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Busch Wins ARCA Opener at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2004) – Kyle Busch kicked off Speedweeks in style on Saturday, leading 34 laps on his way to winning the season-opening ARCA Series event at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 87 ditech.com Chevrolet.

The 18-year-old, who started on the outside pole position next to two-time Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart, took the lead for the first time on the fifth circuit of the 80-lap event before a caution came out at Lap 17 for a spin in Turn 2.

Under the yellow flag, crew chief Gary DeHart brought the ditech.com Chevy to pit road at Lap 19 for two tires and fuel, but Busch slightly overshot the team’s pit stall, resulting in a loss of track position.

With the field still running behind the pace car, ARCA officials directed the No. 87 back to pit road to enforce a one-lap penalty for having a crew member over the wall with no helmet.

Restarting the race in the 33rd position and one lap down to the leaders, Busch quickly went to work, moving to the front of the field before a caution flag flew on Lap 28, positioning the ditech.com team back on the lead lap.

The yellow, displayed for a spin in Turn 4, gave Busch an opportunity to take right-side tires and a slight track bar adjustment to improve the car’s handling.

As the field went back to green-flag racing, Busch began picking off positions, moving into 11th on Lap 37, eighth on Lap 38, sixth on Lap 30 and fifth on Lap 40.  Four laps later, he was in the runner-up position, chasing leader and four-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel.

On Lap 61, Busch took the point for the second and final time, pacing the field until the checkered flag flew on Lap 80 to earn his third career ARCA Series victory.

“I came here when I was 8 years old, just dreaming of someday being able to race at this facility,” Busch said.  “I never thought I’d be able to win in my first time out.  It’s pretty amazing and a dream come true.”

Busch will next compete in the NASCAR Busch Series Hershey’s Kisses 300 on Saturday, Feb. 14.  The race will be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.

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