Pit strategy pays off for Busch at California|
Fontana, CA (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch gambled with a two-tire change only
during a late-race pit stop and then overcame a last-lap encounter with the
wall to win Saturday's Royal Purple 300 Nationwide Series race at Auto Club
Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick dominated most of the race, as the two drivers
combined for 112 laps led in the 150-lap affair at the two-mile Southern
California track. But Busch took over the top position during a round of
green-flag pit stops with 17 laps remaining.
When Busch pitted from the lead with 14 laps to go, his pit crew, led by crew
chief Jason Ratcliff, put on two new tires, while the other leaders took four
new ones during their stops.
"I'm just thankful that we've got a team and a driver that is willing to take
some chances like that, and it was the only way of winning it," Ratcliff said.
The pit strategy gave Busch a sizeable lead in the closing laps.
"I was good with it, and I thought that was a great way to win the race,"
Busch held a near three-second advantage over second-place runner Edwards
just before he scraped the outside wall along the backstretch on the last lap.
"I just got loose, and I kept trying to run as high as I could get it since
there was some grip up there," he said. "I got up into the marbles too high
off of turn two and got my right rear too loose and ended up in the fence a
Edwards, the pole sitter, attempted to catch Busch during the final mile, but
came up 0.7 seconds short.
"We had a fast car, but they did a better job," Edwards said after his second-
place run. "They waited to see what we would do, and then they did the
Busch claimed his third Nationwide win of the season and the 46th of his
career, which puts him three victories away from tying record-holder Mark
Martin, who finished eighth in this race.
Busch continued Joe Gibbs Racing's dominance at California. Gibbs' teams have
now won seven consecutive Nationwide races here, which is the most victories
in a row by an owner at a currently scheduled track on the series.
Last weekend, Busch won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races at
Bristol. He'll try to win his fourth straight NASCAR national touring series
race in Sunday's 400-mile Sprint Cup race at California.
Harvick, who led the most laps with 64, finished third, while Edwards' Roush
Fenway Racing teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., took the fourth spot. Elliott
Sadler completed the top-five.
Stenhouse moved into the points lead. He holds a two-point advantage over
Jason Leffler, who finished 11th.
Trevor Bayne finished sixth, and Joey Logano was seventh. Aric Almirola and
last year's series champion Brad Keselowski completed the top-10.
03/26 21:15:56 ET