It was time for Kyle Busch to finally win a Sprint Cup race at Martinsville (Virginia) Speedway. The clock said so. The defending Sprint Cup Champion had never won a Ridgeway grandfather clock, the trophy awarded to the race winner in both the spring and fall races.
Busch dominated the field on Sunday, racing to a convincing victory in Sunday’s STP 500. He held off A. J. Allmendinger, who was also going for his first Martinsville victory, by about one-half second to claim the victory and the clock.
“To win in Martinsville is pretty cool,” said Busch from Victory lane. “I finally get to take a clock home.”
It was a weekend sweep for the Las Vegas native as he won Saturday’s truck race, but his Sprint Cup win was a long time coming. He was zero for 32 coming into Sunday’s race.
Up-and-coming drivers dotted the top 10, along with seasoned veterans. Kyle Larson was third and Austin Dillon was fourth followed by former NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski.
Carl Edwards was sixth followed by Brian Vickers, who is filling in for the injured Tony Stewart. Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rallied from an early incident to finish in the 14th position.
No one had the horsepower to seriously compete with Busch. He led 352 of the 500 laps around the half-mile, paper clip-shaped track. Kevin Harvick, who finished 17th, led 72 laps.
One final opportunity to deny Busch the victory came when Jamie McMurray spun late in the race after a flat tire. On the restart with 12 laps remaining, Matt Kenseth lined up beside Busch on the outside.
Busch was able to again get out in front of the field, while Kenseth was pushed backward, ultimately finishing 15th just in front of Danica Patrick.
“That was the key to the race to be able to start on the bottom,” said Busch.
By Martinsville standards, the race was tame. Contrary to some races where the cars resemble participants in a demolition derby at the end, only eight cautions for 51 laps interrupted the competition.
The series moves to the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday for the Duck Commander 500. It will be the first night race of the 2016 season.