Watkins Glen: Kyle Busch race report

Busch & JGR 'Combo' Finish Fifth in NNS Race at The Glen Kyle Busch and Combos, 4-1 in their five previous NASCAR pairings, brought home a solid fifth-place finish in their sixth run together in Saturday's Zippo 200 at The Glen NASCAR Nationwide...

Busch & JGR 'Combo' Finish Fifth in NNS Race at The Glen

Kyle Busch and Combos, 4-1 in their five previous NASCAR pairings, brought home a solid fifth-place finish in their sixth run together in Saturday's Zippo 200 at The Glen NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), led 14 laps and banked on a mid-race chassis adjustment to help him keep control of the race, much as he has en route to the nine wins he's already recorded this year, including the last three Nationwide Series races he entered prior to today's race at the 11-turn, 2.45-mile road course.

But the lap-49 track bar adjustment ended up working against Busch, who did his best to stay on the tail of race-winner Marcos Ambrose in second place despite a loose-handling racecar. With just 19 laps to go in the 82-lap event, Busch could not hold off JGR teammate Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick in third, fourth and fifth place behind him. One by one, the trio made its way past Busch on lap 63, but Busch was able to hold off a determined Ron Fellows for the final spot in the top-five.

For the first half of the race, Busch appeared to be the only competitor Ambrose had to worry about. Busch got off to a strong start from his fifth spot in the 43-car field, momentarily fell back to sixth on the opening lap when Harvick slipped by, but picked up two spots to climb to fourth before the day's first pit stop under green on lap 13.

Busch resumed in 18th, but methodically made his way back into the top-five by lap 18 as the rest of the leaders made their opening pit stops. Busch was up to third behind Ambrose and former Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve when the red flag appeared for a huge, multi-car accident at the end of turn one. When the race went back to green on lap 26, Busch did a marvelous job of getting by Ambrose for the lead on the restart, powering his way past the Australian driver with a savvy move around the fast, sweeping right-hand turn one. He held the lead for the next 14 laps, dogged by Ambrose the entire time, before the pair happened upon a slow, lapped car coming out of turn two on lap 41. Busch was forced to check up and Ambrose seized the opportunity to pass Busch and retake the lead. Ambrose, who started from the pole, was never challenged thereafter.

"The guys on this Combos Camry gave me a great racecar to probably win the race," Busch said. "I made a mistake in lapped traffic and he (Ambrose) got by us, but after that we still felt like we had a good car to try to race with him and beat him, but we overstepped the adjustment. We went too far. We just wanted to make it turn a little bit better. I felt like he (Ambrose) was beating me through the Carousel. We raised the track bar and just killed our side bite. I couldn't get into the corners or off the corners. I just slid backward from there.

"But, overall, a good day. It was a good performance. It keeps us up there in the owner's points and we'll take it on to next week."

Busch's 14 laps led marked the 18th straight race where he's led at least one lap this season. His 2010 laps-led tally stands at an impressive 1,376. Busch broke the series record for laps led in June at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where he led six times for a race-high 125 laps en route to the win. The previous record-holder was Mark Martin with 8,082 laps led.

Despite not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, Busch is third in the championship standings, 473 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., as well as the series' July stop at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.

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, and it now holds a 34-point advantage over the No. 22 car of Penske Racing. JGR has won the past two Nationwide Series owner's championships.

Ambrose's win in the Zippo 200 at The Glen was his first of the season and his third career Nationwide Series victory -- all of which have come at Watkins Glen.

Logano finished 2.834 seconds behind Ambrose in the runner-up spot, while Harvick, Keselowski and Busch rounded-out the top-five. Fellows, Nelson Piquet, Villeneuve, Steven Wallace and Michael McDowell comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were four caution periods for 10 laps, with 14 drivers failing to finish.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the Aug. 14 Carfax 250 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

-source: tsc

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Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Kevin Harvick , Ron Fellows , Michael McDowell , Nelson Piquet , Marcos Ambrose , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske , Joe Gibbs Racing