Matt Kenseth wasn't sure he'd ever reach victory lane again. Not winning for two years will do that to the mind of even a former champion. An otherwise mundane race was somewhat spiced with desperate pit strategies -- and Carl Edwards may or may not have obliterated a bird, which he wryly noted is a bad move for a guy so associated with a duck.
"Our cars are good right now, and we are enjoying it," said Edwards, the new Sprint Cup points leader. "We just have to keep going."
"I didn't think we would be that much off to start the race," Addington said. "It seemed like when we adjusted on the car, we would get different results. It's a bit of a mystery. We had to use [a different] strategy and we really shouldn't have to do that. We should be up front challenging for wins. We just need to get a handle on this thing right now."
Busch was able to stretch his fuel to about four laps beyond the 54-lap projected window on his next-to-last stop, giving him the lead with 77 laps remaining. Forced to pit with 55 laps left, he surrendered the lead again, took it back as those on conventional strategy pitted -- waiting for an expected caution. But the last 114 laps, amazingly, were run caution-free, and Busch ceded the front spot and a nine-second lead for the final time to Kenseth with 13 laps left.
"Just a hard-fought battle all night," said Busch, who dropped another rung to fifth in points. "We qualified 10th, finished 10th. We led laps when we were off-sequence, but overall a hard fought battle to get the car dialed-in once again. We struggle to make adjustments as we go. We got something towards the end to make something of it."
At least Busch made it. Tony Stewart, on a similar tack, ran dry on the last lap and fell from third to 12th.
"Really, we just had one bad run and that was the one that got us caught a lap down and we just couldn't get it back," he said. "We stayed in the 'lucky dog' position for the last -- it seemed like 150 laps, but just never got the caution to capitalize on it. Just a little frustrating, but still once again we didn't have a 15th-place car. We had about a seventh or eighth-place car, somewhere in that neighborhood."