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Incredible Comebacks at Talladega!

Kyle Busch wins his first race at Talladega!

It appeared that Kyle Busch’s day was over. After being involved in a multi-car accident on lap 89 of Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Busch’s No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota was a mangled mess, so much so that he was ready to take his car to the garage area so that his crew could load it up and get a head start on their trip home.

But crew chief Jason Ratcliff had other ideas. The veteran race-caller brought Busch to pit road where a swarm of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) crewmen went to work on repairing the Z-Line Designs Camry. Quick and tenacious effort during a series of stops allowed Busch to rejoin the field without losing a lap. And with 32 laps remaining in a car seemingly held together with duct tape and sheer will, Busch rallied his way to the front with JGR teammate Joey Logano pushing him from behind.

With a shove from Logano, Busch took the lead down the backstretch of the 2.66-mile oval and kept it when a melee erupted behind him that sent Mike Wallace’s car airborne. With NASCAR having already attempted to finish the race under green twice before, this caution provided the third and final strike. The race ended under caution with the field frozen just before entering turns three and four. Busch was clearly the leader when the caution flag waved, and after leading only three laps on three separate occasions – all before lap 36 – Busch was the leader on the lap that mattered most, allowing him to secure his fourth Nationwide Series win of the season and his second Nationwide Series win in a restrictor-plate race.

“That’s why you never give up,” said spotter Eddie D’Hondt as soon as Busch crossed the start/finish line.

“I got hit like three times on the left side and I thought it was killed. I said it was killed,” Busch remarked. “These guys did a great job putting it back together with great leadership from Jason Ratcliff. This Z-Line Designs Camry doesn’t look the best, but it was certainly the best right there at the end, especially with the guy that was pushing me.

“Joey was a great teammate today. Can’t thank everybody from the whole JGR organization. They guys on that ‘20’ car (Logano), they deserve to win just as much as we do right here. This is a team win and it’s cool to get it here. Finally, I won a Nationwide race here, so now I completed the sweep at Talladega. It’s cool to run the Nationwide Series. I love doing it and love winning, too.”

Prior to Saturday, Busch’s best Nationwide Series result at Talladega was a third-place finish in 2006. While winless in Nationwide Series competition, he did have two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories (October 2009 and October 2010) and one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win (April 2008).

“We had a steady racecar,” Busch said. “It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and getting the right push when it mattered most. Fortunately, we got it there with Joey. We were kind of working with some other people throughout the day just to see what we could figure out and what we could learn. When it came down toward the end, it was really good for us to get teamed up and for us to try to keep getting in each other’s lane so we could get the push draft going as soon as we could after the restarts.”

“I was committed to pushing him and we were going to get all the way to the front one way or the other, and then battle it out to the checkered flag,” Logano said. “But the caution came out there at the end, and all I know is I saw a car go upside down in my mirror. We were beating the heck out of these poor cars. I got hit in the door, the A-post is falling apart, the bumper is falling off every car – it was crazy out there.”
“This Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry was awesome today,” Busch added. “We had the wreck on the backstretch and I thought we were done. I said, ‘The only reason I’m going to stop is because you guys are before the garage area.’ I stopped and these guys said we could fix it. They detailed it up for me and gave it a spit shine and threw some duct tape on it and let her eat. Fortunately, it was still fast enough to where we could run up front.”

“Out of all the race tracks you go to, this place and Daytona, you spend so much time getting the bodies right, straight, and you look at this thing and you can’t believe it can even run minimal speed,” said Ratcliff as he surveyed the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota from his perch in victory lane. “Great job by the guys on pit road. Came in there, three corners were knocked off of it, the crush panels were falling out of it – it was a mess. They did a great job of orchestrating the repairs to keep from losing a lap.

“Like Kyle said, you have to have a teammate and, thankfully, Joey was committed there at the end to stand behind us and push us. He felt comfortable there and that’s the only way we were going to win it. Thanks to those guys and the ‘20’ team for their hard work. If they didn’t have a fast racecar then we wouldn’t have won it either. It was a total team effort.

“This is the ugliest racecar we’ve ever had in victory lane. To think you could do it at a restrictor-plate race – maybe it’s a new car thing. Maybe we need to come down pit road next time on the first stop and knock all the fenders off of it and be done with it. Fun day.”

Busch now has 92 victories across NASCAR’s top three divisions (Sprint Cup – 20; Nationwide – 47; Camping World Truck – 25). He is now just three wins shy of breaking the all-time Nationwide Series win record of 49, currently held by Mark Martin.
Logano came home second to give JGR a 1-2 finish, while Brian Scott, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry for JGR, finished 11th. Both drivers overcame incidets and car damage earlier in the race to post these impressive finishes.

Veteran Joe Nemechek secured third place, while Brad Keselowski and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-five. Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Reed Sorenson and Aric Almirola comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 11 caution periods for 38 laps, with 16 drivers failing to finish the 124-lap race, which was extended seven laps past its originally scheduled distance by a green-white-checkered finish.

There was a record 56 lead changes, besting the previous Nationwide Series record of 36 lead changes set at Talladega on April 28, 2007.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the April 23 Nashville 300 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 2 p.m.

Turbulence in Texas

It was a strange night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway with long green flag runs dictating strategy. In the end, Denny Hamlin would lead the Joe Gibbs Racing team with a 15th-place finish, while teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano finished 16th and 24th respectively.

Click Here to View Photos From the Event

Hamlin was running a special March of Dimes paint scheme on the No. 11 FedEx Toyota and started the night in the 23rd position. He was able to make his way forward and a two-tire stop on lap 115 allowed him to jump all the way into the top-five. However the experiment didn’t work all that well thanks to another long green flag run. Long green flag runs would mark this race however and as he battled to find the proper handle on his No. 11 Camry Hamlin would drop a lap off the pace, Despite his best efforts and those of his team, the long green flag runs would make it difficult to pick up the lucky dog or take a wave around and Hamlin was unable to get back on the lead lap. He was forced to settle for a 15th-place finish.

Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the 11th position and quickly raced his way into the top ten. Crew chief Dave Rogers and the Interstate Batteries crew continued to make adjustments to the No. 18 Camry to keep up with the changing track conditions as the day turned into night. The adjustments appeared to be working as Busch had raced his way into the third position and appeared set to compete for the win as the laps dwindled down. Unfortunately not long after a green flag pit stop on lap 251, Busch was forced to come back down pit road because of a left rear tire vibration. That unscheduled pit stop put the 18 team a lap off the leaders and back in the 17th position. Although the 18 team remained on the track for as long as they could hoping for a caution that would put them back on the lead lap – the caution would never come. Busch would have to settle for a frustrating 16th-place finish despite having a solid car throughout the race.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the eighth position and while he was set to battle inside the top ten on the track, it was his competition on pit road that ultimately would set him back. Logano was blocked in his pit stall on the first round of stops causing him to fall back to 21st for the race’s first restart. Then big trouble would come on the next round of pit stops when David Reutimann made a hard right turn out of his stall and directly into the left front end of the No. 20 Camry. The contact caused extensive damage and unfortunately there were very few cautions to allow The Home Depot team the time make the needed repairs. With long green flag runs between the cautions Logano would ultimately fall two laps behind the pace. Despite all the problems however, Logano and the Home Depot team continued to work through the adversity to salvage a 24th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth captured the victory, while Clint Bowyer was second, Carl Edwards third, Greg Biffle fourth and Paul Menard rounded out the top five. There were only five cautions for a total of 24 laps and 31 lead changes among 13 different drivers over the course of the 334-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to the circuits biggest track next Sunday, April 17 at the 2.66-mile oval of Talladega Superspeedway. The race will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at Noon ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

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Nationwide: Texas

For Joey Logano and Brian Scott, the race at Texas on Friday night was fairly routine with Logano finishing 4th and Scott in 10th. Kyle Busch was running in second place and gaining on leader Carl Edwards when a lapped car lost a right front tire just as Kyle was passing him on the outside. The slower car shot to the right in front of Kyle, who was unable to avoid contact and damage that ultimately ended his night with a 34th place finish.

 

Enjoy these photos from the race:

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Martinsville Recap & Photos

Kyle Busch led the Joe Gibbs Racing team with a third-place finish in today’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, while teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano finished 12th and 13th respectively.

Click Here to View Photos at bottom of post.

Busch started the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota in the 11th position but quickly ascended through the top ten to earn the top spot on lap 78. Busch would race inside the top five throughout the day and managed to lead six times on the day for a race-high total of 151 laps. He appeared set to claim his first-ever victory at Martinsville as he led the field to the green flag on the day’s final restart on lap 471. However, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was able to get to his bumper nine laps later and move Busch up the track to claim the lead. Much like last week in California the biggest beneficiary would be Kevin Harvick, who managed to get around both Busch and Earnhardt, Jr. in the closing laps to claim the victory. Busch would finish third just behind the No. 88 car.

Hamlin entered the day as the race favorite having captured the previous three races at the famed short track nicknamed the paper clip. It wouldn’t take long to establish the fact that his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota would be hard to beat yet again today. Hamlin started in the fifth position but navigated to the top spot by lap 35. Hamlin would race inside the top five throughout the day and would led seven times for 89 laps. Hamlin was racing in the fifth position late in the race when he came to pit road for a final stop under the green flag on lap 458. Unfortunately for the FedEx team a caution flag would come out just seven laps later prior to several cars having made their final stops. The result left Hamlin a lap down. Although Hamlin was able to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap he was forced to the rear of those cars. He managed to pick up a few spots over the course of the race’s final laps to earn a 12th-place finish.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the fourth position and quickly raced his way up into the second spot during the day’s initial laps, but tight conditions would ultimately drop him down in the field. A 25 minute red flag stop on lap 223 provided time for the Home Depot team to strategize over how to help the No. 20 Camry turn better, but shortly after the race restarted Logano was sent spinning in an effort to avoid an accident. Fortunately his car suffered no damage and was able to restart the race on the lead lap in the 26th position. Whatever the Home Depot team came up with seemed to work as Logano began to climb through the field and following a green flag round of pit stops was racing in the 12th position. Shortly thereafter the field came back down pit road under caution and he was able to pick up four more spots to restart inside the top ten in eighth with 142 laps to go. Unfortunately another caution would follow a few laps later and those behind Logano would make the decision to come down pit road for fresh tires. The fresh tires would make a difference as Logano was shuffled to the outside line on the track, which proved to be a disadvantage throughout the day, and soon found himself racing back in the 14th position with 100 laps remaining. Despite the difficulties Logano appeared set to race his way back into the top ten, but fell victim to poor timing when the day’s final caution came just a few laps after he had made his final pit stop under the green flag. The result left him a lap off the pace and he would go on to finish 13th as the first car one lap down.

Kevin Harvick captured the victory, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was second, Busch third, Juan Pablo Montoya fourth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. There were 11 cautions for a total of 72 laps, including one red flag stoppage of 25 minutes, and 31 lead changes among 12 different drivers over the course of the 500-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be in Texas next week for a Saturday night race on Saturday, April 9. The race will begin at 7:30 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 PM ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

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Post Race Report from California

Kyle Busch led Joe Gibbs Racing with another strong performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. Busch dominated much of the day and came away with a third-place finish, while a late penalty left Joey Logano with a 25th-place finish and an engine issue ended Denny Hamlin’s day early in the 39th position.

View 35 Great Pics from California

Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the eighth position and didn’t wait long to show the confidence that he had in his Camry as he shot up into third on the very first lap. Not long thereafter Busch would pass his teammate Hamlin for the top spot and the day would largely belong to the green and white Interstate Batteries car from that point forward. Busch and the 18 team put together an amazing weekend after contact with the wall in a Friday practice session forced the crew to pull out the backup car for qualifying and the race. The setback didn’t deter the team however as they proved strong throughout the day in an effort to give JGR its first ever Sprint Cup victory at the 2-mile track. A late caution forced a major decision by the team on whether or not to relinquish the lead and come down pit road for a final time with 11 laps remaining. Crew chief Dave Rogers and Busch made the call to remain on the track as did the six cars behind him. Busch managed to hold off Jimmie Johnson on the restart, but Johnson was able to come back and get around him with three laps to go. As the two battled, Kevin Harvick took advantage and managed to slide around both for the race win, while Busch and the Interstate Batteries team had to settle for a third-place finish. Busch would lead a race-high five times for 151 laps.

After a strong qualifying effort on Friday, Joey Logano woke up Sunday morning looking forward to starting his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota from the third position, but an engine change prior to the start of the race sent him to the back of the field under NASCAR rules. Logano was able to make up several positions early in the race and then continued his assent up through field as the laps remaining dwindled. He would have his Home Depot Camry up to the 15th position when a late caution flag sent those outside the top seven down pit road for a fresh set of tires. With just 10 laps remaining Logano was hoping to gain several positions on the day’s final restart to vault his No. 20 Toyota into the top ten. Unfortunately his day would end once again in frustration when he was assessed a pass-through penalty for passing prior to the start/finish line on the day’s final restart. The result left him at the back of the lead lap cars and a disappointing 25th-place finish.

Unfortunately the frustration also extended to his teammate Hamlin and his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota team. Hamlin started in the second position following a superb qualifying effort on Friday and managed to lead early for 15 laps. Trouble began however shortly after the midpoint of the race when Hamlin began to quickly drop back in the field and radioed in to crew chief Mike Ford that he felt there was a problem with the engine or electrical system. Although Hamlin managed to stay on the track until a caution flag came out, he would ultimately have to take the car behind the wall and into the garage where it was determined his day would be over. Hamlin would finish 39th.

Kevin Harvick would win the race, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Ryan Newman to round out the top-five. There were four cautions for a total of 16 laps and 18 lead changes among 10 different drivers over the course of the 200-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the East Coast next week with the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 from Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 3. The race will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 12:30 PM ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.