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Kyle Busch's Kentucky Run Was Good While it Lasted

Busch Rallies No. 18 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota from the Back to Lead a Race-High 85 Laps Before Crashing at Kentucky

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch’s bid for his fifth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season came to an abrupt end 37 laps from the finish of Saturday night’s Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Busch spun his No. 18 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota into the SAFER barrier along the outside retaining wall in turn two as he tried to regain the lead from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate and eventual race winner Joey Logano.

Busch, who just hours earlier had competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, arrived at Kentucky Speedway just as substitute driver Jeremy Clements was making a solid qualifying run that put the Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota seventh on the grid for the 200-lap event around the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval.

Even though the No. 18 car was sent to the back at the start due to the driver change between qualifying and the race, Busch made quick and steady work in his march to the front. He was 25th by the end of the opening lap, in the top-20 by lap seven, in the top-10 by lap 22, and in the lead by lap 40, when he slipped past then race leader Jason Keller.

Busch stayed up front until pitting for the first time under green on lap 54, relinquishing the lead to teammate Logano, but was back in the lead for the second of four times on the night by lap 85, when he got by Scott Wimmer. Busch led a race-high 85 laps in all, but gave it up for good to a determined Logano, who passed Busch on the backstretch 53 laps from the finish. On lap 163, in hot pursuit of Logano, Busch spun and made heavy contact with the outside wall. He was unhurt, but the Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota was done for the night.

“It was pretty devastating, pretty frustrating,” said Busch, who scored consecutive Nationwide Series victories in JGR Toyotas at Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City during the month of April. “All these guys hate it, and I hate it for them. It was tough luck, I guess. I think we had a car that was capable of winning. I was behind Joey (Logano), seeing if we could pass him late, but I just lost it. It’s a testament to the guys. They gave me a great car all night. It was a little tight all night, but we made some adjustments on it, got it a little loose, a bit freed up. And then it started getting tight there and I was just riding along seeing if I could catch Joey if I could, and seeing how the race was going to play out.”

The 30th-place finish dropped Busch two places to fifth in the Nationwide Series driver standings. It moved the 18 car, which has run only a partial schedule so far this season, up one spot to 31st in the owner standings.

Logano’s victory in only his third career Nationwide Series start was a historic one. Just 21 days after his 18th birthday, he became the youngest winner in series history, surpassing Casey Atwood, who won the 1999 series event at The Milwaukee Mile at the age of 18 years, 10 months, nine days. Scott Wimmer, Mike Wallace, Brad Keselowski and Bryan Clauson secured the rest of the top-five. Marcos Ambrose, David Ragan, Mike Bliss, Clint Bowyer and Jason Keller comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the June 21 Camping World RV Rental 250 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning with its pre-race show at 8 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

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