Kyle Busch Triumphant in Lipton Tea 250
Kyle Busch savored a hard fought victory over Carl Edwards in the Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Busch was the vision of “Racing Perfection” at just the right time, racing to a 0.584sec win under the lights after a 5-lap dash to the finish. A jubilant Busch said “I don’t know what else to say. We had a great car. We’re in championship form right now. It was picture perfect, like it was scripted.”
A thoughtful Edwards remarked, “He (Busch) smoked me on the restarts. His car went really well on the restarts. I’ve been working really hard on them, but when I saw him right on my bumper coming across the start finish line, I knew it was trouble.”
Third placed Matt Kenseth commented “We just couldn’t get it quite right tonight to run with those guys.”
Busch’s victory was the 24th career win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the young racer from Nevada.
After Charlie Daniels thrilled the crowd with his rendition of the National Anthem, Matt Kenseth (#16 CitiFinancial Ford) brought the NASCAR Nationwide Series field to the green flag for the start of the Lipton Tea 250. Kyle Busch (#18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota), who started on the inside of the second row, put Kenseth under pressure immediately, hounding the pole sitter and grabbing the lead on lap 3.
Shortly after Kyle Busch had snatched the lead from polesitter Kenseth, Benny Gordon (#72 VSI/Samuel & Sons Ford) and Steve Wallace (#66 USfidelis Chevrolet) tangled on lap 6. Wallace slid up the track pushing Gordon into a spin, causing Gordon to contact the turn 2 SAFER barrier.
The second caution of the evening flew on lap 13. Just as Mike Bliss was taking the lead away from Kyle Busch, there was a melee in turn 2. Scott Lagasse Jr (#11 America’s Incredible Pizza Company Toyota) ran into the back of Eric McClure’s (#24 Hefty Ford) machine after McClure had to back off the throttle to avoid spinning. Lagasse Jr. was already driving a back up car after totaling his primary machine in morning practice. Also caught up in the mess was Justin Allgaier in the #12 Star Trek/Verizon Wireless Dodge.
As Bliss motored comfortably out front, a caution waved on lap 66 for debris on the race track and brought on a flurry of pit stops. Bliss was able to hold onto the lead, ahead of Busch, Carl Edwards (#60 Scotts/Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Ford) and Matt Kenseth. On the restart, Busch got the jump on Bliss, taking the lead one lap later. Over the ensuing green flap laps, Busch was able to pull out a comfortable lead over Bliss, Edwards, Kenseth and Jason Leffler (#38 Great Clips Toyota).
Brandon Whitt (#61 Ford) brought out another caution when his machine slowed suddenly on the track. All of the other front-runners headed for the pits, but Bliss and his crew made the decision to stay on the track. Immediately after the green flag waved, those cars running on fresh tires just drove around Bliss’s Chevrolet.
None of the front-runners headed for pit road during the next caution period. This slow-down was caused when Brian Scott (#10 Great Clips Toyota) made an ill-advised three-wide move into turn 3. Scott made contact with Michael Annett (#15Pilot Travel Centers Toyota), sending the Toyota into Marc Davis (#36 Howard University WHUR Toyota) who also spun. The three were extremely lucky that all of the pursuing racers were able to avoid their spinning machines.
Bliss finally made his second pit stop on lap 132 as the leaders ran slowly behind the pace car. He would find himself down in 13th position when the green waved again.Carl Edwards was finally able to wrestle the lead from Kyle Busch after stalking him for over 20 laps. These two held a comfortable lead over Brad Keselowski (#88 Delphi Chevrolet). By lap 190, Bliss was able to work his way back up to 4th place behind Keselowski.
Keselowski moved around Kyle Busch and into second place on lap 195.
The seventh caution flew on lap 203 when Morgan Shepherd’s (#89 Eldora Speedway/Lagina Plumbing Chevrolet) racer slowed on the racing line, unable to make it to pit road under green flag racing conditions. The timing of the caution was perfect for the leaders, as they were all making plans for risky green-flag pit-stops. Edwards’ team got their man out in the lead. Behind them, Busch’s crew beat Keselowski’s, moving Busch back into the second spot. Bliss lined up 4th ahead of Matt Kenseth, as they geared up to take the green flag on lap 209.
Bliss’s evening was ruined on lap 212 when his left rear suspension failed, sending him behind the wall. Evidence of an impending failure had been evident in the laps before the previous caution. Kevin Harvick even radioed his crew to tell NASCAR that there was a problem with Bliss’s Chevrolet. The left rear tire was beginning to protrude from under the fender well.
As the race resumed, the top three of Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were running nose to tail. Just as the crowd was looking forward to a thrilling battle between these top 3 drivers, the caution waved again when Kevin Butler (#23 Aaron’s Chevrolet) ran into trouble.
After the green flag waved on lap 228, Kyle Busch took the lead from Carl Edwards, immediately pulling out a two length lead. As they battled over 5th position, Brad Keselowski tapped Jason Leffler into a spin in turn 2. Unable to avoid the spinning cars, Brian Scott plowed into the back of Leffler and knocked Jeff Burton (#29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) into a lengthy set of spins. Just when it looked like Burton had his car under control, it snapped across the track and hit the inside wall.
The dash to the finish was interrupted as soon as it started on lap 242. Kenny Wallace (# 28 US Border Patrol Chevrolet) spun in turn 2 and backed heavily into the outside wall.
The green flag flew for the last time on lap 245 with Kyle Busch leading Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. Despite Edwards’ best efforts, Busch was able to hold on for the win by 0.584 seconds over Edwards.
Kyle Busch lead 115 laps in tonight’s Lipton 250 and now leads Carl Edwards by 82 points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings.