CONCORD, N.C. – Bizarre hardly seems like the right word to describe the ending of the Dollar General 300 Busch Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Heading into the last quarter of the race, that was hardly the case; the Roush Racing Fords of Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards were holding station at the front, and it looked like Edwards would cruise to the win.
Then, everything went Friday the 13th.
During a final round of green-flag pit stops, Casey Mears had yet to pit and was leading the field when a caution flew with a handful of laps remaining for Jamie McMurray‘s crash in turn 2. Mears made his final stop under the yellow and came back out on the track in front of Edwards, who did not pit, but there was some question as to whether Mears came off pit road legally in front of Edwards or whether he ran the red light at the exit.
NASCAR was forced to throw the red flag with 10 laps to go as a result and sort the situation out; after a 6:14 delay, they determined that Mears did run the light and Edwards was declared the leader.
Mears wasn’t done yet, though, and raced Edwards hard to get the lead back as the laps ticked off towards the finish. Unfortunately for both drivers, it was too hard; with two laps to go, Mears got into the marbles trying to go around the high side of Edwards and lost control of his No. 42 Havoline Dodge.
“I got the outside lane, and when I got the outside lane, he started running up the track and it took off. I got loose and took him out,” said Mears.
With the race red-flagged again for a lengthy cleanup, that only served to be the beginning of the wild finish. The departure of Mears and Edwards left Dave Blaney in the lead, but he’d have to hold off Kenseth for the green/white/checkered finish to claim his first Busch Series win. It looked like it might slip away when Blaney slid high during the last lap of the race, opening the door for Kenseth to sneak by.
But Blaney stood on the gas, and coming out of turn 4 for the checkered flag Kenseth bobbled and then lost control of the No. 17 Ameriquest Ford, spinning down the frontstretch as Blaney drove off for the win.
“That was fun. That was crazy in and out,” said Blaney. “[I] had a good car for a while, had a bad car for a while, and had a flat tire and got the lucky dog just at the right time and I knew what I had to do to hold Matt off… didn’t think I could do it but we got there and (that) was cool.”
“It was crazy,” said Waltrip of the wild finish. “In a year or so, you’ll forget 16 or 17 of them crashed in front of me to get second.”
Edwards’s bad luck was Kevin Harvick‘s good luck as Harvick managed to clinch the Busch Series championship, the earliest any driver has ever done so. His margin currently stands at 775 points over second-place Edwards with four races remaining.
“It’s been a great year for me in the Busch car,” beamed Harvick upon exiting his No. 33 Dollar General Chevrolet. His second Busch Series championship in five years, Harvick has now won both titles while racing the full series schedule in Cup during the same time period.