HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) -- How far has Kurt Busch come in his second Winston Cup season? Last year, he didn't even qualify for the NAPA 500.
"That was the lowest point of my career," he said.
He made up for it in a big way Sunday, winning this year's rain-shortened race by holding off Joe Nemechek and Dale Jarrett at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch also won at Martinsville last week in his Roush Racing Ford.
"It's a great day for us," he said. "Last year, I wasn't even at this race to participate, so it feels that much better to get into Victory Lane."
Rain forced a 2 1/2-hour delay after 26 laps, and the sky opened up again later, ending the race on the 248th lap. Point leader Tony Stewart was fourth in a Pontiac, followed by the Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Stewart stretched his lead to 146 points over Mark Martin, who was eighth.
"There still isn't a sucker out there that can say we're points racing," Stewart said, grinning. "I was sideways out there chasing Nemechek. We said we were going to keep racing for wins and that's just what we're doing."
Just before the rain came, Nemechek and Jarrett were nibbling at Busch's lead, closing within about 10 car-lengths. And Stewart appeared to have the strongest car on long runs.
Not that Busch was worried about any of them, particularly Nemechek.
"I was going to stick to the low groove," he said. "I wasn't coming off the white line because I knew he was fast down there. Once the tires wore away a little bit, we were a bit quicker and I knew that we would wear him out eventually."
In the past five races, Busch has moved from 12th in the standings to sixth, and clinched the manufacturer's title for Ford with his third career victory.
"The way this whole operation has come together this year to produce results, it's a lot of fun to race these kind of cars," he said.
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