KYLE BUSCH/No.18 Z-Line Designs Toyota is two thirds of the way to a hat trick after winning Saturday evening’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 at Auto Club Speedway. He made NASCAR history by winning two major top tier races in one day. He held off KEVIN HARVICK/No.33 Rheem Chevrolet, who made a run at Busch the younger in the last laps.
This is Busch’s twenty-second NNS victory in 140 starts. He now leads the standings.
Busch said “It was awesome and something special to win two races in one day. It was cool and means a lot. It was pretty near a perfect day. The race was great. Harvick came out of nowhere and we had a battle. It was fun. I’m ready for a nap.”
Pole sitter CARL EDWARDS/No.60 Scotts Ford was on Busch’s tail for much of the race, after Busch got him on the first lap. Busch led 143 of the 150-lap race. Edwards led twice for five laps.
The race got exciting in the last half hour, with KEVIN HARVICK/No.33 Rheem Chevrolet pushing Busch, while further back Edwards was being hounded by young JOEY LOGANO/No.20 GameStop Toyota, making one of his selected appearances in the NNS. Logano got past Edwards and then focused on Harvick, who held on to second place.
Finishing fifth was DAVID RAGAN/No.6 Discount Tire Ford.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN/No.62 South Point Hotel Chevrolet started eleventh and finished ninth, to claim Top Rookie. He said he had a lot of fun, and even found the bottom of the track. It had been four or five years since he’s been down by the white line.
Rookie MICHAEL McDOWELL/No.47 Pacific Packing Toyota was off to a good start, after qualifying third. He fell back during the heat of battle. On Lap 53 he spun and flamed out all the way until he stopped, as close to an emergency crew as possible, bringing out the first caution of the race.
McDowell was unhurt, but didn’t know what happened. “I felt like I was spinning out in my own oil and then it obviously caught on fire. The motor was running. I don’t know if we had an oil line or something happened. We’re not really sure what happened. Hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out. It’s funny because everybody sort of laughed at me getting in and out with my helmet on. I’m one of the only drivers who gets in with my helmet on every time, and I do it so that I can get in and out pretty quickly just for those cases. These cars are great, safe and the fire protective, Sparco and all these guys, it’s not like it used to be.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI/No.88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet also had a bad hair day. After leading two laps during pit stops, he and veteran GREG BIFFLE/No.16 CitiFinancial Ford got together, bringing out the race’s third caution. Although Biffle got into Keselowski’s left rear and sent the youngster into the wall, it was considered just racing. Biffle continue on track while Keselowski pitted for quick repairs and returned to racing, four laps down. Biffle later crashed into the wall and ended his race and bringing out the fourth caution.
The only other caution was BRIAN VICKERS/No.32 Dollar General Toyota, who spun and continued. He finished eighth.
Fifteen cars finished on the lead lap, and thirty-three of the forty-three drivers finished the race. McDowell and Biffle were the only accident-related DNF’s, with the other eight suffering a variety of mechanical problems.
The top ten in points are: Busch-360; Edwards-340; Harvick-305; Vickers-297; RAGAN-297; DAVID REUTIMANN-273; JOEY LOGANO-268; GAUGHAN-256; JASON KELLER-255; and Biffle.
The NNS race was more exciting than the previous NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race, but it had the same slim or slimmer crowd.
The Nationwide Series next race is the Sam’s Town 300 on Saturday 28 February at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.