March 9, 2008 - Hampton, GA - Kyle Busch earned Toyota's inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) win Sunday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway, leading 173 laps in the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry en route to Victory Lane.
Busch became the first driver to sweep the NSCS and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) races in the same weekend with his second consecutive NCTS victory on Friday night.
Busch started sixth and was strong throughout the 325-lap, 500-mile NSCS race on the 1.5-mile Georgia oval. The decisive moment of the race came during the eighth and final caution period on lap 282, when the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew won the race off pit road, keeping Busch in the lead when the green flag dropped for the final 37 laps. The 22-year-old Las Vegas-native was the first to see the checkered flag, winning by a 2.066-second margin over teammate Tony Stewart for his fifth-career NSCS win.
"This is pretty special," said Busch, following the race. "We are fortunate to have Toyota on our side with the support they give us and for me, to win the first race for Toyota is great. I'm sure they wanted it sooner, but I was glad I was able to do it."
The victory for Toyota came in its 40th Sprint Cup Series race since joining the series at the beginning of the 2007 season.
"This is a fabulous day for Toyota to win in this prestigious series," said Jim Aust, Vice President of motorsports for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and President and CEO of TRD (Toyota Racing Development), following the race. "It is just a fabulous feeling. We are just feeling really great about the whole decision to move into the Cup Series as well as for all of the employees of Toyota to have this great day."
Stewart finished second in the No. 20 Home Depot Camry, his best result in a Toyota. He started 32nd, but worked his way through the field during the race, getting his car to handle the best during the last run to secure his third top-10 finish of the season.
Brian Vickers, who led one lap, finished ninth in the No. 83 Red Bull Camry, his third top-12 run in four races, to give Toyota three Camrys in the top-10.
Other Camry drivers in the field included Denny Hamlin (15th), David Reutimann (20th), Dale Jarrett (26th), Mike Skinner (27th), Michael Waltrip (30th), Dave Blaney (34th) and J.J. Yeley (37th).
With the victory, Busch retains the NSCS points lead leaving Atlanta, now holding a 73-point advantage over Greg Biffle (665-592). Camry drivers Stewart (eighth, 525 points) and Vickers (ninth, 491 points) are also in the top-10 in the point standings after four of 36 races.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action March 16 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Atlanta, Busch led 153 of 198 laps and looked as if he would record his first NNS victory in a Camry, but a blown right-front tire on lap 172 kept him out of Victory Lane. Busch, who started second in the race, went on to finish in 24th place.
Two Camrys recorded top-10 finishes -- Jason Leffler, who led one lap, finished eighth in the No. 38 Great Clips Camry and David Reutimann finished 10th in the Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota.
Toyotas have recorded 10 top-10 finishes in the first four NNS races of 2008.
"Obviously we had the dominant car," said Busch, following the race. "Farm Bureau and Toyota should be real proud, I'm just sorry about the fact that we blew another right-front tire."
Other Toyota drivers who competed in the field were Mike Wallace (17th) and Brian Vickers (22nd).
The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes place at Bristol Motor Speedway, March 15.
In Friday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race, Busch battled back from early handling problems and worked his way to the front of the field -- after falling to the back of the pack early -- to win his second consecutive NCTS race.
It was Toyota's third consecutive Craftsman Truck Series win to start the season and also marked Busch's third career NCTS win at Atlanta and his eighth career series triumph. It was the 41st win for Toyota since joining the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season.
Busch started third in the No. 51 Misccosukee Resorts Tundra and led the field five times for 39 laps -- including the final 15 circuits. He stopped for four new tires on lap 114 of the 130-lap event. Shortly before that, it began to rain at the Atlanta oval, bringing out the yellow caution flag. Busch moved to the front of the field when the leaders pitted on lap 115.
"I was surprised that nobody followed me (to pit road), and Ron (Hornaday) didn't come down," said Busch, after the race. "Normally, you do what the leader does, but I think Richie (Wauters, crew chief) made a great call coming down pit road for those four tires. The guys on pit road did a great job tonight. We had the hood up on the truck, had the track bar down eight rounds and had four rounds in the left rear. I don't even know what else we did."
Mike Skinner crossed the finish line third in the No. 5 Tundra, behind race-winner Busch and last year's series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr.
Other Toyota drivers in the field were Ted Musgrave (seventh), Terry Cook (eighth), Todd Bodine (ninth), Justin Marks (14th), Phillip McGilton (16th), David Starr (21st) and Johnny Benson (30th).
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action March 29 at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway 1st, KYLE BUSCH 2nd, TONY STEWART 9th, BRIAN VICKERS 15th, DENNY HAMLIN 20th, DAVID REUTIMANN 26th, DALE JARRETT 27th, MIKE SKINNER 30th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 34th, DAVE BLANEY 37th, J.J. YELEY Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings – following Atlanta Motor Speedway** 1st, KYLE BUSCH 665 points 8th, TONY STEWART 525 points 9th, BRIAN VICKERS 491 points 19th, DENNY HAMLIN 413 points 27th, DAVID REUTIMANN 358 points 32nd, DALE JARRETT 315 points 33rd, MICHAEL WALTRIP 303 points 35th, J.J. YELEY 298 points 37th, DAVE BLANEY 273 points ** unofficial point standings Toyota NNS Driver Finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway 8th, JASON LEFFLER 10th, DAVID REUTIMANN 17th, MIKE WALLACE 22nd, BRIAN VICKERS 24th, KYLE BUSCH Toyota Drivers in NNS Point Standings -- following Atlanta Motor Speedway** 3rd, KYLE BUSCH 531 points 6th, DAVID REUTIMANN 503 points 7th, TONY STEWART 472 points 9th, MIKE WALLACE 469 points 12th, JASON LEFFLER 429 points 28th, BRIAN VICKERS 322 points 44th, DENNY HAMLIN 147 points 53rd, MICHAEL McDOWELL 82 points ** unofficial point standings Toyota NCTS Driver Finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway 1st, KYLE BUSCH 3rd, MIKE SKINNER 7th, TED MUSGRAVE 8th, TERRY COOK 9th, TODD BODINE 14th, JUSTIN MARKS 16th, PHILLIP McGILTON 21st, DAVID STARR 30th, JOHNNY BENSON Toyota Drivers in NCTS Point Standings – following Atlanta Motor Speedway** 1st, KYLE BUSCH 555 points 2nd, TODD BODINE 483 points 5th, JOHNNY BENSON 413 points 7th, MIKE SKINNER 393 points 8th, DAVID STARR 384 points 10th, PHILLIP McGILTON 376 points 11th, TERRY COOK 375 points 12th, TED MUSGRAVE 375 points 18th, JUSTIN MARKS 327 points ** unofficial point standings
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