DOVER, Del. (AP) – Martin Truex Jr. bided his time until the handling on Kevin Harvick’s car went away, then passed him for the lead with 70 laps to go and eventually drove away to an easy victory in the NASCAR Busch series race Saturday at Dover International Speedway.

It was the second consecutive victory on The Monster Mile for the series champion, his third this year and ninth overall in Busch competition. After passing Harvick, Truex was out of the lead for only four more laps.

“At the end of the race, it was the best my car was all day long,” Truex said. “Once I got into clean air, it was game over.”

The victory moved him up one spot to third, pulling him within 120 points of series leader Carl Edwards, who retired with a late mechanical problem. Truex said he has overcome some tough outings and is confident about his chances to repeat as champion.

“We’ve got a strong team, every bit as good as last year,” he said.

Harvick dominated the first two-thirds of the MBNA 200, and showed the way for a race-high 86 laps. He took the lead from polesitter Edwards on the second lap and dominated until Truex took control. The winner’s only goal thereafter was to avoid lapped traffic.

Things got worse for Harvick shortly after he lost the lead, and crashed with Kyle Busch with 54 laps to go. That led to a bizarre scene, when Busch drove clockwise against the slowed traffic from the first turn to the fourth and left the track.

“I was able to get back to the garage area without causing a fight in turn one,” said Busch, who blamed Harvick for the crash. “He ran me down to the apron and took the air of my spoiler. I guess he wanted to wreck.”

The crash began when the cars made contact exiting the fourth turn, with Busch pinning Harvick to the wall.

That opened the door for Truex to turn the race into a rout. His Chevrolet wound up beating the Dodge of rookie Reed Sorenson by 2 seconds, leading 70 of 200 laps on the high-banked concrete oval.

“He was too far ahead to catch,” Sorenson said.

Edwards’ late engine problem cost him more than 100 points, and his advantage fell to 74 over Sorenson.

The leader averaged 97.258 mph in a race slowed nine times by 47 laps of caution. There were 10 lead changes among six drivers.

Finishing third was Jamie McMurray in a Dodge. He said he learned something, but not anything he can apply to Sunday’s MBNA 400 Nextel Cup race.

“I found out that my Busch car drives a lot better than my Cup car,” he said, then took a shot at Busch for blaming Harvick. “It’s never his fault.”

Fourth was Dale Jarrett in a Ford, followed by the Chevrolet of Sunday’s polesitter, Jimmie Johnson. Tony Raines, Jason Keller, Greg Biffle, Kenny Wallace and Joe Nemechek completed the top 10.

Jon Wood, injured in one of several crashes, was treated at Bayhealth Medical Center and released.

AP-ES-06-04-05 1627EDT

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