Kurt Busch held off Jeff Gordon in a dramatic overtime finish to win the Kobalt Tools 500 Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"That was an incredible race; it was unbelievable," said Busch, who won for the second time in Atlanta. "Penske p-p-p-power, it's back. Feels awesome."
The caution flag waved with three laps to go for debris from Robby Gordon's car, setting up a dramatic ending. The leaders pitted, including Busch and second-place Brian Vickers, but Carl Edwards took just two tires to emerge from the pits in the lead.
When the race restarted for a green-white-checkered finish, Busch and Gordon made quick work of Edwards' old tires, blasting by him exiting Turn 2. Gordon had a run outside for the lead, but Busch blocked and swung high to shut the door.
"I had a run on the 2 (Busch), and he saw me coming, and we about got in the fence going in (Turn) 1," Gordon said.
Gordon had to back off to save his car, opening the door for Edwards, who reclaimed second place as they took the white flag. That battle for second gave Busch enough of a cushion to seal his win, even as Gordon was closing during their charge to the checkered flag.
"It was a heck of a battle there for second," Gordon said. "We had a lot of fun."
So did Busch, who capped his win with a victory lap driven in reverse.
"It's great to be back in Victory Lane and hoist that trophy," said Busch, who won for the first time since June 2008. "Knowing that we went through some hard times last year ... today it leaves me speechless because of how much hard work has gone in."
Carl Edwards ended up third but never questioned his team's call to take just two tires.
"Our pit stall was between Jeff (Gordon) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and our decision at the end was based on that," said Edwards, who was concerned he would get pinned in his pit by the other drivers. "If we'd have taken four and gotten held up in there and come out seventh, that would be bad. We ended up third, which was probably best-case in our situation."
Unadilla's David Ragan was the highest-finishing Georgia driver, coming in 19th. Alpharetta's Joey Logano was 30th, Peachtree City's Reed Sorenson 33rd and Dawsonville's Bill Elliott 36th.
NASCAR racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the a thrilling weekend of racing under the lights this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-6. Great seats are available and can be reserved for only $20 down. To purchase, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 877-9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), 770-946-4211 or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.