NNS: Kurt Busch holds off Hamlin for first KBM victory

April 27, 2012 No Comments

Credit:Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR

All year, Kyle Busch and his Kyle Busch Motorsports Nationwide series team was not having the luck they might have expected to have. Tonight, even though Kyle wasn’t driving that luck finally found his team.

Even though he was being chased from behind, that luck turned tonight with Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota.

Even though Kyle had won several past races at Richmond International Raceway, including the last time the series raced here in the spring, it was Kurt Busch making his first start in the Nationwide Series at Richmond that had to hold off a hard charging Denny Hamlin somehow.

“Kurt ran us tough,” Kyle Busch said to ESPN reporters after the race. “Denny [Hamlin] ran us clean.”

Hamlin fell back early in the race when he missed his pit during an round of caution pit-stop. For the remaining part of the race he would have to carefully pick his way through the field to catch up to the leaders. With less than ten laps to go, Hamlin finally caught the leader, thanks to lapped cars.

“I wanted it to be fair,” Hamlin said to ESPN reporters after the race. “He won fair and square.”

That leader was Busch who had stayed near the lead all night. When Hamlin made his mistake, it was Busch that was able to challenge Kevin Harvick, who dominated the first half of the race, for the lead. When Harvick made his final pit-stop early Busch was finally able to make his move and take over the lead.

With three laps to go, Hamlin caught up to Busch and was trying to make his move to get around his Sprint Cup teammates brother. Hamlin tried to go low, but Busch stayed on the high line.

Under the white flag Hamlin stayed low and tried to hold onto a slight lead down the backstretch, but Busch was stayed tough on the outside. With the checkered flag waving, the two drivers started to bump into each other, Busch moved and was bumped into the wall,  by Hamlin, that caused Hamlin to get sideways and Busch, was able to drive his brother’s car to victory lane.

“It was an amazing run for us tonight,” Kurt Busch said to ESPN reporters in victory lane. “To get KBM it’s first win, this is unbelievable.”

Despite having three wins in the series, tonight’s win was not just the first win for Kyle Busch Motorsports, it was also the first win, in his first Nationwide series race at Richmond International Raceway for Kurt Busch.

“When you are driving for a guy named Busch you have got to be on it,” Kurt Busch said after the race. “I slipped up going into three coming to get the white flag.”

Busch said that he knew the outside line would have an advantage because of an International Race of Champions (IROC) race that he had driven in when he lost the race by trying to drive on the bottom.

Even though it was Busch and Hamlin who battled most of the night, Harvick appeared to have the car to beat for much of the first half of the race. Hamlin was able to lead the very first lap, but after that Harvick went on to lead the next 158 of the next 165 laps.

Kurt Busch was able to lead the second most laps including the last 29 to capture the win.

“We held off Denny, it’s great to race a guy like that where he was using his head and we could both rough up our cars a little,” Kurt Busch said after the race. “But still finish the race one-two.”

Of the stories tonight was the debut of second generation driver Ryan Blaney. Blaney, who is just 18 years old, driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing was able to finish seventh tonight, in his first career start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

Travis Pastrana also made his long-awaited NASCAR Nationwide debut, but a late speeding penalty hampered his finish. Pastrana finished 22nd tonight.

Rounding out the top five were Harvick in third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in fourth and Sam Hornish Jr. in fifth.

Elliott Sadler finished in sixth, but still holds onto the points lead by two over Stenhouse Jr.

Next week the Nationwide series will be at the 2.667 mile Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 312.

Race results:

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  5. Sam Hornish Jr.
  6. Elliott Sadler
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Michael Annett
  9. Austin Dillon
  10. Kasey Kahne
  11. Steve Wallace
  12. James Buescher
  13. Joe Nemechek
  14. Brian Scott
  15. Justin Allgaier
  16. Brad Keselowski
  17. Mike Bliss
  18. Joey Logano
  19. Cole Whitt
  20. Johanna Long
  21. Danica Patrick
  22. Travis Pastrana
  23. Casey Roderick
  24. Mike Wallace
  25. Tayler Malsam
  26. Timmy Hill
  27. Kevin Lepage
  28. T.J. Bell
  29. Tanner Berryhill
  30. Jason Bowles
  31. Eric McClure
  32. Matt Frahm
  33. Jeremy Clements
  34. Robert Richardson Jr.
  35. Erik Darnell
  36. Morgan Shepherd
  37. J.J. Yeley
  38. Josh Wise
  39. Blake Koch
  40. Scott Speed
  41. Mike Harmon
  42. Chase Miller
  43. Jeff Green
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