Chicagoland: Kyle Busch race report

BUSCH BRINGS THE HEAT TO CHICAGOLAND Z-Line Designs Driver Wins Series-Best Seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series Race of 2010 As a summer heat wave scorched the East Coast, Kyle Busch brought the heat to the Midwest by dominating Friday night's ...

Z-Line Designs Driver Wins Series-Best Seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series Race of 2010

As a summer heat wave scorched the East Coast, Kyle Busch brought the heat to the Midwest by dominating Friday night's Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/OfficeMax Toyota Camry blistered the 1.5-mile oval throughout much of the 203-lap contest, as he took the lead on just the 10th circuit after starting eighth.

Busch led the next 46 laps before making a scheduled pit stop under green for four tires and fuel. But just as the 25-year-old was fast on the racetrack, he was also fast on pit road -- too fast, it turned out. Busch was nabbed for speeding, and he had to serve a pass-through penalty on lap 60 that sent him down pit road at the mandated 45 mph speed limit.

That dropped him to sixth, 14 seconds behind new leader Brad Keselowski. Yet Busch took what little drama the miscue created and squashed it, roaring back into the lead on lap 81.

The Las Vegas native's only serious challenge came from his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Joey Logano, who managed to get ahead of Busch during a round of pit stops while the race was under caution on lap 143.

For the lap-148 restart, Logano and Busch were 1-2, and Logano scored the holeshot as the field sailed off into turns one and two. Logano held his advantage over Busch until a caution on lap 185 allowed Busch and the rest of the leaders to come to pit road for fresh tires.

The Z-Line Designs team took full advantage of the opportunity, making a chassis adjustment along the way to loosen up the No. 18 machine through the track's corners.

With other teams opting to take only two tires, Busch restarted in sixth on lap 190 with four fresh tires, creating a shootout to the finish. Busch rose to fourth, but his once dominant car was now too tight, and a win that seemed all but certain was now very much in doubt.

However, when rookie Trevor Bayne smacked the turn one wall on lap 198, it set up a green-white-checkered finish. Making matters more interesting was second-place Keselowski running out of fuel before the field took the green. That allowed Busch to inherit the outside of row one for what would be the race's final restart.

"They gave it to us and we restarted on the outside next to Joey," Busch said. "You know you just have to get a good restart at that point and be able to get up there next to him through (turns) one and two and try to hold him down a little bit and stay alongside him. We were able to do that and we were able to clear him through (turns) three and four."

When the green flag dropped, the two JGR drivers charged into turn one in a tenacious battle for the lead. Busch held a slight edge over Logano as the duo came off turn two, and then held his right foot to the floor entering turn three, escaping from Logano as they came off turn four to take the white flag.

"Our car was fast, man. It was fast when we unloaded it. It was one of the best cars here all weekend. Clean air was really important, but it came to us right at the end and things sort of fell our way."

As the rest of the field came to the start/finish line, a multi-car accident off turn four unofficially ended the race, for the event would end under caution since the yellow flag waved on the final lap. All Busch had to do was cross the stripe one final time, and when he did, his series-leading seventh win of the season was his.

"It wasn't easy," said Busch, who can now claim second on the Nationwide Series all-time win all to himself, for his 37th career win pushed him past Kevin Harvick, who Busch had been tied with after winning June 26 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. "We had the track position when it mattered and the car got really, really tight on us. But, these guys never gave up. They knew I had it in me. I didn't think I had it in me. It's fun to race the Nationwide Series. I love it. To win as many as we won and to be successful as JGR -- it's fun every week. It's always cool to come out here and put on a good show."

Busch wound up leading four times for a race-high 110 laps, pushing his Nationwide Series laps-led tally to an even more impressive 8,246 laps. Busch broke the series record at New Hampshire, where he led six times for a race-high 125 laps. The previous record-holder was Mark Martin with 8,082 laps led. Martin is the all-time win record-holder with 48.

"It's pretty awesome. It feels great to be able to be second right now to Mark Martin," Busch added. "I thought we were going to be second tonight to Joey, but we've got a lot ahead of us here. We can catch Mark and hopefully we can do it next year. We'll see."

Busch now has 73 victories in NASCAR's top three divisions (Sprint Cup -- 18; Nationwide -- 37; Camping World Truck -- 18). Even more impressive is that despite not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, Busch is third in the championship standings, 425 points behind series leader 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., before returning to the seat of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota at New Hampshire.

Rookie Brian Scott finished third behind Busch and Logano, while David Reutimann came home fourth. Jason Leffler, Carl Edwards, Harvick, Reed Sorenson, Jamie McMurray and Justin Allgaier comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 20 laps, with 13 drivers failing to finish the 203-lap race.

While Busch is not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, JGR's No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title. It took over the top spot in the championship standings with the victory at Chicagoland, and it now holds a nine-point advantage over the No. 22 car of Penske Racing. JGR has won the past two Nationwide Series owner's championships.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the July 17 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.

-source: jgr

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Drivers Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Jamie McMurray , Trevor Bayne , Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Justin Allgaier , Joey Logano , Brian Scott , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske