McMurray holds off Busch to win Nationwide race
AP Sports Writer
HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) – Jamie McMurray’s first win of the season is making Kyle Busch wait for another try at Nationwide Series history.
McMurray held off Busch to win the Great Clips 300 Nationwide Series race Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch, trying to become the first driver in the 28-year history of the Nationwide Series to win 11 races in a season, fell short in his late efforts to catch McMurray.
Busch led the most laps in the race but finished second, ahead of Carl Edwards and less than a second behind McMurray.
McMurray, who raced to his first Nationwide Series win in Atlanta in 2002, won for the first time since 2004 in Darlington.
Busch will have to try another week for his record 11th win of the season.
Sam Ard won 10 Nationwide races in 1983. Busch matched that mark in 2008. Busch’s 10th win this season came on Aug. 20 in Bristol, Tenn.
Kevin Harvick’s tire strategy helped him look like the driver to beat in the middle of the race.
Harvick left the second caution of the race on lap 60 in 14th place after taking on fresh tires while Busch and most other leaders remained on the track.
The fresh tread made an immediate dramatic difference as Harvick began passing cars with ease. Harvick took the lead from McMurray on lap 70. As he neared the midpoint of the race, Harvick had pushed his lead over the second-place Busch to a bewildering margin of 11 seconds.
Harvick led by about 13 seconds before he finally took his turn on pit row for gas and tires on lap 122 of the 195-lap race, giving Busch an opening to reclaim the lead.
Trevor Bayne lost control and went into a spin to force the race’s third caution on lap 147. Busch dropped from first to third as McMurray took the lead coming out of pit row.
Pole-sitter Kasey Kahne was in the top 10 after the third caution before his hopes of winning ended when a problem with his right front fender forced him off the track. He was three laps down when he left pit row.
Soon after Kahne’s problem, Reed Sorenson’s day ended with his nose-first crash into the wall, forcing another yellow flag. Sorenson was checked and released from the infield care center.