Darlington: Kyle Busch race report

DEFLATED IN DARLINGTON After Leading 143 Laps, Late-Race Cut Tire Late Dooms Busch, Z-Line Designs Team Luck, both good and bad, has been part of automobile racing since the birth of the sport in the late 19th century. Kyle Busch had that...

DEFLATED IN DARLINGTON
After Leading 143 Laps, Late-Race Cut Tire Late Dooms Busch, Z-Line Designs Team

Luck, both good and bad, has been part of automobile racing since the birth of the sport in the late 19th century.

Kyle Busch had that point driven home to him in a cruel way in Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, as the driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota led twice for 143 of 153 laps at venerable Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, only to finish a disappointing 16th.

After a caution came out on lap 147 due to Joe Nemechek's crash on the backstretch of the 1.366-mile oval, it appeared Busch would lead the field in the final, two-lap green-white-checkered sprint to the finish and wrap up his 25th career Nationwide Series victory.

However, the racing gods had other plans as a cut right-rear tire deflated his chances at victory just before the race went green for the final time. Busch was forced to pit for new tires, effectively taking the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver out of contention for the win.

"I hate it for these guys on this Z-Line Designs team and for Kyle," said Jason Ratcliff, crew chief of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry. "He drove a great race. That's part of this sport. One day you're on top then it can humble you pretty quick. Very thankful for this race team, very thankful for Z-Line Designs and Toyota. We'll just regroup and get them next time."

When the race restarted on lap 152, Busch was in 18th-place and still had a chance at a top-10 finish, but an accident behind him just after the restart nixed that opportunity and he was credited with 16th-place when the checkered flag fell.

Matt Kenseth won the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 to cap off a banner day for the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, as he also won the pole for Saturday night's Southern 500 Sprint Cup race at Darlington. It was Kenseth's 25th career Nationwide Series victory, his first of the season and his third at Darlington.

Finishing second behind Kenseth as the race finished under caution was Jason Leffler, while Carl Edwards, Erik Darnell and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-five. Ryan Newman, Mike Bliss, Jeff Burton, Scott Wimmer and Brian Vickers comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The race featured 10 caution periods for 32 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 153-lap race, which was extended six laps due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Busch's JGR teammate, Joey Logano, finished 12th.

With 10 of the 35 races now complete, Busch's lead has been trimmed to 37 markers over second-place Edwards in the championship standings.

After taking next weekend off, the Nationwide Series returns to action May 23 for the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Jason Leffler , Joe Nemechek , Ryan Newman , Mike Bliss , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Justin Allgaier , Erik Darnell , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing