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Busch Wins in Dominating Fashion at Chicagoland

Z-Line Designs Driver Leads Race-High 101 Laps to Notch Fifth Nationwide Series Win of Season

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/OfficeMax Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), dominated Friday night’s Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., by leading twice for a race-high 101 laps en route to his fifth series win of the season.

The win was the fourth of the season for the No. 18 team, and it was also the 13th win of the season for JGR, tying the Nationwide Series record for most wins by a single organization. The previous record was set last year by Richard Childress Racing (RCR) via drivers Kevin Harvick (six wins), Jeff Burton (five wins) and Clint Bowyer (two wins), who accomplished the feat driving the Nos. 21, 29 and 2 Nationwide Series entries. RCR’s record-setting 13th win came in the season’s 35th and final race at Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway with Burton in the No. 29.

JGR’s record-tying win came in just the 20th race of this year’s 35-race schedule.

“To be associated with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and all the folks here – Z-Line Designs and OfficeMax, for being on board tonight – it’s just unbelievable,” said Busch, who scored his 16th career Nationwide Series win with his triumph at Chicagoland. “I’ve got to thank the fans that were here tonight and saw a pretty good show. These Nationwide drivers drove smart tonight and they didn't have a caution in the final – I don’t know how many laps – but it was forever. Happy to be here and happy to be in victory lane again. This is awesome.”

Busch started the 200-lap affair in 10th and quickly moved up to fifth-place by just the ninth circuit around the 1.5-mile oval, where he stayed until first pit stop of the day on lap 54. The talented 23-year old continued to hang in and around the top-five until a caution brought him into the pits on lap 90, where crew chief Jason Ratcliff made an air pressure change and a track bar adjustment to fix a tight handling condition in the center of the corner. After a strong stop by the Z-Line Designs crew that helped Busch restart the race in third, the change appeared to be just what the doctor ordered, as Busch vaulted into the lead on lap 94 and never looked back.

“It was a good run for us,” said Busch, who became the third JGR driver to win for sponsor Z-Line Designs, as teammates Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin brought home wins earlier this season for the San-Ramon, Calif.-based maker of ready-to-assemble furniture. “In the beginning it wasn’t looking so great. We were fighting a tight race car and then we made some adjustments on it there. Jason (Ratcliff) made some good calls on some air pressures and track bar (adjustments). I don’t know if we did any wedge or anything, but there in the beginning we were kind of stuck around fourth-, fifth-, sixth-place. When we made those adjustments on the car there around lap 90, a little bit before halfway and did that pit stop, we really got the thing woken up. We took the lead and were able to hold it the rest of the way.”

JGR has now led 1,781 of 3,644 (48.8 percent) of the laps run in Nationwide Series competition this season, and has won 13 out of the 20 races contested so far this season with four different drivers – Busch, Stewart, Hamlin and 18-year-old phenom Joey Logano.

The win helped catapult Busch, who’s running a part-time Nationwide Series schedule, up two spots to fifth in the championship driver standings. And it moved the No. 18 car, which is also running a partial schedule this season, up four spots to 26th in the series’ owner standings.

There were three caution periods for 15 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the event.

Hamlin, driving for Braun Racing, finished 3.120 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up slot, while Brad Keselowski, Brian Vickers, and David Reutimann secured the rest of the top-five. Greg Biffle, Bowyer, Burton, Stewart and rookie Landon Cassill comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the July 19 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. The race starts at 9:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning with its pre-race show at 9 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

The No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota returns to action July 26 at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind., with Busch behind the wheel for the Kroger 200.

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