BUSCH 'DESIGNS' NATIONWIDE SERIES THREE-PEAT
Z-Line Designs Driver Clinches Third Straight NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner's
Championship for Joe Gibbs Racing and Wins Homestead Season Finale for Good Measure
For the third straight year, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) won the NASCAR Nationwide Series owner's championship. And for the third straight time, it was Kyle Busch who delivered the title.
The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/BJ's Wholesale Club Toyota Camry for JGR did it in style too, winning the season-ending Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to collect his record-breaking 13th Nationwide Series victory of 2010 and the 43rd of his career. It was another dominant drive, as Busch led seven times for a race-high 153 laps.
"Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and the guys prepared a great racecar back in the shop, along with all the chassis guys, the body hangers and the engine group too, that gave us a racecar to come out here and put up front," said Busch, who ran just 29 of the series' 35-race schedule, and despite yielding the seat of the No. 18 Toyota to JGR driver Brad Coleman in six races, still finished third in the driver's points standings. "We qualified second to Joey (Logano, JGR teammate and driver of the No. 20 Toyota) and we were able to prevail and get the job done."
JGR's third straight Nationwide Series owner's title puts the 19-year-old organization in rare company, for only the Bill Baumgardner-owned BACE Motorsports team won three consecutive Nationwide Series owner's titles from 1995 through 1997 with drivers Johnny Benson (1995) and Randy LaJoie (1996 and 1997).
"It's a huge deal for us," said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. "We won our first owner's championship two years ago. It's just a testament to all the guys back in the shop. Even though we don't have one driver in every race going for a driver's championship, the owner's title gives those guys just a notch for them to say, 'Hey, we were the best this year. We prepared the cars the best, the motors, every aspect.' It was really kind of gratifying to see our team really appreciate it and enjoy it. That probably meant the most -- to watch those guys really make a big deal of it. That makes me feel good. It's a big deal and all those guys are celebrating right now."
"It was obviously a tremendous blessing for us to have the opportunity to win another owner's championship with Kyle and Brad in the car this year. Both of them did an outstanding job," added crew chief Jason Ratcliff. "It's very gratifying to come into Homestead and have the kind of run that we had tonight. We were able to close the deal. The guys again, great job on pit road, and the mechanics that turned the wrenches on this car, they did a great job preparing it at the shop. Lot of effort went into this car this week, lot of studying, lot of notes, and it paid off for us in the end."
The owner's championship and victory continued a banner weekend for Busch, as he won Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Homestead and clinched the owner's championship for his very own Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"This is a big deal for myself with what happened last night," Busch said. "Being able to win the owner's championship in our first year out in the Truck Series -- yeah, it's a stepping-stone division, but it's still a big deal in what all we've gone through as a team. And to come out here tonight and work with Jason Ratcliff all this time, and to win as many races as we have this year and to do it in such a dominating fashion is impressive."
Busch ends the 2010 Nationwide Series season with three poles, 13 wins, 22 top-fives, 25 top-10s and 2,229 laps led. He win tally surpassed the previous single-season win total of 10 originally held by Sam Ard and tied by Busch in 2008. And Busch's 9,466 career laps led total is an all-time high, crushing Mark Martin's previous record of 8,082 laps.
"I think it's pretty cool to have the opportunity to go out and race as many times as I've been able to race, and to win as often as I've been able to," said Busch, who is currently second on the Nationwide Series all-time victory list, just five shy of Martin's record of 48 wins. "It's a great testament to the people that I'm surrounded with."
Busch now has 86 victories across NASCAR's top three divisions (Sprint Cup -- 19; Nationwide -- 43; Camping World Truck -- 24).
Finishing .850 of a second behind Busch in the Ford 300's runner-up spot was Kevin Harvick, while Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Logano, Brendan Gaughan, Paul Menard and Jason Leffler comprised the remainder of the top-10.
The race featured 11 caution periods for 49 laps, with 12 failing to finish the 200-lap event.