Saturday? Another Kyle Busch night
Saturday, Jul. 31, 2010
NEWTON, Iowa Kyle Busch is now a better bet than the Nationwide Series field.
Busch raced to his sixth victory in his last seven Nationwide starts and ninth in 17 events this season Saturday night, leading 209 of 250 laps in a dominating run at Iowa Speedway.
Busch moved a victory away from the series season victory record of 10 he shares with Sam Ard. Busch, a 10-time winner in 2008, is second in series history with 39 victories, nine behind Mark Martin's record.
Given that Busch has won more than he's lost so far, that 10-win record seems destined to fall this season.
Martin's career mark doesn't seem all that safe either.
"I'm looking forward to it, man. I can't wait to get to win 11, and hopefully more after that," Busch said.
Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Jason Leffler. Brad Keselowski, who beat Busch in Iowa last year, finished fourth to stay atop the series points standings by 231 points over Carl Edwards, who was 10th.
Trevor Bayne, who became the first Nationwide driver in 18 years to capture three consecutive poles earlier Saturday, finished fifth in front of a standing-room only crowd of nearly 56,000.
Harvick took the lead from Busch during a late pit stop by taking just two tires while Busch grabbed four. But that mattered little to Busch, who had the strongest car of the night.
The No. 18 Toyota zipped past Harvick on the outside with 25 laps to go on the 0.875-mile oval, winning without running a single practice lap for the second week in a row.
"Harvick scared us a little bit at the end there, putting on two (tires) and having a good jump on us at the restart there, but we ran him down," Busch said.
Busch, who started second after flying back from practice for the Sprint Cup race Saturday at Pocono with Harvick, grabbed the lead from Bayne soon after the race went green, marking the 17th straight Nationwide race he's led at some point.
Busch was still in front when Reed Sorenson popped a front tire 42 laps in, causing the No. 32 car to slam into the wall and catch fire under the hood. Sorenson, who was running 12th, was pulled out safely.
Bayne gave Busch all he could handle through the first third of the race, briefly jumping ahead and leading a total of 21 laps.
Bayne was the first driver to start out front in three straight races since Jeff Gordon did it in 1992, and at 19 he's also the youngest to do so.
Bayne has yet to turn all that qualifying speed into a victory, though. He began to fade as the sun went down and his car got tighter, and he was overtaken by Harvick two-thirds of the way in. Bayne's best finish came at Gateway two weeks ago when he crossed third.
"If that thing would've ended in the daylight we probably could have got our first win here," Bayne said. "Three poles in a row, I mean, I hear that's not very heard of so that's awesome."
Brian Keselowski drilled Colin Braun after Braun slid into the wall and came to a stop in the middle of the track 93 laps in. Busch retook the lead on the restart and was 3 seconds ahead by the midway point.
With Sunday's race at Pocono nearly 1,000 miles away from Iowa, only eight drivers are doing double-duty this weekend. That gave hope to many of the Nationwide-only drivers that they could snap a 16-race winless streak dating to Justin Allgaier's win at Bristol in March.
Alas, that stretch is now at 17 races. Leffler's third-place finish was tops among Nationwide-only drivers, though six of them finished in the top 10.
But once again, Busch's No. 18 car proved too strong for the rest of the field.
"We ran really good. It's hard to run with the 18," Leffler said.