2011-07-14 / Sports

Kyle Busch 2 For 3 At Kentucky

By Gerald Hodges

Kyle Busch Kyle Busch SPARTA, Ken. – Kyle Busch won two of the three events over the weekend at Kentucky Speedway, including Saturday’s inaugural Sprint Cup race.

Though Busch started and ended the night in first and led 125 of the race’s 267 laps, it wasn’t quite as easy as it might sound.

“We stayed up front all the night, made it seem easy, but certainly it wasn’t,” Busch said. “There at the end, there were a couple of tense moments, but we prevailed.”

The race wasn’t settled until Busch kept Jimmie Johnson at bay on the last restart, clearing Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet off Turn 2. David Reutimann restated in the fourth spot but charged forward, passing Johnson just short of the finish line on the final lap.

“It was hit or miss the first part of the race,’ said Reutimann. “We would make it better, then make it worse. Every time we put four tires on, we couldn’t go anywhere, too tight. Either the track was changing or tightening up more or we weren’t changing enough, taking big enough swings on it.”

Johnson finished third and moved from sixth to fifth in points.

“ We decided to come down pit road and put two tires on it, which ended up being good, as few guys as we had on the lead lap,” said Johnson. “The car did not take off like it had before on two tires.”

“These tires seemed to kind of wake up after they get a heat cycle. So the last restart, the car took off a lot better. I was able to hang with the 18 outside of turns 1 and 2.”

“If I could have stayed inside of him, it would have been one heck of a finish to the end. He cleared me and went on.”

Ryan Newman played pit strategy perfectly and came home fourth, followed by Carl Edwards. Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew a left front tire exiting pit road and wound up 30th.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 18 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch- 624, 2. Edwards-620, 3. Harvick 614, 4. Kurt Busch-606, 5. Johnson-605, 6. Kenseth-602, 7. J. Gordon-552, 8. Earnhardt 548, 9. Newman-538, 10. Hamlin-530, 11. Stewart- 527, 12. Bowyer-514

Meanwhile, a traffic backup of epic proportions presented a gloomy side of what could have been a nice inaugural race.

Kentucky track owner Bruton Smith coined the phrase, “Get Lucky in Kentucky,” but not everyone that tried to attend Saturday night’s Cup race was lucky.

It was a traffic nightmare getting into and out of the track.

Some fans were turned away.

There was no place to park.

There were many posts on Twitter complaining about five- and six-hour traffic delays. Six hours to travel just 45 miles.

“It is really disappointing that we had such an issue with traffic tonight,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. “We would like to apologize to those fans. … It’s got to improve. We know they are going to pour a lot of hard work and effort to make the traffic situation a lot better.”

Kentucky Speedway officials did not immediately say if they would refund the thousands of advance tickets held by fans who were unable to make it into the race.

Keselowski wins on fuel

Saving fuel from the start of the final green-flag run, Brad Keselowski held off Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to win Friday night’s Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

In winning his first Nationwide race of the year and the 13th of his career, Keselowski beat runner-up Harvick to the finish line by 1.180 seconds. Busch rolled across the stripe 3.796 seconds behind the winner.

“I felt like we were pretty good the very first run,” Keselowski said. “You never know when you have a racewinning car, especially when it transfers from day into night. I certainly felt more comfortable once I got clean air, and I said something to (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) about it.”

“You get that clean air, and these cars are just phenomenal to drive, and mine was no exception. It was really, really fast.”

Kasey Kahne came home fourth, followed by polesitter Elliott Sadler, who took the series points lead from 17th-place finisher Reed Sorenson with his fifth-place run. Kenny Wallace, Michael Annett, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse, and Joey Logano were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Top-10 points leaders after 18 of 34: 1. Sadler-641, 2. Sorenson-637, 3. Stenhouse- 614, 4. Allgaier-598, 5. Leffler- 568, 6. Almirola-553, 7. K. Wallace 532, 8. S. Wallace-490, 9. Annett-483, 10. Scott-483

Kyle Busch is Kentucky truck winner

Starting from the rear after missing the drivers’ meeting and driver introductions didn’t deter Kyle Busch, who held off charging Parker Kligerman to win Thursday night’s Truck race at Kentucky Speedway.

Busch won his fifth race of the season and the 29th of his career in a green-white checkered-flag finish set up by a late caution. The win was his 98th national series victory in NASCAR racing, third most all-time.

“On the (last) restart, when Jason White was on my inside, I figured if I could just get another good restart where I didn’t spin my tires, I’d be all right,” Busch said. “Those guys spun their tires every time, and it kind of worked for us.

“It’s hard to not be the leader in those positions and not spin your tires. I know how they feel.”

Kligerman ran second, followed by Brendan Gaughan, Todd Bodine and Jason White.

Top-10 points leaders after 10 of 25; 1. Sauter-347, 2. Whitt-324, 3. Dillon-322, 4. Buescher-315, 5. Kligerman- 312, 6. Hornaday-310, 7. Peters 308, 8. Crafton-297, 9. Coulter-292, 10. Gaughan-287

Money hungry NASCAR moving 2012 nationwide race

NASCAR plans to move its Nationwide race from the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway track to the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a move that NASCAR President Mike Helton said was a way to make IMS a “motorsports destination weekend” with NASCAR’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Nationwide and Cup series events.

But by doing so, NASCAR eliminates some exciting racing at the track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park.

“We’re very disappointed with the decision,” said Lucas Oil Raceway general manager Wes Collier. “We feel that we’ve provided a great race for NASCAR and all of Central Indiana for 30 years. ... There wasn’t anything that NASCAR asked us to do that we haven’t tried to accommodate them or provide for them.”

“We’ve made some pretty large investments out here as far as the facility. We had all intentions of retaining this event for the future.”

The track has hosted Nationwide Series races since 1982, and Truck events since 1996.

The big Indy track has seen attendance dwindle for its annual Cup event weekend.

NASCAR’s estimated attendance at the 2010 Brickyard 400 was 140,000, compared with 180,000 in 2009, 240,000 in 2008 and 270,000 in 2007. The Indy 500 in May typically draws an estimated attendance of 250,000- 275,000.

This venue change by NASCAR’s is seen by many as a move to boost revenue for the organization, because racing on the big track has been awful boring the past few years.

Weekend racing: The Cup and Nationwide cars will be at the one-mile New Hampshire Speedway, while the Trucks race at the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

Sat., July 16, Nationwide New England 200, race 19 of 34, Starting time: 3:30 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Sat., July 16, Camping World Trucks Coca-Cola 200, race 11 of 24, starting time: 8 p.m.; TV: SPEED.

Sun., July 17, Sprint Cup Lenox Tools 301, race 19 of 36, starting time: 1 p.m.; TV: TNT.

Racing trivia question: What was the nickname of early racer Edward G. Roberts?

Last week’s question: How many NASCAR Cup championships did Bobby Allison win? Answer. He only has one championship and that came in 1983,

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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