BUSCH LEADS EARLY, BUT FINISHES SIXTH AT CHARLOTTE Z-Line Designs Driver Leads Five Times for 84 Laps En Route to 23rd Top-10 Finish of 2010 Kyle Busch led five times for a race-high 84 laps in Friday night's Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide...
BUSCH LEADS EARLY, BUT FINISHES SIXTH AT CHARLOTTE
Z-Line Designs Driver Leads Five Times for 84 Laps En Route to 23rd Top-10 Finish of 2010
Kyle Busch led five times for a race-high 84 laps in Friday night's Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, but finished a disappointing sixth -- disappointing, at least, for Busch, who holds a season-high and series-record 12 wins already this season.
But the Dollar General 300 included a relatively new wrinkle, as it was just the fourth race for the new-generation Nationwide Series car, which includes a wider and taller cockpit, a longer wheelbase and a new front section consisting of a splitter, which replaces the traditional valance.
Early on, Busch took command with the new car and managed to lead much of the first half of the 200-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval. Unfortunately, the handling on his No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) began to fade in the last quarter of the race and he was unable to contend with the leaders.
Still, the sixth-place result was Busch's 23rd top-10 finish in 26 Nationwide Series starts this season.
"We started good and led a lot of laps, but as the track changed and it started cooling off, we were keeping up with it decent, and then it just really got away from us in a hurry," said crew chief Jason Ratcliff. "We tried to make some adjustments and the adjustments didn't react like we hoped they would.
"It's just part of learning this car. We made adjustments that we would've made with the other car that would've been the direction to go. With this car, it just wasn't right. Either it wasn't enough or it was the wrong adjustment -- one or the other. We're learning and I thought to start the race, it's the best we had been with the new car. At the end of the race, we were back to where we were. It's a building process and we'll be better next time."
Despite not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, Busch remains third in the championship standings, 515 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski. Busch sat out a string of standalone events in June at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., as well as a July stop at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., and an August event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
While Busch is not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, JGR's No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title. It maintained its spot atop the standings, but its advantage was cut to 119 markers over the No. 22 car of Penske Racing. JGR has won the past two Nationwide Series owner's championships.
The No. 22 car was able to cut 30 points off the No. 18 car's lead because it was wheeled by Keselowski, who won the Dollar General 300. It was his 11th career Nationwide Series victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Charlotte.
Martin Truex Jr. finished 1.137 seconds behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Justin Allgaier took third. Busch's JGR teammate, Joey Logano, finished fourth, while Clint Bowyer was fifth. Busch, Reed Sorenson, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick compromised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 36 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish.