- Has "second-best car"
- Led three times for 39 laps
Busch Has To Settle For Second Fiddle At Nashville - Z-Line Designs Driver Leads in the Late Going but Doesn't Have Enough To Beat Edwards
Kyle Busch did everything he could to try and win his fourth Sam Bass-designed Gibson guitar -- the unique trophy awarded to race winners at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway -- but the driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had to settle for second fiddle when the checkered flag flew for Saturday's Nashville 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
The Z-Line Designs Camry was the second-best car. We knew that yesterday...
The 25-year-old from Las Vegas and the Z-Line Designs crew navigated their way through early race handling issues and led three times for 39 laps in the late going. But Busch just could not hold off a dominant Carl Edwards in a spirited duel for the lead that saw the two drivers swap the first-place position over a four-lap stretch from the 188th through 191st tour around the 1.33-mile concrete oval.
Edwards, who had led 106 of the opening 119 laps of today's 225-lap race, took the lead from Busch for good on lap 191 and was able to hold him off over the final 34 laps to score his fourth career win at Nashville by .521 of a second over the runner-up Busch.
"It was a good day," said Busch, who dominated Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race to score his second consecutive series win in his own Kyle Busch Motorsports racetruck to go with his June 2009 Nationwide Series win at Nashville in the No. 18 JGR Toyota. "The Z-Line Designs Camry was the second-best car. We knew that yesterday through practice. We saw it on the track. We worked our guts out to try to make some changes and the guys did a great job. They just didn't quite have enough today. We saw that all throughout the race. I got out there and led a little bit, but knew I was only biding my time out there. We had some fun but, all in all, if you look back on the season so far, it's been pretty good for us. Every time we've had a good run, we've been able to be in the top-three. Sometimes, you have a bad run and you end up with a blown engine or a loose wheel or get spun out (like) at Talladega. Today was a good day."
Busch qualified sixth for today's event and seemed to have a fairly easy time making his way toward the front once the green flag flew. He was in the top-three by lap 13 behind JGR teammate Joey Logano, the polesitter who led the first 18 laps of the race, and Edwards, who took his first lead on lap 19. Busch got Logano for second place on lap 28, but could not get any closer than 1.8 seconds of Edwards while dealing with a tight condition on corner entry and a loose condition off the corners.
Air-pressure adjustments on a lap-51 pit stop during the day's first caution period fixed the problems he was having with the back end of the car, but Busch still found himself struggling to turn during his next two green-flag runs. A track-bar adjustment on a lap-133 pit stop under caution turned out to help the tight condition. Busch resumed in third behind Logano and Edwards but immediately got Edwards on the lap-138 restart for second place, then got Logano for the lead on a lap-144 restart.
Busch held the lead for the next 25 laps until pitting for the fourth time under caution on lap 169. Edwards beat him out of the pits but, on lap 176, Busch was able to make his way past Edwards for the lead as the two were making their way through traffic, and Busch again was able to stay up front, this time for 13 laps. With 36 laps to go, Edwards and Busch raced side-by-side around the concrete oval and put on an entertaining show swapping the lead over several consecutive circuits before Edwards got Busch for good on lap 191.
"We put on a little bit of a race there," Busch said. "Brad (Keselowski) was right behind us and was kind of lurking in the distance, there. It was kind of cool to do that. Carl got a run on me, got to the bottom. I could keep the top lane momentum going a little bit, but I knew I couldn't do it between turns three and four -- I was just too tight down there. So, I let Carl go and him having the wrong trajectory into the corner, he kind of slipped up the track and I came back to his bottom -- just a little crossover. I didn't quite finish that pass. He had a really fast car and we could keep up with him momentarily, just not for the whole run that we need to. It was a good show right there. It was a little bit of racing back and forth."
Busch's JGR teammates -- Logano and Brian Scott -- finished fourth and 22nd, respectively.
Edwards' win today was his 31st career Nationwide Series victory, tying NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Jack Ingram for fourth on the all-time Nationwide Series win list. It was his second victory of the season and his fourth at Nashville.
Busch, whose five Nationwide Series wins in 2011 have given him 48 for his career -- just one win away from tying the legendary Mark Martin for the lead in career wins in NASCAR's second-highest division -- scored his fifth top-10 in 10 races at Nashville. Keselowski, Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., rounded out the top-five. Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon, Reed Sorensen, Josh Wise and Aric Almirola comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 25 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 225-lap race.
The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the April 29 Bubba Burger 250 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.