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From The Marbles

Kurt Busch recovers from early incident to pass Jimmie Johnson for Martinsville win

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Sunday summed up Kurt Busch.

He ran into Brad Keselowski on pit road in the very early stages of the race and subsequently exclaimed over his in-car radio that his race was ruined and he'd fight Keselowski afterwards when the two made contact on the track.

There was no fight and no ruined race. Why? Because Busch worked his way back to the front and passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead with 10 laps to go to win the STP 500 at Martinsville.

Radio overreaction? Check. Feud with another driver? Check. Proof that he's got some of the best raw driving talent in NASCAR? Check.

"I didn't know if we'd be able to do it," Busch said. "(Johnson) is king here. Him and (Jeff Gordon). And this is that old theory 'If you can't beat them, join them.' And I have a Hendrick chassis prepared by Stewart-Haas Racing, a Hendrick motor ... I've been on this journey for a while."

"And every time you come to Martinsville you just kind of draw a line through it. 'There's no way I'll be able to challenge those Hendrick guys or be up in that top 10.' This Stewart-Haas team gave me a car to do it."

Busch, who joined SHR before the 2014 season, was a previous Martinsville winner. He won with Roush Racing in 2002. But he hadn't finished in the top five since 2005.

Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup champion, has a ridiculously good record at Martinsville with eight wins and an average finish of fifth. When he passed Busch for the lead with 17 laps to go, win number nine looked imminent. But his car kept getting looser and looser and Busch pounced back.

Busch collided with Keselowski on pit road when Keselowski stomped the brakes and ran into the back of Kaey Kahne. The left side of Busch's car mangled the front chassis of Keselowski's car as Busch attempted to skirt by, and the impact triggered the exclamation from Busch that his day was done.

While Busch was mad at the damage to his car, Keselowski was furious with Busch, wishing that Busch would have been patient and slowed down and saying Busch needed to curb his recklessness.

After Keselowski's team fixed the damage to his car in the garage he found himself near Busch on track and gave him a middle-finger salute before the two banged sheet-metal with each other. That triggered those threats of a post-race confrontation from Busch's radio, but when asked about it in victory lane, he didn't want to think (or talk) about it.

"We won and we're not worried about any of that nonsense right now," Busch said.

If the race did give us a microcosm of Busch's career, it wasn't an exact replica. In previous years, it wouldn't have been at all surprising if Busch's anger from the incident would have boiled over and led to another issue or two.

Instead, Busch climbed through the field in the laps after his team fixed the damage to his car, and it wasn't long to when he was back in the top 20. And then the top 10. And then the top five. And then in victory lane for the first time in 83 races.

A year after making the Chase with Furniture Row Racing, Busch is now virtually guaranteed to be there again. To do that, he not only joined them but also beat them. Is it the start of a potent combination?

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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