Busch Drives Z-Line Designs Toyota to 51st Career NASCAR Nationwide Series Victory
Kyle Busch used his superb driving skills and the lighting-fast pit stops of his crew to win Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) scored his 51st win in the series, adding to his own record for career victories in the division.
I wouldn’t be here without the work of great people all around me.
“I can’t say enough about this Z-Line Designs Toyota team,” Busch said. “Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) and all the guys made great calls all night and they did a tremendous job. To win on 9/11 weekend – this is for those people and also for their families and all the men and women serving across the country. It certainly means a lot to have the freedom to come out here and have fun and celebrate this win.”
After starting third, Busch remained in the top-three for nearly the entire 250-lap race around the .75-mile oval where he spent much of the night battling with Carl Edwards for the lead. But it was the pit stops performed by the Z-Line Designs team that made the difference.
Under caution on lap 141, Busch entered pit road in third place, and the Z-Line Designs crew put him out in first place. The green flag came back out on lap 145 and after two quick yellow flags, Busch remained in the lead. However, he was feeling the pressure from Edwards, who wound up leading five times for a race-high 160 laps.
Following a restart on lap 170 after a third caution, Edwards finally got around Busch’s Toyota on lap 176 and it appeared Busch might have to settle for second. But Busch and the Z-Line Designs team had one more chance after a caution came out on lap 212, just 38 laps from the finish. Edwards, Busch and the rest of the leaders headed to pit road on lap 216 and once again, the No. 18 team put Busch out in front following a pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track bar and wedge adjustment.
The time Busch held onto the lead on the lap-221 restart and never looked back, leading the final 34 laps to score his fourth Nationwide Series victory at Richmond.
“When it started out as rough as it did tonight, I wasn’t sure that we were going to be able to get anything but a third- or fourth-place finish,” said Busch, who led four times for 74 laps. “Jason (Ratcliff) has got the smarts on him – he and Dave Rogers (Busch’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief) work together so much and they really, really help me a lot. I wouldn’t be here without the work of great people all around me. The pit crew was awesome again tonight and they were just flawless. They got us out front every time.”
Busch has a series-best eight victories in 2011, and it marks the fourth consecutive season the Z-Line Designs driver has scored at least eight wins. He also added to his impressive overall win total in NASCAR’s top three divisions, as he now has 103 victories (Sprint Cup – 23, Nationwide – 51, Camping World Truck – 29).
Busch’s JGR teammates – rookie Ryan Truex, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry and Brian Scott, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished fourth and 32nd, respectively.
Edwards finished .696 of a second behind Busch, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Truex and Kenny Wallace rounded out the top-five. Elliott Sadler, Aric Almirola, Reed Sorenson, Justin Allgaier and Joe Nemechek comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 48 laps with 15 drivers failing to finish the 187.5-mile race.