Youngest Nextel Cup race winner shakes up points race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) - Kyle Busch elbowed his way into the spotlight with a record-setting victory at California Speedway.

With nearly everyone focused on the battle for the final spots in the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship, the 20-year-old Busch stole the show Sunday night with his first career victory. He became the youngest winner in NASCAR's top stock car series.

At the end of the Sony HD 500, with only one more race before the start of the 10-man, 10-race finale, the bottom of the top 10 in the Cup point standings was shaken up, with Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray moving in and Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon falling out.

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That tense battle, however, was not on the mind of Busch, the brother of reigning Cup champion Kurt Busch, as he celebrated his breakthrough victory at California Speedway.

''It's unbelievable,'' said the rookie whose previous best finishes were seconds this year in Las Vegas and Dover. ''We should have been here at least five times this year, but we haven't been able to close the deal.''

The previous youngest winner was Donald Thomas, who was four days older than Busch when he won in Atlanta in November 1952.

Driving a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, Busch led 95 laps on the way to the victory in his 31st career start.

Busch was leading on lap 240 when debris brought out the 10th of 11 cautions in the race. With the race scheduled to end on lap 250, Busch faked as if he was going to pit on lap 241 and, when all the other leaders followed, he went ahead and pitted.

His crew put on only two tires and Busch was able to beat everyone else back onto the track and hold the lead to the end.