Kyle Busch earned his eighth win of the season in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Richmond International Raceway.
Busch led four times for 74 laps (of 250) to record his 51st career victory and extended his all-time NNS wins record.
Ryan Truex (fourth) and Kenny Wallace (fifth) also earned top-five results for Toyota. It marked a career-best finish for Truex, and Wallace’s first top-five behind the wheel of a Camry.
Camry drivers Joe Nemechek (10th), Michael Annett (11th), Steve Wallace (16th) and Brian Scott were also in the field at Richmond.
Five Camry drivers are currently in the top-15 in the unofficial NNS point standings following 27 of 34 races in the 2011 season -- K. Wallace (seventh), S. Wallace (eighth), Annett (ninth), Scott ( 10th) and Nemechek (13th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st
Did you think you had a race-winning car tonight? “Carl (Edwards) was certainly really good there. I thought at first we were probably a third or fourth-place car and then we kind of worked on it and made it a second or third-place car and then there at the end we were keeping up with Carl and thought it was about a second-place car and that final pit stop my guys really put the pressure on them knowing how quick they’ve been on pit road all night and they did it once again. We were able to get off first and I think Carl came off fourth. When we had the restart there he got mired back in traffic a little bit and kind of gave us some time and some room to get out and then when he and Ricky (Stenhouse) started racing there a little bit obviously it took them a little bit to get by and we kind of stretched it out somewhat but not a lot. These cars are all pretty equal. It’s certainly hard to have an advantage but any time you can get out-front and stay out-front certainly I felt like that helped. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and these guys made some awesome adjustments all night making the car better for us and just making it a little more drivable. Every run we got closer and then there at the last run we just had track position and a good car.”
Did you have to be patient in tonight’s race? “Yeah, Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) and these guys -- that’s why we just keep digging and we just kept trying to do what we can with these Z-Line Designs Camrys. I can’t say enough about this team and the guys on pit road, Jason making all the adjustments tonight -- what a polish job -- and again Z-Line is on here with us and having fun and NOS Energy Drink, Toyota, Nationwide Insurance and my wife is around here somewhere, I think. She didn’t want to get wet. Thank Pizza Ranch, Gillette and the fans, too and all of those that we lost on 9/11 weekend. This is for those people and also for their families and all the men and women serving across the country, certainly it means a lot to give us our freedom to come out here to have fun and enjoy it and to celebrate like this in times when its good for us and may not be so great for others.”
How much confidence do you have in Jason Ratcliff as your crew chief? “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. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) has got the smarts on him. Him and Dave Rogers (NSCS crew chief) both those guys work together so much and they really help me a lot. I wouldn’t be here without the work of great people all around me. It’s cool to have guys like that and to come out here and celebrate another win -- win number 51 for Rowdy.”
Why was Carl Edwards able to beat you throughout much of the race? “We were certainly working on that through the whole night and trying to get our car better. I think it was just we were too loose up off the corner. The first run of the race I was really loose all the way through and then we’d get tight and then I’d start loosing ground in the center. There at the end of the race I was actually really good and could put the power down off the corners and sort of got my gap that I had. But the last eight or five laps there Carl (Edwards) was catching me there again I think and just getting a little bit tight in the center of the corner so not being able to roll it as good as we wanted to. Our car didn’t stay as consistent throughout a run as theirs did, but certainly there at the end the track position mattered and just being able to get out there and get a little bit of a gap helped us.”
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Were you the car to beat at the race’s midpoint? “No, we weren’t. Big thanks to the Z-Line Designs team tonight on pit road. These guys did a whale of a job. I mean good pit stops. Kyle (Busch) hung in there and kept communicating well. We probably had a third-place car to start the night. We just kept getting better and kept getting better and, man, the pit crew did what they needed to do in the end and, of course, Kyle Busch did what he did when he needed to do it there at the end. Of course, we’ve got to remember all of our military and all of our armed service people that give us the freedom to come out here and do this, especially on this weekend as we think about all the great people that we miss and then all the great people that suit up and were very courageous to do what they did and they continue to do it today. And that’s the freedom that we have to come out here and race and I’m very thankful for that.
How much did the track change tonight? “Usually you kind of get a feel for what it’s going to be in the morning. Nationwide cars always practice in the morning and then the Cup cars go out there and you pretty much run a full race out there on the race track so it’s always different, but you kind of anticipate what it’s going to be -- how much to adjust your car -- from the previous notes we had from this race track. Tonight, I anticipated that forward drive would be a big deal tonight and we made some adjustments for that, but it was a much bigger deal when the race started than I thought it would be. That was the main thing that we had to work on all night and I didn’t feel like it would be. The center would be what I thought we would need to work on all night. It kind of caught me off guard and went a little further than I anticipated on losing drive off from practice to race. Some of it can just be this new car. We don’t have a lot of laps on this new car -- just our third event here on this new car. We’re still learning with it, but the track definitely went further tonight than I anticipated.”
RYAN TRUEX, No. 20 Schick Xtreme 3 Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 4th
How was your race? “It was crazy. I just can’t thank these guys enough for giving me such a good car. It’s just so cool to be here. This is my first top-five and to have Schick Xtreme 3 onboard and everybody here it’s pretty cool. I’m having a lot of fun out here and being able to run good is pretty cool so I’ve got to thank these guys and just thank everybody for sticking behind me.”
What does this top-five finish mean to you? “What a pleasure to drive this car. It’s so cool to be able to run this good and have such a good crew and team and everyone behind me. To have Schick Xtreme 3 on the car and just everybody that’s behind me has put a lot into this to have me out here running and it’s really, really cool. To get a reward like this is just really nice.”
How did your car handle during race? “Those long runs were hard. Our car was loose, but I just had to really be easy on the right-rear tire and try to conserve tires so I could be there at the end. We did that and were able to pass guys longer in the run so it was cool.”
How were you able to recover and have a career-best night? “It helps when you’ve got a good car. These guys at Joe Gibbs Racing just work so hard and they build such great race cars. It’s just a pleasure to be able to drive them and be out there racing with these guys. We started off and I had to from 42nd and I just took my time. I was patient. I made my way up to the front. Like I said, we had an awesome car. I can’t thank these guys enough. Schick Xtreme3 -- I’ve got to thank them for being on the car. Our car looked awesome and it’s just a good night. I’m happy.”
What were you able to learn in tonight’s race? “I think it helped me a lot with just tire strategy and being able to save my stuff. In the long runs, we were really good and it was just from me saving the right rear the whole beginning of the run. We weren’t the fastest car in the short runs, but as we would run and keep going and making laps, we would start catching those guys and they would all come back to us. Can’t thanks these guys enough and just happy to be here.”
KENNY WALLACE, No. 09 Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry, RAB Racing with Brack Maggard Finishing Position: 5th
How was your race car tonight? “I’m just mentally happy to be back in the top-10. That was my top-five. Eleven top-10s this year. Mentally, that’s exciting to me after three years of misery. We had a really fast race car. I’m up there racing Penske, Roush, Gibbs and they just outrun me up off the corner. I could get in through the middle and they’d pull me up off the corner. That was a really good run for our team. Our pit stops weren’t where we needed them, but I want to thank Federated Auto Parts for sponsoring my race car. They mean a lot to us so if you find a Federated Auto Parts go and by some parts from them.”
Are you excited to get a top-five finish? “It was a good night for the Federated Auto Parts Toyota Camry. It’s nice to have a top-five and my 11th top-10 of the year. It means a lot to me. We put a lot of effort into this year to come back. This top-five means a lot. We’ve given away about three or four this year so I’m really excited.”TOYOTA NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS)
How hard did you fight for this top-five tonight? “I drove every lap as hard as I could drive. When you’re racing Penske, Gibbs and Roush, they’re just good teams. They beat us out of the pits every time and I just had to really muscle my way past the cars that are beating me out of the pits. We made a couple of changes to the car, but it was mostly air pressure. We worked really hard. This is the same car that ran topthree all night here last time.”
How were you able to post your first top-five since 2008? “Hard work and perseverance. I want to thank Federated Auto Parts and my Toyota Camry. That’s the key to it -- a team determined like me losing weight and getting physically fit. Mentally this is a big comeback for me. I’m excited.”
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 10th
MICHAEL ANNETT, No. 62 Freightliner Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing Finishing Position: 11th
STEVE WALLACE, No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing Finishing Position: 16th
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 32nd
What happened to take you out of the race? “I just got turned by the 88 (Aric Almirola) getting into turn 3. We were having a rough night. We didn’t have our No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota where we wanted it. The guys were doing an awesome job in the pits, gaining me position and keeping us in the game. We were making adjustments and it was going to be a night we had to battle. Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) was making good adjustments, we were starting to hit on it and unfortunately we’re not going to see how our night goes.”
Are you upset with Aric Almirola after the contact? “Yeah. He’s (Aric Almirola) ran into the back of me a couple of times on restarts. Bristol comes to mind. I don’t know what it is, but when you turn somebody before you get into the corner, you hit the outside wall pretty hard. It was a tough hit. Killed our car. We weren’t having the night that we wanted with our No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota. Guys were doing an awesome job on pit road keeping us in the game. Kevin (Kidd, crew chief) was making good adjustments. We were starting to hit on it, but now we’re not going to see how our night ends.”