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All Goods Things Must Come to an End

Lap 71 Accident Keeps Busch and Z-Line Designs Team from Record-Tying Fourth Straight NASCAR Nationwide Series Win

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch kept one streak alive as another ended in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Unfortunately for the driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the streak that continued was one of bad luck in Nationwide Series races at Talladega. Busch was collected in a massive multi-car accident on lap 71 that knocked him out of contention for his record-tying fourth straight series win and relegated him to a 16th-place finish.

Despite significant damage to the right front of Busch’s Toyota that resulted from his involvement in the 15-car pileup, the No. 18 team managed to make enough repairs to help Busch rally back, but he still finished three laps shy of the 117-lap race distance.

“The finish was disappointing,” said Busch, who was looking to tie the record Sam Ard set in 1983 with four straight wins, as Busch came into Talladega on a three-race win streak with victories at Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City. “You’ll have that stuff here at Talladega. The 20 (Tony Stewart) had a great car just like they did in Daytona and they won the thing. I’m still really proud of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Z-Line Designs for all the hard work they’ve put into the Nationwide Series program.”

Busch started eighth, but quickly dropped to the rear of the draft in the early part of the race as the team’s strategy was to stay out of any accidents, which are common at the 2.66-mile Talladega oval. But just after the halfway point, Busch and the Z-Line Designs team decided it was go time and moved up into the lead pack.

But little did Busch know that disaster was just around the corner, as the lapped car of Kevin Lepage attempted to blend into the front of the lead pack as he came off pit road, triggering the lap-71 melee that collected the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota.

It marked the third time in just five Nationwide Series starts at Talladega that the 22-year old Busch has been involved in an accident.

As disappointing as the result was, the 16th-place finish helped the No. 18 team climb one spot to 31st in owner points. The No. 18 team is running a limited Nationwide Series schedule in 2008, and Talladega marked the team’s fifth race of the season. Busch remains third in the driver point standings, just 39 markers behind series leader Clint Bowyer.

Stewart, Busch’s JGR teammate, won the Aaron’s 312 to score his fifth career Nationwide Series victory, his third of the season and first win of any kind at Talladega.

There were eight caution periods for 27 laps, with 20 drivers failing to finish the 312-mile race.

Following Stewart in second was David Stremme, while Bobby Hamilton Jr., Jason Leffler and Mark Green secured the rest of the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Bliss, Patrick Carpentier, Scott Wimmer and Mike Wallace comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the May 2 Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

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