Carl Edwards did everything he could to try and steal his second consecutive Nationwide Series crown. Qualifying on the outside pole, Edwards ran in the top five all race long and led a third of the race (66 laps). Edwards also managed to pass Kyle Busch’s vaunted No. 18 Toyota with 34 laps to go on an intermediate oval, scoring his second consecutive win and seventh of the season. But it wasn’t enough.
Carl Edwards talked all week about how his No. 60 team had to be perfect the next two weekends if they had any shot of scoring a second consecutive Nationwide title. And while there were minor hiccups, the No. 60 group did everything they could, leading the most laps and dominating the second half of Saturday’s event to score Edwards his sixth win of the season.
The results at Texas Motor Speedway were exactly what anyone who’s followed the Nationwide Series in 2008 would expect. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas were untouchable. Cup regulars dominated the finishing order, taking six of the top-eight finishing positions. And Kyle Busch led early and often, leading 174 of 200 laps to score his 10th win of the Nationwide season. He’s fast become the Florida State of NASCAR, beating up on the lower ranks in much the same way the Seminoles opened the college football season with back-to-back games against I-AA teams.
On lap 29, a handful of drivers came in for fresh tires and adjustments at Memphis… and it turns out that made all the difference. A caution on lap 126 after over 90 laps of green flag racing left less than 10 cars on the lead lap, including Carl Edwards, whose No. 60 Ford was the class of the field. Edwards was never seriously challenged for the lead throughout the rest of the race despite multiple late-race cautions, and made coming from the back of the pack look easy, scoring a relatively easy victory. Defending race winner David Reutimann got his No. 99 Toyota to second with a few laps to go, but he refused to use the bump and run to move Edwards out of the way, a decision Reutimann later questioned himself for making.
Joey Logano made a strong bid early, but Kyle Busch again dominated the Nationwide Series field, leading 137 laps to score a relatively easy win in Friday’s Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Busch was briefly challenged in the race’s final laps by Jeff Burton, who, unlike the other leaders, opted for four tires on his final pit stop. Burton, however, was unable to make up enough ground on the high side to clear Busch’s No. 18.
For the first half of the race, it looked as if the Nationwide Series may have a different storyline to follow, as Kevin Harvick led 88 of the first 93 laps and appeared to be poised to score his first career series win in his own equipment. However, a lengthy pit stop to change a defective battery took Harvick out of the running, and the race became another Joe Gibbs Racing romp after that. Denny Hamlin, driving the No. 18 predominantly occupied by Kyle Busch this season, looked just like his teammate behind the wheel, leading the last 43 laps (99 total) and handily winning the 300-mile race at Kansas. Hamlin’s triumph also allowed Toyota to capture the Nationwide manufacturers’ title well over a month prior to season’s end.
For the 23rd time this season, a Sprint Cup driver proved that they had the awe-inspiring mettle to dominate NASCAR’s AAA series. For the eighth time this season, Kyle Busch proved to race fans that he is indeed deserving of a full-time ride in the Cup ranks, because he’s such a darned good Nationwide Series driver. And for the second time in the four races since Joe Gibbs Racing was “penalized” for its involvement in a cheating scandal at Michigan, its No. 18 team and their “substitute” crew chief dominated the field. Though several drivers had excellent race cars, Mike Bliss’ car took too long into a run, while Brad Keselowski had repeated issues on pit road that lost him valuable track position, allowing neither to challenge Busch, who led 157 laps.
The Nationwide Series took to a short track for the second time in three weeks and, also for the second time in three weeks, Clint Bowyer dominated the race. And nonetheless, for the second time in three weeks, Bowyer failed to score the win. Despite leading 195 of the 250 laps run, Bowyer’s car went to the loose side late in the running, allowing fellow title contender Carl Edwards to sneak by late and score his fourth Nationwide victory of the season. Bowyer finished third, after he was passed by Scott Wimmer with less than 15 laps to go.
Kyle Busch won the pole for this race and led every lap, sans the few he fell behind during a cycle of green-flag pit stops. By the end of the race, Busch had led 144 of 150 laps and went virtually unchallenged, scoring an easy seventh victory of the Nationwide Series season for his No. 18 team. Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers also fielded strong entries throughout the night, though neither driver had anything remotely in the same ballpark as Busch.
Finishing off a charge to the front from his 37th starting spot, Brad Keselowski flew by Clint Bowyer and led the remainder of the Food City 250, scoring his second Nationwide Series win of the season and of his career.