Nationwide Race Recap – Food City 250 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch led four times for a race high 186 laps en route to his 50th career Nationwide victory, but it not without excitement as his teammate, Joey Logano, drag raced him to the checkered flag, losing by a mere .019 seconds. The finish was the closest in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway in the Nationwide Series. Clint Bowyer followed the action closely from third place. Carl Edwards crossed under the checkered flag in fourth position while Aric Almirola ended the race fifth.
Busch led the race at the drop of the green flag from his 23rd Nationwide pole of his career. Logano started beside Busch on the front row and assumed the second spot as the racing began. The race went green until lap 36 when Kasey Kahne and David Reutimann got together in turn four. Busch continued to lead after the restart until lap 113 when Bowyer got around him for the top spot. The caution flew for debris in turn one on lap 126 and again on lap 137 when Kenny Wallace blew a tire in turn four and stopped against the outside wall. That unfortunately ruined what was a promising night for Wallace who started the race in the fourth position.
Bowyer continued to lead on the restarts from both of those caution periods and again when Parker Kligerman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into each other in turn two on lap 146. Kligerman ultimately ended up ninth but felt like he had a better car than that. “I felt like this team had a top-five car tonight. I’m a little disappointed for these guys with the Discount Tire Dodge Challenger. They worked their butts off. Going out there and spinning out, I didn’t need to do that, but the driver was able to recover. I thought I was going to get my best Nationwide finish there in the last five laps. I just got loose underneath those guys and couldn’t pick up the positions. It’s good to get a top 10 out there tonight.”
Stenhouse was not as optimistic as Kligerman after the race ended, “That was awful. It was our worst performance of the year. We struggled from the time we unloaded up to race time. We totally missed it. Cars that beat us shouldn’t beat us and shouldn’t run in front of us. We have to go to work. We can’t be showing up with race cars like this. We have to do better, we have to show up with the cars we had in the middle part of the summer so we can win this championship. That right there is not going to get it done.
When the race went back to green for an extended period Busch pulled back up to Bowyer and the two had a spirited battle for the lead from lap 184 through lap 190, trading the lead twice and running very close to each other. Busch secured the lead and pulled away until David Starr had an accident in turn two bringing out what ended up being the last caution of the evening. Busch and Bowyer pitted for tires along with several other lead lap cars while Logano stayed on the track. Busch and Bowyer restarted in the fourth and fifth positions on lap 198 while Logano assumed the lead. Busch quickly made time and got around Logano on lap 206 to wrest the point away from his teammate. Bowyer took longer to make it back to the front actually losing some spots on the restart thanks to being in the inside line and away from the preferred groove.
While Busch extended his lead Logano conserved his tires for a final run for the win. When Busch was working through traffic Logano began to gain ground and Busch started to get loose. Over the final five laps Logano dramatically ate into Busch’s lead and got underneath him on the final lap in turns one and two. When they got to turn three Logano pushed Busch up the track and actually had his nose in front as they exited turn four. Busch however had the greater momentum on the high side of the track and was able to get his nose inches ahead as they crossed the finish line.
The win gives Busch the all-time win record in the Nationwide series with 50 victories in just 219 career starts. It broke a tie with Mark Martin who previously held the record. The win is Busch’s seventh victory in the series this season and his fourth at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Logano was very disappointed in the outcome. “So close. It’s all you can really say about that. We had a good GameStop Toyota. Kyle took off there better on tires. We were on old tires there. He was freeing up. I was catching him through the traffic and the last lap I had a good one and two, got underneath him and I did everything besides wreck him to try and pass him there and, man, it was just so close. It’s frustrating when you’re coming across the line and you’re looking at his nose compared to yours and you’re like, ‘Argh’, like three inches. It’s frustrating, but what a day for JGR. A one-two finish coming across the line that close rubbing doors. It’s cool. I just wish I was the one celebrating on the front straightaway now.”
Busch was surprised at how strong Logano was at the end of the race. “I don’t know where he came from to be honest with you. I don’t know where Joey came from, but he had a rocket ship there at the end. I just kept getting a little bit looser and a little bit looser the more we ran there. Had to protect the bottom there a little bit and we just kept rolling the bottom because he wanted it. I thought that maybe the top was going to win the thing – just trying to pinch him down a little bit. He used me up right there through three and four. I’m sure the fans loved it – I’m sure they wanted to see him win too, anybody but Kyle.”
Busch also reflected on what was going through his mind on the last lap. “I knew his spotter was going to tell him ‘use him up through three and four.’ So I planned on it and I knew he was coming. I was just hoping that the top side with the momentum would help me drag race to the start-finish line and beat him. We beat him just by a little bit so a little bit is all that matters.”’
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