after celebrating with a smoking burnout on the front straightaway. "I told him I would make the most of it. I think we can go on and win the championship."

Truex is the first Busch regular to win a race this year. The previous events were won by Nextel Cup stars Earnhardt, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle.

There weren't very many other happy drivers after the race, which ended under caution.

NASCAR stopped the race for just over eight minutes to clean the track after Robby Gordon ran into the back of Tim Fedewa's car and spewed water from a broken radiator on lap 233 of the 250-lap event.

After the green flag came back out on lap 242, there was some very hard racing for position.

On the next trip around the half-mile concrete oval, David Stremme bumped past Harvick for fourth place. On lap 248, Harvick hit Stremme from behind and put him in the wall. Both continued racing and NASCAR left the race under green.

Half a lap later, Biffle hit Johnny Sauter, sending Sauter sliding sideways, and the green flag remained out.

Finally, NASCAR had to wave the eighth caution flag of the day on lap 249 when Johnny Benson and Stremme crashed as Benson tried to drive past the battered car for a top-five finish.

As the field finished the race under caution, Mike Bliss, who was second, apparently got confused and pulled into the pits on the front straightaway, giving up the runner-up spot to Harvick. Bliss wound up driving across the finish line on pit road and in 17th.

It appeared that a number of cars made passes on the final lap, a violation under NASCAR's rule that freezes the field when a yellow comes out.

Tempers flared and there were a number of heated arguments and accusations after the race. The NASCAR hauler looked like a meeting hall as drivers and crew chiefs crowded in with complaints about finishing position or to be chastised by NASCAR for their actions.