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Busch wins Nationwide race as fight erupts

by Pete McCole
Sunday, May 25, 2008

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Kyle Busch
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
The Joe Gibbs Racing win streak in the NASCAR Nationwide Series has finally been broken, and surprisingly the driver that brought the streak to an end was a JGR driver as Kyle Busch gambled on fuel to win Saturday night’s Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway

Driving the no. 32 Toyota Camry fielded by Braun Racing, Busch led the final 39 laps, feathering the engine during he final five caution flags to beat JGR teammate Denny Hamlin in a three-lap green-white-checkered finish.

“There’s a little bit or irony there,” said Busch of ending the JGR winning streak. “The Joe Gibbs cars have been pretty stout this season, but this Braun Racing car was pretty strong too, and helped us end the Gibbs streak.

“We knew that tires were going to be an issue at the end, but staying out and taking a gamble was worth it.”

JR Motorsports teammates Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came home third and fourth, respectively, followed by Brian Vickers.

There were questions whether or not Busch would have enough fuel to finish, but several late race caution flags allowed him to turn off his motor and coast around the track under caution, giving him the last drops of fuel he needed.

“I was concerned a little bit” about the fuel, Busch said. “Every caution we had, I could just shut the motor off and make a whole lap around under caution without the motor running, so that gained us probably two laps right there.

“Fortunately, there was enough gas in the tank and we were able to make it – with some burnouts.”

The final caution with three laps to go set up the final shootout as well as a showdown between Hamlin and Keselowski.

Keselowski, looking for his first series victory, drove into the bumper of Hamlin’s car during the final caution flag, causing Hamlin to retaliate by swerving into Keselowski, causing damage to Keselowski’s car.

Earnhardt, Jr. – who owns Keselowski’s car – also got into the act, pulling up to give Hamlin a protest tap of his own.

Following the race, both Hamlin and Keselowski’s pit crews scuffled on pit road as NASCAR officials attempted to restore order.

During their post-race press conference, Keselowski and Hamlin sat on opposite ends of the stage as they fielded questions about the on-track incident.

“There were many times during the race where I had him cleared, but instead he hangs on my right-rear quarter and goes into the corner right on my door, and that pisses drivers off,” said Hamlin. “I think it’s just him racing in the Nationwide Series without having any (Sprint) Cup experience, learning how to let guys go at times.”

“I was just going to talk to him after the race, but for some reason he picked my back tires up (during the caution) and pulled up beside me, so I retaliated. You throw a rock, I’m going to throw a concrete block back.”

“I raced him hard, and that’s what racing is, and he didn’t like us racing him hard,” said Keselowski. “Well, that’s the sport and that’s what I do, I raced him hard and he didn’t think that was cool, so he decided to take my left-front fender off.

“It didn’t really affect anything in the end, we only had three laps, I might have had enough to make a run at Kyle (Busch), but that was it.”

Both drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler following the race, but it was unclear whether either of them will by facing any fines for their on-track behavior.

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