Kyle Busch sets record with ORP victory

Kyle Busch sets record with ORP victory

Kyle Busch won his sixth Nationwide Series race of the year after leading 197 of the 200 laps around the 0.686-mile oval at O'Reilly Raceway Park. It was his 17th Nationwide Series victory. Busch crossed the finish line 1.111 seconds ahead of...

Kyle Busch won his sixth Nationwide Series race of the year after leading 197 of the 200 laps around the 0.686-mile oval at O'Reilly Raceway Park. It was his 17th Nationwide Series victory. Busch crossed the finish line 1.111 seconds ahead of second place finisher Colin Braun. Despite leading all but three laps, it's difficult to label the victory dominant. Braun kept the leader in sight throughout the race and was able to apply pressure but was never able to mount a serious bid for the lead.

Kyle Busch brings his #18 Z-Line Designs Toyata into Victory Lane.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.

Busch's 15th victory of 2008 across all three NASCAR national divisions breaks a NASCAR record set by Kevin Harvick in 2006. "It's another milestone for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Maybe tomorrow we'll be able add to it, but we're starting farther back."

The victory comes four days after a rule change forced Toyota competitors to use a different restrictor plate. With smaller holes than the plate used by Ford and Chevrolet, the new plate essentially cuts horsepower. "Toyota has really stepped it up this year," said Busch. The rule change "gave us an advantage here, it gave us a little less wheel spin off the corners. It made the throttle a little less sensitive. The bigger tracks will be the story."

"When we get to Michigan we'll really know how it's affected us but we have a lot of weapons to use," said crew chief Jason Ratcliff. When we learned about the new rule, "we decided we were going to find a positive in it," Ratcliff continued. "And this week it was motivation."

Braun's second place finish was his best in any NASCAR division. A regular in Craftsman Truck Series, Braun was elated with the result. "It was a great night for me," said Braun. "We started off the truck pretty quick and made a few changes" to adapt to the track as it changed. "It was a really fun night and I learned a lot."

The race was stopped 7 times for cautions for a total of 35 laps, giving Braun several shots at Busch on the restarts. Each time Busch was able to gain a slight advantage. "I was just trying to sit behind Kyle and learn as much as I could," said Braun, who drives a Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing. "I was trying to be smart and not be impatient. Kyle did the restarts real well and that someplace where I have a lot to learn."

Busch relinquished his lead only once. At the midpoint of the race, most of the field reported to the pits under caution and Cale Gale was credited with leading one lap. Veteran driver Morgan Shepard stayed on track, assuming the lead for two laps. As the field rounded the final corner to take the green, Shepard pulled into the pits and behind the wall, retiring for the evening.

Mike Bliss and David Stremme.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.

Mike Bliss finished third after driving the race of the evening. Bliss, who has 12 USAC victories at O'Reilly Raceway Park, started 17th. Bliss spun on lap 22 and reported to the pits to replace his tires. That sent him to the tail end of the field. "My car was leaking fluid or something," said Bliss when asked about why he spun. "I'm glad we didn't get wrecked."

With new tires Bliss began his assault on the field. "I really want to win a stock car race at this track," said Bliss. "I spun out early. We went to the pits and change the tires and make some changes and that really helped us finish up front. No one else got to pit and make changes."

Bliss was sixth when the field reported to the pits at the midpoint of the race. After the crew serviced his Chevrolet, Bliss returned to the track in fourth place. When green flag racing returned, Gale, Bliss and Josh Wise engaged in an intense battle with Bliss sliding into third place on lap 140.

Gale was relegated to sixth by the checkered flag with Scott Wimmer finishing fourth and Wise fifth.

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Series NASCAR-NS