SONOMA -- Kurt Busch might have had the best car at Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

But he also had the worst luck.

Busch finished an impressive fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race despite having to serve two penalties for speeding entering pit road.

"Yeah, we were fast, even on pit road -- twice," Busch said. "I messed up, flat out."

Busch looked like a contender early. He started seventh and quickly advanced through the field. Busch took the lead on Lap 19 and stayed in front for 15 laps.

But on his first pit stop, on Lap 35, Busch was caught speeding entering the pits under green. That earned him a drive-through penalty, which he served on the next lap.

However, when re-entering the pits to serve his penalty, Busch was speeding again. The repeat infraction resulted in a costly stop-and-go penalty, which put Busch a lap behind in 38th place.

"I didn't hit my tachometer right and I was speeding both times," Busch said.

Fortunately, Busch not only had the speed to get back on the lead lap, he worked himself up to fourth. And he thought he had a chance for more, even though he acknowledged that he couldn't have challenged race winner Martin Truex Jr.

"We had to battle hard," Busch said. "We came back up through there. I thought we could have gotten all the way up to second, but we never would have caught Truex."


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  • Former Sonoma winner Juan Pablo Montoya drove a strong race, but didn't wind up with a representative result.

    Montoya, who won here in 2007, spent most of he day moving toward the front, only to be shuffled back in the field because of contact or pit stops. But late in the race, Montoya was running strongly in second place. Unfortunately, the race was 110 laps, not 109.

    On that final lap, Montoya ran out of fuel and coasted to the finish line in 34th place.

    "It's just heartbreak," Montoya said. "It's heartbreak for me and everybody on the team."

  • Besides featuring another first-time road course winner, and the first road race for the new Gen-6 car, there was another first Sunday.

    Rain.

    A light drizzle caused the yellow flag to fly from Laps 25 to 30.

    "I thought it was neat when it was raining a little bit and the curbs were slick, but the track retained a lot of grip," said Carl Edwards, who finished third. "When they threw the caution, I thought we could have kept running. I don't think we were in danger of having any trouble if we had kept racing."

    The weather, about 10 degrees cooler than during Saturday's qualifying, hurt Marcos Ambrose. He started second and led the first 18 laps before fading to seventh.

    "The weather cooled down a lot and we just didn't anticipate that when we set up the car, and we fought it all day," Ambrose said. "We were pretty good for 10-odd laps, but we couldn't hold it on the long run"

  • Besides race winner Truex, Michael Waltrip Racing also got a fine performances from Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers.

    Bowyer, who won here last year, finished fifth after starting fifth. Vickers had to work a little harder.

    Vickers drove in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Road America in Wisconsin on Saturday and had to start at the back of the field Sunday because did not qualify the No. 55 car in Sonoma (Jason Bowles did).

    He quickly moved into contention and ran as high as second before finishing a respectable 13th.

  • Danica Patrick had a rough day, finishing 29th. Her worst moment came on Lap 63 when she spun in Turn 10.

    For the record, nemesis Jacques Villeneuve wasn't anywhere near Patrick when she spun. Villeneuve (41st) was already out of the race because of an engine failure.

    Villeneuve spun Patrick on the final lap of the Nationwide race at Road America last year.

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one of his better races at Sonoma, finishing 12th.

    "We'll take it," he said. "This is definitely my worst track, my least favorite track. We'll take whatever. We will take a top-15 here any week."

    Contact Darryl Matsuda at 408-920-5215. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrylMatsuda.