8th win of the season for Kyle Busch
CLERMONT, Ind (AP) – Kyle Busch held off Carl Edwards in a two-lap sprint to the finish to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at O’Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday night.
Busch used a perfectly timed restart to keep a hard-charging Edwards at bay and pick up his eighth win of the season and his fifth in his last six starts.
Edwards, who was docked 60 points and fined $25,000 for taking out series points leader Brad Keselowski at the end of last week’s race in St. Louis, kept things clean this time. He used a late gamble to take on tires to roar through the field but didn’t have quite enough to track down Busch.
Aric Almirola finished third, followed by pole-sitter Trevor Bayne and Reed Sorenson. Keselowski faded late to finish eighth.
A week after their run-in forced NASCAR officials to step in, saying they each crossed the line, Keselowski and Edwards were on their best behavior at the crowded 0.686-mile oval.
The rivals found themselves running within a couple car lengths of each other for a long stretch at the beginning of the race and again on a late restart. This time each driver gave the other a wide berth.
All of that happened in Busch’s rearview mirror. He led 144 laps, dominating at times before using a little moxie to fend off Edwards, who had fresher tires after making a late pit stop.
Busch appeared to be in the clear before Joe Nemechek hit the wall with less than 10 laps remaining. The caution set up a green/white/checkered finish, with Busch opting to take the outside lane on the restart.
While Edwards hung back, Busch took off. He quickly drew clear to take command. Edwards rallied to get on Busch’s rear quarterpanel coming out of Turn 4, but unlike last week, he opted not to dump Busch into the wall.
It was all the daylight Busch needed to continue his domination of the series. Though Keselowski holds a 205-point lead over Edwards in the championship race, Busch has left little doubt that he’s the driver to beat whenever he’s behind his No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Busch fought back a laugh on Friday while talking about the ongoing feud between Edwards and Keselowski, saying it wouldn’t affect the way he drives.
Of course it helps when you have the fastest car. Busch qualified fifth and then quickly tracked down Bayne to take the lead. He had little trouble pulling away, toying with the field at times before having just enough to stay in front of Edwards.