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Speedfest: Busch steals show
NASCAR star wins late model race
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Race cars speed around the track during the Georgia Asphalt Series 100 as part of SpeedFest 2009 at the Lanier National Speedway in Braselton Sunday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

BRASELTON — With 20 wins on the NASCAR circuit in 2008, Kyle Busch has grown accustomed to victory laps and post-race celebrations. Sunday he was able to celebrate something he’s never done before: Winning a CRA Series event.

"Now every car in the shop has won a race," Busch said shortly after he won the CRA Super Late SpeedFest 200 at Lanier National Speedway. "You gotta give it to all my guys; they did a phenomenal job all week."

Starting in seventh position, the NASCAR star slowly crept his way toward the front of the pack. Using the outside lane on several restarts, Busch found himself in second place when the race hit the 100-lap midway point.

After a 10-minute intermission for gas and tires, Busch started the final 100 laps in third place due to the inverse rule, which allows the fourth-place driver to start the final 100 laps in first, while the first place driver starts in fourth.

That benefited Cleveland driver Jason Hogan the most, as he was placed on the pole to start the second half of the race.

But Hogan’s time in first was a short one, as Busch’s No. 51 car passed Hogan’s No. 92 on Lap 104 to take the lead for good.

Hogan finished in second place, nearly four car-lengths behind.

"This is my favorite race car," Busch said. "This is what I love to do, race Late Models. I’m in them as much as I can because of my passion for the sport."

While his talent behind the wheel led him to victory lane, Busch benefited from several of the top contenders failing to finish.

After leading the first 100 laps, pole sitter Casey Roderick suffered engine failure on Lap 175 after the eighth caution flag. Shane Sieg, driver of the No. 5 car, met the same fate.

Sieg ran in the top four throughout the first 100 laps and started in second after intermission, but was out of the race on Lap 118.

Buford driver Shane Sawyer’s race came to an abrupt end on Lap 138 when he was parked for the day after refusing to cooperate with race officials and move to the back of the field. It was a fitting end to a disappointing afternoon for Sawyer.

After leading 56 of the 100 laps in the first race of the day, the Georgia Asphalt Series 100, Sawyer suffered car problems when he rear-ended Greg Simpson on Lap 94. Sawyer’s misfortune was good for Simpson, as the Gainesville resident went on to win the 100-lap race.

In the top two for the entirety of the race, Simpson passed Kyle Fowler on the last lap to win. The pass came just one lap after Simpson was passed by Russell Fleeman.

"I didn’t really know right there at the end," said Simpson, who led 41 laps. "It seemed like every time I climbed a mountain, I had to climb two more.

"I just couldn’t give it up," he added. "It meant too much for me today."

That was evident from the start, as Simpson took the lead after the first turn of the race. Bumper to bumper with Sawyer for the majority of the afternoon, Simpson maintained his position thanks in large part to 15 caution flags.

After the final caution flag took out Sawyer, Fleeman got a jump on the restart to take the lead. It was the sixth lead change of the race.

The seventh and final lead change came on Simpson’s pass of Fowler, who finished second. Fleeman finished third.

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