Hartford native Dave Blaney finished third in the Busch race at Daytona.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Busch saw several cars clustered around the inside lane and another one crawling along in the outside lane.
He felt he had no choice but to swerve right, driving through the grass, passing several cars and taking the lead coming off pit road.
It turned out to be Busch’s best move of the race.
The risky maneuver propelled Busch to the front and eventually to his first NASCAR victory at Daytona International Speedway — a win in the rain-delayed Busch Series race Saturday morning.
“It was either that or stop,” Busch said. “Some of those guys were lost on pit road. I’m not sure what’s going on with that. It was kind of a cluster. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get busted.”
NASCAR officials reviewed the move, but decided not to penalize Busch. They warned him, though, telling him not to do it again. Busch obliged and picked up his eighth career series win — his first since March 26, 2006, at Bristol.
NASCAR started reviewing another aspect of Busch’s car after the race. Officials confiscated the front springs from his Chevrolet and were sending them to the research and development center in North Carolina for review.
The sanctioning body said the spring rates were “slightly under” the minimum allowed by rule. Officials said results would be released next week.
It’s not likely NASCAR would strip Busch of his victory, but the inspection could lead to more sanctions for Hendrick Motorsports, which had two of its Nextel Cup teams fined and docked points two weeks ago. Crew chiefs for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson also were suspended.
“It was definitely a good race car,” said Busch, whose only other win at Daytona came in a 2004 ARCA race. “All we had to do was keep it out front and keep the mistakes to a minimum. Really there were none today.”
Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick came from the back of the field several times and finished second, followed by Hartford native Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer. Series points leader Carl Edwards crossed the finish line 11th, three spots ahead of defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The top eight spots went to Nextel Cup regulars. None of them had enough to beat Busch.
Busch led four times for 65 laps and ended a string of bad luck at the sport’s most famous track.
He celebrated the win with a burnout and a beer shower in Victory Lane, then joined 19 other drivers in retreating to their motorhomes to rest up for the Nextel Cup event scheduled about nine hours later — a rare day-night doubleheader created when rain washed out the Busch race Friday night.