Busch barely holds off Larson for Bristol Nationwide win
Bristol, TN (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch claimed his fifth Nationwide Series
win at Bristol Motor Speedway after beating rookie Kyle Larson to the finish
line by just inches in Saturday's Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300.
In what turned out to be an epic battle on the final lap, Larson, who made
only his fourth Nationwide start, nearly stole one from Busch, the series'
all-time race winner.
Larson chased down Busch for the lead in the closing laps and ran right behind
him heading into the final lap of this 300-lap race. As they came out of the
last turn, Busch went low while Larson moved up high in an attempt to pass for
While trying to squeeze through on the frontstretch, Larson's Chevrolet made
contact with the outside wall and then bumped into the side of Busch's Toyota.
Busch nipped Larson to the finish line by 0.023 seconds, making it the second
closest ending in a Nationwide race at this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval.
"I just did everything I could to try to protect the momentum," Busch said. "I
knew the 70 car (the lapped car of Brad Teague) was going to be slow off of
the top, so I figured maybe I would have enough off of the bottom to beat the
32 (Larson) to at least my quarter panel. I guess it all worked out. I don't
know how close it was, but maybe it was too close."
Busch led the most laps with 156. He took the lead for the final time after
passing Kevin Harvick with 64 laps to go.
Larson had not been a factor in this race until the last 50 laps. He gained on
leader Busch and second-place Harvick before the final caution came with 35
laps left. During the caution, Harvick gave up his position when opted to pit
for new tires while the other front runners remained on the track.
Larson ran in second for the final restart with 27 laps to go.
"I was pretty happy that Kyle (Busch) went to the bottom on the last corner,
because it was going to give me one more shot to get by him," Larson said. "I
kept the fenders on the car all day, but I had to use them up coming to the
finish line to try to beat Kyle."
Larson, who is driving the No. 32 car for Turner Scott Motorsports this year,
made headlines last month when he was caught up in a horrifying crash during
the final lap of the Nationwide season-opener at Daytona International
Speedway. He flipped around and sailed into the catch fence along the
frontstretch before coming back down on the track. Dozens of spectators in the
grandstands were injured from flying debris. Larson was not hurt during the
Larson finished 13th at both Daytona and Phoenix before placing 32nd at Las
Vegas, where he was involved in a late-race wreck.
"Battling Kyle Larson, a young kid like that, he's got a lot of talent," Busch
noted. "He's going to make a name for himself. Well obviously, he already has
made a name for himself. I think he's got a lot going for him."
In the August 2011 Nationwide event at Bristol, Busch beat his then Joe Gibbs
Racing teammate Joey Logano to the finish line by just 0.019 seconds.
"I don't like making them close, but it's more exciting for the fans," Busch
Busch extended his Nationwide record of career victories to 53. Two weeks ago
at Phoenix, he snapped his 18-month, 24-race winless streak in the series.
Busch also moved into a tie with Harvick for most Nationwide wins at Bristol.
Busch will also start on the pole for Sunday's 500-lap Sprint Cup Series race
at Bristol. On Friday, he broke a decade-old track qualifying record here with
a lap at 128.709 mph. Busch has won five Sprint Cup races at this track as
Brian Vickers, who is Busch's Nationwide teammate at JGR, finished third,
while Sam Hornish Jr., the current points leader and last weekend's race
winner at Las Vegas, took the fourth spot. Harvick was fifth.
Regan Smith, Chris Buescher, Justin Allgaier, the pole sitter, Parker
Kligerman and Brian Scott completed the top-10.
Elliott Sadler, who won at Bristol one year ago, suffered engine failure in
the early going and wound up finishing 36th. Sadler has finished second in the
Nationwide point standings the past two years.
"It's a tough deal," he said. "I really wanted to run the whole race here.
This puts us in a whole, but we have a lot of racing left to do this season."
Hornish holds a 22-point lead over Allgaier, as the series heads west again
next weekend to Fontana, Calif.
03/16 18:01:01 ET
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