2011-03-24 / Sports

Kyle Busch Sweeps Bristol

By Gerald Hodges
THE RACING REPORTER

BRISTOL, Tenn. – It was all Kyle Busch this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. First, he won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, then on Sunday, he held off Carl Edwards, the polesitter, to win the 500-lap Sprint Cup race.

“It was a hard race,” said Busch. “Carl kept the pressure on me. I made a couple mistakes. I just had to be patient. The guys really got me out in front on that last pit stop.

“My car was better on the long runs, so I knew the longer I could hold Carl off, the better my chances of winning would be.”

Edwards, who won two weeks ago at Las Vegas, passed Busch with about 15- laps remaining, but Busch regained the lead on the next lap.

“I really thought that once I got by him, I could stay ahead of him,” said Edwards. “But I found out his car was a little better at the end.”

Jimmie Johnson finished third, Matt Kenseth was fourth and Paul Menard was fifth.

“I had a really fast race car today,” said Richard Childress driver Paul Menard. “The cars they have been giving me have been great. We’ve been to four race tracks and had good runs at all of them.”

Kevin Harvick finished sixth, despite being booted from behind by Mark Martin, with a big wreck ensuing. Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman were the remaining top-10 finishers.

The wreck that took out Harvick also claimed Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer and Juan Montoya.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th and moved up to ninth in points.

Jeff Gordon never led a lap and finished 14th.

Tony Stewart’s team never got the handle on his car. He was 19th.

Top-12 Chase leaders after 4 of 36: 1. Kurt Busch- 150, 2. Edwards-149, 3. Stewart 138, 4. Newman-138, 5. Menard-136, 6. Kyle Busch- 133, 7. Johnson-130, 8. Montoya 126, 9. Earnhardt-124, 10. Truex-123, 11. Martin-123, 12. Kahne-122

Kyle Busch reaches milestone

Kyle Busch hit another milestone in the Nationwide Series on the way to his Saturday’s win at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The victory was Busch’s second of the year and the 45th of his career, leaving him four behind Mark Martin (idle Saturday) for the career lead.

Even more impressive was that he led his 10,000th lap in the series. No one else is close.

“Anytime you’re able to break any kind of series record with the likes of Sam Ard and all the guys who made this series what it is, it’s big,” Busch said. “Kevin Harvick in his heyday was really good, and that was just a couple years ago.”

“Of course, Mark Martin in his time, and all the guys – (Larry) Pearson and (Tommy) Houston and all those boys. It’s cool and I enjoy it. There’s still plenty more time, hopefully, to make some more records.”

Kasey Kahne finished second, .524 seconds behind Busch, followed by two-time series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott Sadler – the higheset-finishing driver championship contender – and Joey Logano. Danica Patrick finished 33rd after wrecking late in her Bristol debut.

On Lap 248 Danica Patrick’s Chevrolet tangled with the Toyota of Ryan Truex, spun and slammed nose-first into the Turn 1 wall. Patrick, who was running two laps down in 17th at the time, thought Truex moved off the frontstretch wall into her racing line.

“It felt like to me that I came out of the corner, and I was running down the straight, and I felt like he came off the wall. ... I know I was running him early, and he just runs hard. He’s run hard every time I’ve been around him, and it just seems like overkill.”

Top-10 leaders after 4 of 34: 1. Leffler-142, 2. Stenhouse 140, 3. Allgaier-124, 4. Sorenson-121, 5. Almirola- 119, 6. Bayne-112, 7. K. Wallace 111, 8. Sadler-110, 9. Patrick-109, 10. Scott-107

Commentary

Like most of you, I have watched in awe at the incredible images of the massive destruction in Japan. Those images have left me feeling weak and hurting.

I visited Japan three times when NASCAR went over to race in 1996, ’97 and ’98.

The Japanese seemed like they were always in a hurry, but they were gracious, kind and enjoyed being around the race car teams.

The first two races were held in Suzuka City, about an hour’s plane ride south of Tokyo. In 1996, I had arranged to take a tour bus ride from my hotel to Kyoto. Also taking the tour were Mike Skinner, Ernie Irvan, and several Richard Childress employees.

Japan was not like I expected. Instead of the massive factories, our bus passed mostly small shops and businesses. There were no large tractor-trailer rigs like we have in the U.S. Instead there were hundreds of smaller trucks. I was told by our guide that most of the smaller businesses operated with just a four-hour inventory. If a truck didn’t arrive on time, they would have to shut down.

When the bus stopped at one marketplace and temple, we were surrounded by perhaps a hundred teenage school children, mostly girls. They wanted to communicate with us, and asked for autographs. Our bilingual guide explained things about NASCAR racing to them, and they would ooh and aah when they heard those new things. After getting an autograph, they would bow, and give thanks in Japanese

They were on a tour of the local shrine and temple, but the guide said they wanted to know more about the Americans. The shrine they were to visit wasn’t as interesting as learning new things from the Americans. Perhaps the most questions were about American cowboys and Indians.

Of course traffic drove on the opposite side of the road, and would have been difficult for an American to adjust to. The buses and taxicabs were very clean. The bus driver was always a man with white gloves on. Assisting him would be a young lady that spoke fairly good English. All the driver did was handle the bus. His female assistant did all the work, including loading and unloading the luggage. Can you imagine a 90-pound woman wrestling with an American’s large suitcase?

Once in a restaurant, I attempted to find out what kind of relish was used on some meat I had ordered. The little waitress couldn’t understand a word I was saying, but after being gone for a few minutes, she came marching back into the dining room, holding a large, fresh, white radish, it had been made from. What a pleasant surprise.

That’s the way it was on my three trips. I found everyone to be friendly and wanting to please.

I guess it’s harder to accept terrible events when they happen to someone you like and respect, than when the same thing happens to people that do not concern you.

At any rate, I’ve prayed for the Japanese. I hope the ones I came in contact with during my visits have survived, and can somehow come through this thing fate has dealt them.

Weekend racing: It’s on to Fontana, Calif., this weekend for the Cup and Nationwide teams. The Truck series is off until April 2.

Sat., Mar. 26, Nationwide Series race 5 of 34, Starting time: 5:30 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Sun., Mar. 27, Sprint Cup Auto Club 500, race 5 of 36, Starting time: 2 p.m.; TV: Fox.

Racing trivia question: Who is the actual car owner of Jimmy Johnson’s No. 48?

Last week’s question: In addition to his NASCAR racing teams, Joe Gibbs has also coached two NFL teams. Who are these two teams? Answer. The Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodges@race500.com

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