No 'Busch' Leaguer: second-year driver wins Food City 500

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kurt Busch isn't a rookie anymore. Races last season knocked the Las Vegas native out of first-timer status, but he has another title after a Food City 500 win on Sunday: Food City 500 Champion.

Busch held off a determined Jimmy Spencer to win Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. In his 14th career start, the Roush Racing driver found his first win.

"It feels great to win," said Busch. "I hope we're able to win more this season. Bristol is a great place to race, period."

Busch gave Spencer a tap with 55 laps remaining to gain the lead he had lost just one lap before. Spencer then looked to get a jump after a restart later in the race. However, such would not be the case as Busch got out to a good jump, and raced on for the win.

After the race, Spencer was angry about Busch's tap.

"I never forget," Spencer said, watching Busch take his victory lap around the .533-mile track. "I won't forget what he did today."

Jeff Gordon drove a good race early in the day, but forced himself out of the event when he was running second and tried to get around Spencer but lost control of his car.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was also in line for the win. On lap 409, Jr. pitted for tires, eventually losing any hope he had of winning the race at one of his father, Dale Sr.'s favorite tracks. Earnhardt Jr. was involved in an altercation with Robbie Gordon in the race's late stages. The two could be fined for their actions, which saw both racers get into each other's cars.

Busch did something that very few Cup drivers do after they win a race nowadays. He did a victory run around the circuit. That's common. What isn't is the fact that he put the checkered flag out the window where the 150,000-plus Bristol Motor Speedway fans could get a good luck at it, and realize, if they didn't already, what the win meant to not just him, but his entire team and family.

A win couldn't make a team owner any more happier.

Jack Roush was very proud of his second-year driver and his first victory effort.

"Today is special," Roush said following the race. "We're very proud of Kurt and what he did here in getting his first Winston Cup win,"

"All of the guys with the 97 team have stepped up this year," he added. "They're all ready to race. Today was a great day for everyone associated with Jack Roush Racing, just because of Kurt's win. This is a great win. There's gonna be a lot more of that to come."

The young drivers and their crews have really stepped up for Roush this season. Matt Kenseth got the first win this season for Roush Racing in the second race of the season.

Veteran drivers Mark Martin and Jeff Burton, two other Roush drivers, have yet to make it to victory lane.

Finishing third behind Spencer was Ricky Rudd.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: