© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2002
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kurt Busch's victory Sunday in the Martinsville 500 gave him two career wins, both on short tracks.
But this one was unlike the first.
In that race, he nudged Jimmy Spencer's car aside with 55 laps to go at Bristol, Tenn., leaving Spencer fuming about an unfair pass.
On Sunday, Busch had the lead with Johnny Benson on his bumper, but the banging was at a minimum even with Benson seeking his first win.
"He raced me great. I raced him great," Busch said.
The absence of postrace carping will make this victory more enjoyable "because who finished second was a very professional race car driver this weekend," Busch said.
Benson joked about bumping Busch's car a few times in the closing laps, but never enough to allow him to pull even or pass.
The last few laps also included another run-in with Spencer, Busch said, because Spencer didn't move aside to let the leaders fight to win.
"That's just the kind of professional that he is," Busch said.
BODINE WATCH: The race was Todd Bodine's first since he was placed on probation for the rest of the year for careless driving, and brothers Brett and Geoffrey made it a family affair.
Before 20 laps had been run, Brett Bodine's car clipped the rear of John Andretti's in Turn 4, spinning Andretti and bringing out a caution.
On Lap 101, Geoffrey Bodine, filling in for Kenny Wallace because he was racing in the Busch event in Memphis, spun out.
Geoffrey Bodine, with four career Winston Cup victories at Martinsville, later had the lead when he stayed out while the leaders pitted under caution, but he soon spun again and faded.
Todd Bodine stayed out of trouble and finished 30th, one lap down. Brett finished 38th and Geoffrey 39th, both three down.
FAST RECOVERY: Ricky Rudd and Casey Atwood both went two laps down when they cut tires within the first 10. Both had to labor slowly around the track and pit during green-flag racing.
But both got those laps back, thanks to cautions that sent the rest of the field onto pit road and fast cars that allowed Rudd, then Atwood to pass leader Dave Blaney after a restart on Lap 48.
Rudd worked his way into the top five before the race was half over and finished third. Atwood finished 21st and remained the only full-time driver in the series not to lead a lap this season.
TRACK DEFENDER: Rudd came to the defense of track president Clay Campbell after the race. Campbell had been criticized for grinding the lower groove in both turns to remove bumps without first consulting the drivers.
"I think Clay went from a zero to a hero, it looks like," he said, noting the new surface seemed to present no difficulties in the race.
NO-WIN SITUATION: Bill Elliott started his 40th race at Martinsville from the No. 3 position and was running ninth when he crashed with 76 to go. He has never won on NASCAR's smallest track.