|Kyle Busch held off Carl Edwards to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lipton Tea 250|
|Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR|
It may be too early to call the run for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship a two-man race, but Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards continued to assert their dominance Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.
In a five-lap run to the finish after the 10th caution of the race, Busch held off Edwards by 0.584 seconds in the Lipton Tea 250 and extended his lead in the championships standings to 82 points over second-place Edwards.
"It's fun here at Richmond -- I love winning here at Richmond," said Busch, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Saturday. "We're in championship form. We've just got to keep digging."
The victory was Busch's third of the year, his third at Richmond and his 24th in the series. Matt Kenseth finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Joey Logano, Mark Martin, rookie Michael McDowell, Jason Keller and Jason Leffler completed the top 10.
In Edwards' view, the difference in the race was Busch's performance on the restarts.
"He smoked me on the restarts," Edwards said. "I did everything I could. That car that he's got there just runs really well on those restarts. I could probably do a little bit better job, but I did the best I could on that last one, and I couldn't get near him.
"But it's a great racecar, and even though it's second, it's still a decent points day, and it's good to be this strong here at Richmond."
The seventh caution of the race, called on Lap 203 when Morgan Shepherd's Chevrolet stopped on the track, bunched the field and put all the lead-lap cars back on the same pit sequence. Shortly after the restart on Lap 209, a broken track bar ruined a stellar run by Mike Bliss, who had opened a lead of more than five seconds during a long green-flag run early in the race. He finished 33rd.
Edwards won the race off pit road on Lap 205 but had to fend off a persistent challenge from Busch before Ken Butler's crash on Lap 220 caused the eighth caution of the night. Keselowski came to the pits for right-side tires on Lap 224.
After Busch grabbed the lead from Edwards on Lap 230 and began to pull away, contact between Keselowski and Leffler on Lap 233 ignited a four-car accident that also involved Jeff Burton and Brian Scott. The field restarted on Lap 243, with Busch leading Edwards, Kenseth, McDowell and Keselowski to the stripe.
The 10th caution of the race, for Kenny Wallace's spin on Lap 243, set up the final run to the finish.
Q&A With Busch
What got you through to victory lane?
"Perseverance man, you've just got to keep digging. I really want to thank all these guys on this team. They do a phenomenal job week in and week out. I've just really got to thank NOS and Z-Line and the fans, Toyota, Marquis Jets, Gillette, DirecTV -- everybody that makes this program possible for us. All of the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing -- everybody from the fab shop to the cleanup crew to everybody that works so hard to really make it fun. I've got to thank J.D. and Joe (Gibbs) and those guys. I don't know what else to say, man, this is pretty fun here at Richmond. I love winning here. This is one of Denny's (Hamlin) favorite places, too. He always wins here so it's a hometown for him and unfortunately we didn't have another Nationwide car for him to run tonight so we had to make sure we won in his hometown."
Do you feel comfortable with your lead in the championship point standings?
"Yeah, Nationwide is great, but we've got to win the championship -- we want to win the championship here of course, too. We want to win both of them, too. To come out of here with the Sprint Cup title would be awesome. We' re championship-form -- we've just got to keep digging. We can't falter like I did in the beginning of the year and like the team did in the beginning of the year. Smooth nights like tonight where nothing goes wrong is kind of picture perfect and scripted."
Did your crew need to make a lot of adjustments today?
"These guys really earned their money today. They work awful hard in practice. We made a lot of changes to it. It looked like the 33 (Kevin Harvick) team next to us was on vacation, they really weren't doing anything. We kept thrashing. We chased the track a lot and then we started the race too tight and we loosened it up and it really came to life. I didn't think anybody had anything for the 1 (Mike Bliss) car. It was pretty stout tonight, but it felt like Carl (Edwards) was really good on the long run too, but we had the best car when it mattered the most at the end."
Did you learn things from tonight for tomorrow's Sprint Cup race?
"Some of the adjustments we did today we'll use for tomorrow. Some air pressure stuff and some wedge and track bar stuff, but other than that they're a lot different, but you can learn some tendencies tonight that will translate into tomorrow and the way that you drive them."
Can you talk about the last pass to take the lead?
"It was on a restart there. He (Carl Edwards) didn't come up through the gears very well for some reason. I faked low and went to the outside and just drove around him on the high-side. He gave me the space and I gave him some space so we could race clean and we made it around him and that was pretty much it."
Do you feel like tonight's win gets you back on track?
"Yeah, it does. It's felt like forever. (Jeff) Dickerson (spotter, manager) were talking about that. We've gone four or five weeks in a row of 17th or worse in the Cup Series and it's just frustrating. We've had runs that have been better than that, we've just taken ourselves out of the running toward the end of the race. I feel like tonight was a good night to get back on track. We won last night and that was cool. It was a fun race. Tonight was a race that mattered and we had our biggest challenger behind us in Carl (Edwards) to beat him out straight up. We had some other issues that we fought through tonight with the car, but we got it all squared away and handled before the end of the race so that was nice."
||NOS Energy Drink
||Scotts Miracle-Gro Moisture Control
||Rheem Tankless Water Heaters
||Michael McDowell *
||Kroger / Tom's Snacks
||Huggies / Kotex / Kroger
||Erik Darnell *
||Northern Tool + Equipment
||Long John Silver's
||Stop Repair Bills.com
||Scott Lagasse Jr. *
||America's Incredible Pizza Company
||Peyton Sellers *
||Danny O'Quinn Jr.
||American Basketball Association
||U.S. Border Patrol
||D.H. Griffin Companies
||Brendan Gaughan *
||Loanmax Title Loans
||Marc Davis *
||Howard University Radio WHUR 96.3
||Holiday Inn / Holiday Inn Express
||Miccosukee Resort & Gaming
||Michael Annett *
||Pilot Travel Centers
||Ken Butler III *
||Aaron's Dream Machine
||Strange's Florist / Lagina Plumbing / Eldora Speedway
||Oil Pressure |
||Samuel Metals / VSI Racing
||Rear End |
||Justin Allgaier *
||Verizon Wireless / Star Trek
||Hefty / Kroger
||Cash4Gold.com / Racing 1-800-527-1801
||Terry Cook *
* Denotes Rookie