The Busch Series race at Memphis was more like a Friday night Demolition Derby than an event that originated from the number two stock car series in America. On a day when almost half of the race was run under the yellow flag, a total of 25 caution flags for 117 laps dominated the headlines, coming up one short of the all-time record for the series. The longest green-flag run of the entire race was 20 laps, from lap 20 through lap 40; the wreckfest made the race horrific to watch and caused several teams to use pit strategy to get to the front, as several teams found their fuel windows extended due to the slower average speed. In fact, all of the fits and starts allowed teams to run over half of the race on their final pit stops.
The Busch Series was once again the playground of the Buschwhackers. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards dueled at the front of the pack for much of the first two-thirds of the race. By lap 129, Clint Bowyer assumed the point. Biffle led one more lap on lap 139, but lost it to Jeff Burton, who led the remainder of the race to capture his 26th career Busch Series victory.
The Buschwhackers put on a heck of a show Saturday in the heart of America. The race started with Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards having a great duel for the lead for the first nine laps, then it became the Matt Kenseth show. Kenseth led the race from lap 10 through lap 34 and then was part of the group that swapped the lead throughout the middle of the race which included Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, and Brian Vickers. Vickers once again had trouble on pit road during a pit stop while the caution was displayed for oil on the track at lap 127 and was never able to fully recover. Kenseth resumed the lead on lap 146 and held it until lap 183. Kyle Busch overcame a pit road speeding penalty that sent him to the back of the longest line and caught back up to Kenseth, ultimately taking the lead on lap 184 and holding onto it for the rest of the race.
Ultimately, there were 13 cautions during the race, which made a run at the record number of cautions for the race and tied the highest total of cautions for the year. Greg Biffle led after the drop of the green flag, but only held the point for the first four laps, after that Hamlin dominated the race, leading 138 of the 200 laps. His only real challenge came late in the race when Martin Truex Jr. stayed out on a late race caution and tried to use track position to his advantage. Hamlin restarted sixth but quickly moved back to the front and assumed the lead for the final time on lap 186. Truex was able to hold onto second, Matt Kenseth finished an unassuming third, Mike Bliss had a strong effort to finish fourth and Reed Sorenson put in a workmanlike fifth-place run.
Leading a race-high 227 of 250 laps, Kyle Busch was up front early and often throughout the Emerson Radio 250 to score his second win of the season. Even when Derrike Cope’s blown engine brought out a red flag, green-white-checker finish to the race, the outcome was never in doubt. Getting exceptional restarts with the No. 5 Sta-Green Chevy all night long, Busch saved his best for last, pulling away with ease on lap 251 to win by 0.868 seconds over point leader Carl Edwards. Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, and Mike Bliss rounded out the top five finishers.
The new track surface was the focus of much pre-race hype at Bristol… and it lived up to every bit of it. All race long, cars were spread from the top to the bottom, with three-wide racing taking place more than we had ever seen before at the half-mile bullring. Jason Leffler led for the first 14 laps following the drop of the green flag, putting himself in position as the favorite while leading a race-high 81 laps on the day. At the end of the race, it was Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Leffler duking it out up front, putting on an amazing race for the lead. At one point, the three drivers went four-wide with a lapped car, leaving onlookers stunned and the crowd rocking in Thunder Valley.
With overnight temperatures in the 40s and the race time temperature in the mid 60s, Saturday’s weather wasn’t anything like what the teams had encountered in practice or qualifying. That left crew chiefs up and down pit road scrambling, looking for the proper setup to handle the new conditions. At the drop of the green, Greg Biffle led the pack into turn one, but Brian Vickers had the lead by the time the field got back around to the start/finish line. Matt Kenseth started 12th and was in the top five within five laps of the start of the race. Denny Hamlin moved to the front quickly, followed by Kenseth. They traded the lead of the race in the middle stages of the race, but after the final pit stop it was all Hamlin. Hamlin marched away from the field over the closing laps and had a nearly five-second lead by the time the checkered flag fell.
Kevin Harvick won his fifth race of the season Sunday, continuing a streak of four wins in his last five Busch Series starts by crossing the line first at Watkins Glen. Harvick played an aggressive fuel strategy and was able to stretch his fuel mileage over the last 43 laps of the race, using caution flags to stretch his tank and outlast other competitors. Harvick briefly came under pressure late in the race from Kurt Busch, but Busch’s brakes faded over the last 10 laps and he wasn’t able to mount a late-race charge, making it smooth sailing for the driver of the No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet.
Challenging. Compelling. Controversial. Through a wild and wacky 75 laps, Canada’s inaugural race for NASCAR’s Busch Series clearly didn’t disappoint. In the end, it took the smoke of not one, but two burnouts to clear to figure out the actual race winner. But in the end, all the action on the track couldn’t stop the momentum of another Nextel Cup familiar face – and Buschwhacker extraordinaire – pulling into Victory Lane for the fourth time this year.
The tight confines of O’Reilly Raceway Park made for an exciting short track shootout for the Busch Series on Saturday night. Aric Almirola ran away with the race early, leading 87 of the first 100 laps, but as the second half of the race unfolded, it was another Busch regular who found his way to Victory Lane. After Almirola faded with problems on pit road, Jason Leffler was able to run down and pass Greg Biffle with three laps to go, bringing Toyota their first ever victory in the Busch Series. Up until the final stages, Biffle had dominated the race’s second half, but Leffler’s team decided to put on tires with 50 laps to go, and the fresh rubber ultimately paid off in a mad dash back to the front for the No. 38.