Busch Contends Late, Finishes Fourth At Daytona; Interstate Batteries Driver Leads Twice for 14 laps in Nationwide Season Opener Kyle Busch led twice for 14 laps and made a valiant, last-lap, final corner effort to win Saturday's season-opening...
Busch Contends Late, Finishes Fourth At Daytona; Interstate Batteries Driver Leads Twice for 14 laps in Nationwide Season Opener
Kyle Busch led twice for 14 laps and made a valiant, last-lap, final corner effort to win Saturday's season-opening Camping World 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. But for the second year in a row, Busch had to settle for second.
The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) was in second behind former JGR teammate Tony Stewart on the last lap of the 120-lap race. Busch pushed Stewart down the backstretch of the 2.5-mile oval and hard into turns three and four, hoping that Stewart's car would drift high and allow Busch to dart beneath him.
But as Busch moved low, so did Stewart, slamming the door on the inside line. The Interstate Batteries Toyota wiggled loose and Busch had to crack the throttle to regain control, allowing Stewart the cushion he needed to sweep off turn four and onto the frontstretch unchallenged. The slight burp of the gas pedal also allowed Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards to pass Busch, relegating him to fourth when the checkered flag waved.
"It was just typical Daytona," said Joel Wideman, crew chief for Busch and the Interstate Batteries team. "We had a good car all day. We just didn't get the breaks at the end. Kyle did an awesome job to put the car in position to win. It just didn't shake out the way that we wanted it to. He did everything he could but wreck Tony in the final corner, and it just didn't pan out the way we wanted it. A good effort by all of the boys and Interstate Batteries. It's an honor to have them down here in Daytona. Just wish we could've been a couple spots better."
Stewart's victory in the Camping World 300 marked the fourth time in the last five years that he has won the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona. It also marked the second time he's scored back-to-back victories in the race, as Stewart took the win in 2005 and 2006 before reappearing in victory lane in 2008 and 2009.
Finishing .068 of a second behind Stewart was Edwards, while Bowyer, Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Jason Keller and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.
Busch's JGR teammate, Joey Logano, finished 20th in the No. 20 Toyota.
There were six caution periods for 23 laps, with six drivers failing to finish.
With the first of 35 races now in the books, Busch stands fourth in the championship point standings, 25 markers arrears Stewart. It is a point situation that will change dramatically in the coming weeks, as Busch will campaign the entire Nationwide Series schedule while Stewart is slated to compete in only two more races.