Kyle Busch stayed out of trouble to win fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart's dirt-track charity race Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway.
Wrecks reduced the 26-car field to 15 cars for the final 16 laps of the Prelude To The Dream on the half-mile oval owned by Stewart. Kasey Kahne was leading until he hit Bobby Labonte in Turn 3 after Labonte spun out. Busch was running second at the time, and took advantage for his first Prelude victory after four top-five finishes. Stewart, the defending Sprint Cup champion, finished second.
Busch started second and ran near the front during the entire late-model race, which was run at 40 laps for the first time instead of 30.
''I felt like our car's always been the best car in the long run, especially through traffic,'' Busch said. ''It was definitely exciting getting through traffic. That's what makes the place fun.''
Most of the traffic Busch fought was lapped traffic, and it was that traffic that helped him get to the lead after it appeared Kahne and defending winner Clint Bowyer would duel to the finish.
Busch was running third behind Kahne and Bowyer, who went to the lead on lap 13 when Kahne was trying to lap David Gilliland. Eight laps later, Kahne bumped Bowyer to regain the lead. On the next, lap Busch bumped Bowyer, who fell several spots back.
''I thought I'd cleared him then I felt the air start moving my car,'' Busch said. ''By then we were so tight off Turn 2 I guess he caught the fence a little bit.''
Busch's big break came with 16 laps left when Labonte spun. The yellow flag came out, but with Labonte sideways in the middle of the track, Kahne could not avoid contact. The collision tore up the passenger side of Kahne's car and dislodged the rear tire on that side. Kahne went to the pits and finished 16th.
If Kahne had not been knocked out of the race, Busch said it probably would have required traffic slowing Kahne down to find a chance to pass him.
''He was really fast out front,'' Busch said. ''I felt like we could be that fast if I was in front of him.''
The race benefited Feed The Children with the net proceeds from the HBO pay-per-view telecast. Feed The Children also will send a food truck to the hometown or a city of choice of the top-10 finishers. The event has raised more than $3.5 million for various charities since its inception in 2005.
''Whether you beat Tony Stewart or whether you beat Jimmy Johnson or whoever, it's still a lot of fun to race this race,'' Busch said. ''Tony's turned this into a huge ordeal.''
Busch's next stop is Pocono for this weekend's Sprint Cup race, but he sees how dirt-track racing could become addictive.
''I definitely wouldn't mind running at some other tracks,'' Busch said. ''But I think I've still got a Sunday day job that kind of keeps me from running too many of these races.''
Danica Patrick raced for the first time on dirt and finished 15th by avoiding the wrecks that kept happening in front of her. Austin Dillon, who runs in the NASCAR Nationwide series, finished third.
The field also included drivers from the NASCAR Truck series, IndyCar, NHRA and World of Outlaws sprints.
Results from the eighth annual Prelude To The Dream Benefiting Feed The Children dirt Late Model event June 6 at the half-mile Eldora Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (2) Kyle Busch, 40
2. (9) Tony Stewart, 40
3. (4) Austin Dillon, 40
4. (8) Donny Schatz, 40
5. (6) Ryan Newman, 40
6. (10) Aric Almirola, 40
7. (18) Cruz Pedregon, 40
8. (20) Dave Blaney, 40
9. (5) Ty Dillon, 40
10. (22) Justin Allgaier, 40
11. (14) Jimmie Johnson, 40
12. (15) Kenny Wallace, 40
13. (16) Ray Evernham, 39
14. (19) Bill Elliott, 39
15. (25) Danica Patrick, 37
16. (1) Kasey Kahne, 24, Accident
17. (7) Bobby Labonte, 24, Accident
18. (12) Jason Leffler, 23, Mechanical
19. (3) Clint Bowyer, 22, Mechanical
20. (21) David Gilliland, 18, Mechanical
21. (23) Ron Capps, 3, Accident
22. (13) Tony Kanaan, 2, Mechanical
23. (24) J.J. Yeley, 2, Accident
24. (11) Kenny Schrader, 1, Accident
25. (17) Steve Kinser, 1, Accident
26. (26) Kurt Busch, DNS, Accident in Heat Race
Winner's average speed: 51.211 mph
Time of race: 23:25.951
Margin of victory: 2.283 seconds
Lead changes: 3
Leaders: Kahne 1-12; Bowyer 13-21; Kahne 22-24; Ky. Busch 25-40
Attendance: Approximately 20,000
Broadcast: HBO Pay-Per-View