It’s been seven months since Kyle Busch last visited Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and made NASCAR history by sweeping all three NASCAR national touring series races in a single weekend when he won the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races last August.
And in his return to the .533-mile oval in Saturday’s Scotts EZ Seed 300 Nationwide Series race, Busch showed no let up. The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) was as fast as ever, leading twice for a race-high 268 laps en route to his 45th career Nationwide Series victory.
“It was all in the team,” said Busch, who started fifth but needed only 31 laps before he took the lead. “These guys gave me a great racecar. We unloaded yesterday and played around with a lot of different setups to see exactly what we wanted to put underneath this Z-Line Designs Camry and get it here to victory lane. It was a great effort by everybody.”
On lap 265 of the 300-lap race, Busch notched an impressive milestone – 10,000 laps led in Nationwide Series competition.
“Anytime you’re able to break any kind of series record with the likes of Sam Ard and all the guys who made this series what it is, it’s big,” Busch said. “Kevin Harvick in his heyday was really good, and that was just a couple years ago. Of course, Mark Martin in his time, and all the guys – (Larry) Pearson and (Tommy) Houston and all those boys. It’s cool and I enjoy it. There’s still plenty more time, hopefully, to make some more records.”
Busch now has 89 victories across NASCAR’s top three divisions (Sprint Cup – 19; Nationwide – 45; Camping World Truck – 25). He could add to that total again this weekend with a win in Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
“I wish there was more opportunities for this on Sunday,” said Busch, who has four Sprint Cup wins in 12 career starts at Bristol. “I know what these guys go through and what kind of stuff they do on a daily, let alone weekly, basis in order to keep these cars competitive week in and week out. It’s like J.D. (Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing) says, ‘If we’re not competitive and we’re not winning races, then we’re not going to be here very long.’ I feel like these guys thrive on success and getting to victory lane. I give all the credit to them, but I would say that for some reason the Nationwide cars just suit my style perfectly. I don’t know what it is. I’ve always been really good in the Nationwide cars, ever since I started. In my first race I finished second, and I’ve had a lot of great success over the years with Hendrick Motorsports and NEMCO Motorsports and now with Joe Gibbs Racing. All in all, it’s fun. Let’s go do some more.”
When Busch entered victory lane upon the completion of the Scotts EZ Seed 300, it marked his second Nationwide Series win of the season and his third at Bristol. He is now just five wins shy of breaking the all-time Nationwide Series win record of 49, currently held by Mark Martin, who won the previous Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas.
“You all keep making a big deal that Mark got one away from me, well I caught back up one today,” Busch told the assembled media in his post-win press conference. “There’s still a few more before I get there, but I’m sure he’s watching and we’re hunting him down.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Brian Scott, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished fifth and 12th, respectively.
Finishing .524 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot was Kasey Kahne. Dale Earnhardt Jr., came home third, while Elliott Sadler and Logano rounded out the top-five. Harvick, Carl Edwards, Jason Leffler, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 46 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the March 26 Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., where Busch is the reigning champion. The race starts at 5:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 5 p.m.