Kyle Busch Atlanta race report

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Joe Gibbs Racing press release

Busch Scores Runner-Up Finish At Atlanta
Z-Line Designs Driver Leads Six Times for 31 Laps, But Can’t Catch Winner Edwards

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Ted Rossino

Kyle Busch moved from fourth to second in the final 20 laps, but couldn’t catch eventual winner Carl Edwards in Saturday night’s Great Clips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished .697 of a second behind Edwards en route to his 15th top-five finish in 18 Nationwide Series races in 2011.

“I guess it was a good race,” Busch said. “The track didn’t widen out like we always, normally expect it to do here. There didn’t seem to be a very good middle or top side. Everybody was kind of fighting for the bottom and trying to run that yellow line around the racetrack. Hard to pass guys in that case when you try to get up behind them and you’re slipping and sliding already and such on edge that when you get three or four car lengths behind them and lose more downforce, then you’re sliding even worse.”

After starting third, Busch worked his way through the field and took the lead for the first time on lap 44. He led six times for 31 laps and was in the top-five for nearly the entire event.

With 20 laps remaining, Busch was in fourth when the green flag was displayed for the final time in the 195-lap event. He quickly passed Kasey Kahne for third and by lap 181 found himself in a fierce battle with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., for second. Once he cleared Stenhouse on lap 185, Busch set his sights on Edwards, but didn’t have enough at the end to run the Roush Fenway Racing driver down.

“Certainly was an exciting race there for a little while on restarts,” Busch said. “You would run back and forth and dive bomb guys and get on their outside, their inside and once it kind of single files out then it’s tough to go. You can see the cars that are free to start with kind of go to the front and then the guys that have better long-run cars kind of come up through. I felt like we were one of the long-run cars that certainly got better with laps. Just didn’t have enough on the front side. If we had enough on the front side and enough on the back side then we would have been the best car here. The Z-Line Designs Camry just wasn’t quite what it needed to be, but was close and we gave them a run for their money.”

There are 23 tracks in North America that will host a Nationwide race during the 2011 season and Busch has won at all but four of them. He has never competed at one of those four tracks – Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. – and he only ran the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course in Montreal once, when he finished 10th in 2009. That leaves Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Atlanta as circuits he has competed at more than once, yet not scored a Nationwide victory.

He has four runner-up finishes in Nationwide Series races at Atlanta, including three consecutive second-place results.

“One of these days we’ll get one here,” Busch said. “I want to win wherever we go and we’ve come close at Atlanta. We’ll get one at some point.”

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 11th and 12th, respectively.

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Series NASCAR-NS
Tags atlanta, busch, gibbs, nascar-ns, toyota