2011-05-05 / Sports

Kyle Busch Wins on Fuel Mileage

By Gerald Hodges

Kyle Busch Kyle Busch RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Busch beat his teammate Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.805 seconds as both drivers conserved fuel during an 86-lap green-flag run to the finish, Saturday night. Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond, with Hamlin winning the last two fall races.

“We were late to the celebration,” Busch said after his car was pushed to victory lane. “This is pretty awesome. We had a really good car, and we knew that if we could play through traffic a little bit better than the 11 (Hamlin) that we had a shot at the win, and we did that tonight.”

“I learned from Denny Hamlin last fall – and I’m not going to say what I learned, but he might know. We did a good job of doing what we needed to do early in the run, and once we got out ( in front) and had to go through traffic, the traffic kind of fell our way, so we were able to pick our way through there.”

Both drivers were conserving fuel near the end, but they had enough of a lead over Kasey Kahne, who finished third, that they could maintain an even pace without fear of losing their positions on the track.

“ Yeah, I opened my mouth – I never should have told him,” Hamlin said, though he, too, declined to reveal the secret he had shared with his teammate. “That’s the thing. If I don’t tell him the things I know on short tracks, and the crew chiefs don’t relay information, then it’s not a good team.”

Kahne has had surgery on one of his knees, and it was still bothering him last week during practice.

“My knee feels fine,” said Kahne. “It’s actually a little bit tight, you know, a bit swelled up maybe. But other than that, it feels fine. I never thought about it once throughout the race. So it was more about the car. So if you’re not thinking about it, it’s obviously not hurting.”

David Ragan finished fourth, followed by series points leader Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Brian Vickers.

Jeff Gordon was out of the race after his Chevrolet slammed into the inside wall on Lap 300, causing him to finish 39th.

Edwards increased his lead in the Cup standings to nine points over Johnson. Busch gained three spots to third, 30 behind Edwards. Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman were involved in a succession of incidents, with Montoya retaliating against Newman on Lap 237. NASCAR warned both drivers. A late pit stop for fuel cost Dale Earnhardt Jr. a lead-lap finish. He came home 19th, two laps down, and fell one position to fourth in points, 34 behind Edwards.

Top-12 Chase leaders after 9 of 36: 1. Edwards-335, 2. Johnson-326, 3. Kyle Busch- 305, 4. Earnhardt-301, 5. Harvick 300, 6. Kurt Busch-289, 7. Bowyer-284, 8. Newman-277, 9. Kenseth-276, 10. Stewart- 275, 11. Allmendinger-263, 12. Montoya-262

Hamlin dominates Nationwide race

With a dominant car that led 199 laps Friday night, Denny Hamlin won the Nationwide Series race when the third caution of the race slowed the action after Hamlin had taken the white flag to start Lap 251.

With seven laps left, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran out of gas while running second to bring out the second caution of the evening. That enabled Hamlin to pit for fuel and tires. It also set up a two-lap sprint to the finish that took the race one lap past its posted distance.

Paul Menard finished second, followed by series points leader Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler and Brad Keselowski. Those were the only cars scored on the lead lap.

Josh Wise, Sam Hornish, Ryan Truex, David Stremme, and Jason Leffler rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Top-10 leaders after 9 of 34: 1. Allgaier-305, 2. Sadler- 299, 3. Almirola-297, 4. Leffler 295, 5. Sorenson-292, 6. Stenhouse-288, 7. Bayne-260, 8. Scott-257, 9. K. Wallace- 246, 10. Wise-215

Stewart loves Richmond

Despite finishing ninth this past weekend, Tony Stewart said Richmond is still his favorite track. He has three Sprint Cup wins and two Truck Series victories at Richmond.

“We couldn’t make our car turn for anything. I mean, we have a lot of work to do right now,” said Stewart. “We just never got it right. But Richmond is my favorite track. It’s not one of them, it’s the favorite track of mine on the circuit. I’ve just always thought it’s the perfect-sized track for a Cup race. The other short tracks we run – Bristol and Martinsville – they’re cool in their own right, but there’s a lot of congestion at those two tracks.

“It just reminds me of some of the shorter tracks that I’ve run. It has kind of the same feel that threequarter mile tracks did with some of the other cars I’ve run with. It was a place where I became very comfortable right away.”

“I had that same feeling when I went to Richmond for the first time. I think every driver has a track they go to where they get that same feeling. There are just some places you go to where you adjust, and it really suits your driving style.”

“I’d really like to see another small track built. Everybody that wants to build a mile-and-a-half track are the ones we look at and wonder why they’re doing that, especially when Richmond is as good a race as it is, and Martinsville and Bristol are as good as they are.”

“You have three of the best tracks on the circuit, but everybody wants to build a mile-and-a-half track and put grandstands down the front of it and not put as many seats as you can around places like Richmond,

Martinsville or Bristol. You can get just as many people around a smaller track and have more room to park them and everything else. I’m all for it. I’m sick of seeing guys build mile-and-ahalf tri-ovals. Be creative, be unique. Build something that is your own. Don’t copy somebody else’s track.”

Weekend racing: The Sprint and Nationwide teams are at Darlington with Friday and Saturday night races. The Truck teams do not race again until May 20.

Friday, May 6, Nationwide Series, race 10 of 34, Starting time: 7: 30 p. m.; TV: ESPN.

Satruday, May 7, Sprint Cup Southern 500, race 10 of 36, Starting time: 7:30 p.m.; TV: FOX.

Racing trivia question: Who is the driver of Kevin Harvick’s No. 2 Nationwide car?

Last week’s question: When does Mark Martin plan on retiring? Answer. He has not announced any retirement goals. His contract with Hendrick Motorsports expires at the end of 2011, but Martin said he plans to race in 2012.

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

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