Updated: March 31, 2014, 3:13 PM ET

Kurt Busch Wins At Martinsville

Sprint Cup: Another letdown by the 48

By Ed Hinton | ESPN.com

Feeling frisky yet, all you yawners at Jimmie Johnson Humdrum?

Six races this season, six different winners, and old Six-Time isn't among them. Furthermore, he has flat-out lost two straight races after dominating them.

Sure, it's early, but not too soon for Anti-JJ Nation to pay attention. This could be the start of something flawed.

Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesJimmie Johnson, front, simply didn't have enough race car to hold off Kurt Busch at Martinsville.

Sunday, after Kurt Busch outdid him in the very sort of late duel Johnson isn't supposed to lose at Martinsville, Johnson told reporters at the track that "I couldn't have done any more. I just got beat."

As usual, he was being ultra-polite. What got beat was his No. 48 team. You know, the one that Anti-JJ Nation claims has propped him up, made him look so good this past decade.

What got beat last week, at Fontana, Calif., was his team. You know ...

Not that Busch didn't do a masterful job of dueling Johnson at Martinsville, a track that previously "you just draw a line through" on the schedule, Busch said in Victory Lane, "like 'there's no way I'll be able to challenge those Hendrick guys ...'"

But Busch's performance might not have been as superb as it appeared, with Johnson being vulnerable in a very loose race car. That's crew. Not driver.

And at Fontana, it was the crew -- led by Chad Knaus, whom Anti-JJ Nation has cited for years as the main propper-upper of Johnson -- that literally blew a win for the driver. They dropped the air pressure dangerously low in his left-side tires, against Goodyear engineers' warnings, so that he shredded one while leading, dominating, with just seven laps to go.

Sunday, Johnson told Fox reporters that "I'd been loose in the final third of the race and was hanging on there when he [Busch] got back by me [with 28 laps left]. I was hopeful that he would wear his stuff out and I could get back by him, and then I did [with 17 to go].

"And then I couldn't hold him off," and Busch took the lead for keeps with 11 laps left.

So, rather than Johnson's methodical, ultra-polite, often barely audible analysis of a win, you had the volatile Busch, who just couldn't contain himself, even in victory, regarding a just-flared feud with Brad Keselowski.

Busch and Keselowski had collided in the pits during a competition caution early in the race, and each blamed the other. Keselowski's car was heavily damaged, and after subsistence repairs, he came out gunning for Busch, and they slammed on each other until one-fifth of the race was complete.

Busch called Keselowski's retaliation "a punk-a-- move, and he will get what he gets back when I decide to give it back."

So the bonus, Johnson yawners, is that in place of Johnson Bland, you've got two volatile personalities, Busch and Keselowski, who don't stop seething easily or quickly.

Going into Texas next week, just pay attention.

Busch vs. Keselowski


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