NASCAR in Joliet: Kyle Busch wins Nationwide race
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org September 14, 2013 10:36PM
Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Kyle Busch has an excellent chance to pull off a trifecta of victories this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. But even after winning the NASCAR Nationwide series’ Dollar General 300 Saturday in record fashion, Busch pooh-poohed his chances in Sunday’s first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“They’re not as good as I’d like it to be,” said Busch, who also won Friday night’s Truck series race. “We couldn’t find the feel or grip I was hoping to have (in the Cup car during practice). It’s going to be a bit of a challenge. I think we’re a top 10 car right now, but we’ll have to work through 400 miles and push hard.”
Even so, Busch served notice to the 12 other Chase drivers on the eve of Sunday’s GEICO 400.
The victory marked Busch’s 50th win driving a Toyota Camry in the Nationwide Series and 61st overall in 264 Nationwide starts.
And it was his third victory at the Joliet track in 10 races.
But the most telling statistic? Busch led a record 195 out of 200 laps. It was the most ever by a Nationwide driver at a 1.5-mile track since the late Dale Earnhardt did so in 1986 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Even when Busch was told about that achievement, he downplayed it.
“Damn Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. took the lead under the yellow flag and kept me from five more laps,” Busch joked.
Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Sam Hornish Jr. finished second and third, respectively.
Logano sees his runner-up finish as a good omen going into the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. It is Logano’s first time as a Chase driver.
“I’m excited,” Logano said. “I have a shot at winning (the GEICO 400) and I learned some things that will help. This is one of those tracks we circled as one we can really capitalize on.”
Elliott Sadler’s championship hopes took a hit — literally — and indirectly gave Hornish a boost.
With 41 laps to go, rookie driver Brett Butler rear-ended Sadler as Sadler was trying to go into the pits. After the hit, Butler’s front hood crumpled and Sadler’s rear quarter panels disintegrated.
“It was just tough,” Sadler said. “I had my hand stuck way out the window (to signal an impending pit stop), and I wear white gloves so you can see it. He tore up the car to pieces and you hate when that happens.”
Sadler is in fourth place in the points standings, 44 points behind Hornish. Sadler finished the race 19th, one lap down.
Hornish is 17 points ahead of Austin Dillon in the standings.
“I felt like we had the day that we are supposed to at this point,” Hornish said. “The people I need to focus on are myself and making sure that we race right around the other people we are trying to beat for the championship. There is a lot of speed on the Penske side and the team knows that.”