WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – There was no slipup on the final lap this time, so Kyle Busch’s victory celebration at Watkins Glen International was as sweet as it gets.
Bumped aside a year ago by Brad Keselowski on the final lap as they sped around an oil-covered track, Busch held the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion at bay on a two-lap dash to the checkered flag Sunday in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
Busch, who won by 0.486 seconds, kept his foot on the accelerator a tad longer than usual during his postrace burnout, even sticking half his body out the window while smoke swirled all around and the tires kept churning.
“A big sigh of relief, just a deep breath. Whew!” said Busch, who also was victimized two years ago while leading on a green-white-checkered finish and finished third. “I was just trying to take it all in and figure it all out. The last couple of years here have been tough, and today it could have been tough again.”
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Keselowski finished second in this race for the third straight time, and challenged Busch on the final lap, pulling to his rear bumper at one point. There was no bump this time.
“We had a shot at it,” Keselowski said. “I was going to have to wreck him to really get it, and I didn’t want to do that. There’s racing and there’s wrecking. Those are two different things. Everybody defines them a little differently, and I guess that’s the code you live your life by. If I was going to take out Kyle, it would have been wrecking in my mind, and there’s a distinct difference.”
Series leader Jimmie Johnson finished eighth of 43.
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 16th and Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw placed 34th.