Busch seeks unprecedented sweep today in California 500
FONTANA, Calif. ” Kyle Busch did something Saturday no one has done before in NASCAR, winning twice in the same day.
Busch added a dominating NASCAR Nationwide Series victory under the lights to an overpowering truck win earlier in the day at Auto Club Speedway.
The 23-year-old speedster, who led 95 of 100 laps in winning the Camping World Truck Series race, was out front for 143 of 150 laps on the 2-mile oval to earn his 22nd Nationwide victory. That made him the first driver to win races in two NASCAR national touring series in the same day.
Former series champion Carl Edwards beat Busch out of the pits on the last pit stops by the leaders Saturday night, but Busch powered back into the lead on the restart 16 laps from the end and pulled away.
“It’s awesome,” Busch said after climbing out of his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. “This is just a blast. It’s pretty special to beat guys like Carl and Kevin (Harvick). To win here twice in one day is even more special. … This was pretty close to a perfect day.”
Despite building leads of up to 11 seconds at times during the race, it all came down to the restart on lap 135 after Edwards beat Busch out of the pits by the length of the hood on his No. 60 Ford to take the lead and threaten to end Busch’s dominance.
But Busch wasn’t going to let that happen.
On the restart, Busch nudged Edwards and dove under him as Harvick, in third, made it three-wide for several seconds before Edwards slipped all the way to fifth. Busch easily led the rest of the way, beating Harvick to the finish line by 1.011 seconds ” most of the front straightaway and almost the same margin he had in beating Todd Bodine in the truck race.
Busch’s JGR teammate Joey Logano held off a determined bid by Edwards to finish third in the Nationwide event.
“You know, it’s just racing,” Edwards said of the winning pass. “I couldn’t see behind me, but it felt like we were just racing real hard. I think I might have got touched, but he was going for the win and that’s what the fans pay for.
“Man, Kyle was just in a league of his own tonight, so it was tough to be able to hang with him for most of the night.”
Busch almost pulled off the double in July 2007 at Daytona when the Nationwide race was postponed by rain and run the morning of the Cup race.
“We were close to making it happen back then,” Busch said. “I won the Nationwide race and then I lost by I guess 3 or 4 inches or something to Jamie McMurray in the Cup race.
That would have been pretty awesome to get it at Daytona because its our biggest stage. But now we’ll look forward to trying to win the triple.”
Busch will try for the unprecedented weekend sweep in Sunday’s Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup event.
“That would be incredible, but it’s going to be tough with Carl and Jimmie (Johnson) to beat,” said Busch, who along with Edwards are the only Cup regulars also planning to run the entire Nationwide schedule this year.
The victory came in the first race back for crew chief Jason Ratliff, suspended along with fellow crew chief Dave Rogers for the second half of last season after the Gibbs team was caught trying to manipulate the results of an engine dynomometer test at Michigan International Speedway.
“I’ve been dreaming about this,” Ratliff said. “It’s a heck of a way to come back. After what we experienced at the end of last season, that makes this win even more special.”
This was a distinctly different result from Daytona last week, when Busch failed to make a pair of last-lap passes work, finishing second to Bodine in the truck opener and falling to fourth after unsuccessfully trying to bump eventual winner Tony Stewart out of the way in Nationwide.
Busch also had the dominant car in the first part of last Sunday’s Daytona 500, leading 88 laps before being was caught up in the 10-car crash started by Dale Earnhardt and Brian Vickers on lap 125.
“Maybe we can make it happen this time,” Busch said. “We’re sure going to give it a shot.”