Busch wins again at Bristol - 2 down 1 to go
Busch moved one step closer to becoming the first driver to win a race in all three of NASCAR’s top series is a single weekend with a victory in Friday night’s wild finish to the Food City 250 Nationwide Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Fresh off of his worst-to-first performance in Wednesday night’s Camping World Truck Series event, Busch took out Keselowski with 32 laps to go and held off Jason Leffler through the final laps to claim his record-tying 10th win the season.
Elliott Sadler, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.
Following Friday night’s victory, an unapologetic Busch not only admitted to taking out Keselowski, he said he had it coming.
“I tried and tried and tried lap after lap to stay clean with Brad (Keselowski) and I finally had him almost cleared - yeah I slid up in front of him - that’s a slide job and then he ran into the back of me and put me in the wall,” said Busch. “So, I said forget it man, you play that game and I’ll play it back. So, I dumped him.”
“I thought I had him cleared on the back and I moved up in front of him and instead of him doing an Earnhardt crossover move he decided that he would just run into the back of me and put me in the fence. So, that’s Brad Keselowski. So, you know, I went down into the next corner and dumped him.
“He does it to everybody else. Why can’t I do it to him?”
With Keselowski on probation from a run-in with Carl Edwards last month, there was little chance of a post-race confrontation that the crowd was clearly expecting, as Busch did his celebratory burnouts to a chorus of boos from the fans.
Keselowski showed little emotion as he emerged from his battered machine, keenly aware that his probationary status means he is racing with a target on his back
“Early in the race, I had the lead on a restart and he ran me up the track in (Turns) 3 and 4 and I lifted, gave him the lane there when I didn’t have too. Just being a good guy, because I’m a member of the good guy club,” said Keselowski. “It is what it is. We'll go to work and work on beating his ass.
“I’m on probation for racing hard and that allows everyone to intentionally wreck me. The fans saw what happened. He’ll get his.”
Keselowski held the lead for 57 laps before Busch moved into second place with 50 laps to go and got into a side-by-side brawl for the top spot.
After 10 laps, Busch finally slid up in front of Keselowski and just clipped the front of the no. 22 Dodge, causing Busch to smack the outside wall.
Busch came right back as they went through turn four, getting inside of Keselowski and turning him around right at the start-finish line, causing heavy damage to the left side of Keselowski’s car.
Busch restarted at the front of the pack with 25 laps to go, followed by Joey Logano, Earnhardt, Jr. and Leffler with Keselowski back in 18th.
Just two laps later Logano got spun racing Earnhardt, Jr. for second, collecting Clint Bowyer and again, Keselowski.
Another late caution set up a 10-lap sprint to the finish with Sadler and Leffler knifing for position behind Busch with Leffler finally taking the position, but not soon enough to catch Busch, who pulled out to a half-straightaway lead to the finish.
Busch’s run-in with Keselowski overshadowed his bid to become the first driver to sweep all three series’ events. Busch came close at this same race a year ago – winning in the trucks and Cup events - but stumbled in the Nationwide race, finishing 28th.
It’s going to be difficult…it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity as we’ve seen,” said Busch. “I haven’t been able to get it done yet. I’ve been close a few times, but it seems like the last one is always the hardest one to get. You never know what happens.
“It’s 500 laps of racing at Bristol under the lights so we could have something bad happen early on and be done right there.”
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