BRISTOL, Tenn. _ With such a renewed focus on rivalries in the sport, another great rivalry is in the beginning stages. No, I’m not talking about Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski. I’m not talking about Kevin Harvick and Edwards either. The newest rivalry that is developing in the Sprint Cup Series appears to be between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. This rivalry, unlike the others, is developing not in the media center, but on the track.
During Sunday’s Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch dominated the event leading ten times for a total of 278 laps. Yet in the end, when the checkered flag flew it was the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson who was celebrating in victory lane, much to the chagrin of Busch.
“We just got beat at the end on the luck of the draw on restarts,” Busch said. “That’s what our sport is about…luck on which lane is going to go.”
The highest finishing non-Hendrick driver in the Chase last year, Busch came into the 2010 season with a new crew chief and a renewed confidence. With Steve Addington now calling the shots, Busch set his sights on Johnson and beating him every chance he gets.
“It’s up to the best of us to knock him off the top,” Busch said following Sunday’s disappointing third-place finish. “So it’s rough. You know, they’ve won three times this year. Not that we need to, deserve to win, it’s just that they are winning every chance they’re given. We just need to position ourselves more to get those wins.”
So far, Busch and Addington have done a good job at just that. Two weeks ago in Atlanta Busch led 129 laps en route to his first victory of the year and on Sunday he had the car to beat. The only problem was he got beat…by Jimmie Johnson.
“I’ve watched from afar before I was in the sport people would say, ‘Anybody but the 3,’ ‘Anybody but the 24,’” Johnson said. “I’m awfully proud to be in that category where they’re saying, ‘Anybody but the 48.’ I think it’s awesome.”
Busch, however, doesn’t think it’s awesome and he appears determined to knock Johnson and the No. 48 team off their pedestal.
“I don’t know, I’d rather lose to any of the 41 cars out there than the 48 car,” Busch said. “I thought we had them beat. I gave it my heart today, but came up short.”
Unlike the Edwards-Keselowski or Edwards-Harvick feud, this rivalry is developing the best way possible. When two drivers race hard and compete for wins against each other week-in and week-out, it is only natural for a rivalry to develop. When one of those drivers has hands down dominated the sport over the last four years, it makes it that much easier. We’re only five races into the season, yet these two seem to have their sights set on one another and things are only going to heat up as the year goes on.
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