DOVER, Del. – By Seth Livingstone, NASCAR Wire Service — Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images photo — Kyle Busch’s dominant weekend at the Monster Mile continued on Saturday.
Hours after leading 150 laps to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Busch led the final 124 to capture Saturday’s Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket in the Nationwide Series.
Already the only driver to win all three NASCAR national series events in a single weekend, Busch will attempt to duplicate the feat he accomplished in August 2010 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch starts alongside pole-sitter Brad Keselowski in Sunday’s Sprint cup race, the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks.
“Our (Sprint Cup) car has been really fast here,” said Busch after climbing from the driver’s seat in victory lane. “We unloaded fast. I think we’ll be all right tomorrow. Our guys gave me a great piece (to drive) today.”
With a record 66 victories in the Nationwide Series, 39 in the truck series and 29 in Sprint Cup, Busch has taken 134 checkered flags at NASCAR’s elite levels. He says his weekend sweep at Bristol remains the pinnacle of his accomplishments to date.
“I’ve won the Southern 500 at Darlington, but I don’t have a Daytona 500. I don’t have a Coke 600, no All-Star race, no (win at the) Brickyard, so essentially, I got nothing,” Busch said, tongue-in-cheek. “Hopefully, someday, the big ones come. We’ll keep working toward all that.
“But the Bristol sweep ranks right up there. I’d say one here would rank right up there, too. The magnitude of stress put on your body, your car and your equipment due to this race track is high up there.”
Busch’s dominance on Saturday foiled Joey Logano’s attempt to win a record-tying fifth consecutive Nationwide race at Dover International Speedway.
“Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end,” said Logano, who finished third. “It was kind of frustrating out there today. I felt like we had the winning car, but we were too loose that last run and couldn’t pass anyone. We never really had good enough restarts on the inside.”
To prevail, Busch had to survive three restarts with the lead. He also needed to fend off the challenge of Trevor Bayne, whose AdvoCare Ford stalked his Monster Energy Toyota for the final 35 laps, pulling to within three-tenths of a second with 15 laps to go as both drivers wound their way through lapped traffic.
“With 20 to go, I started making some pretty good gains on him,” said Bayne, who this week picked up a full-time Sprint Cup ride beginning in 2015. “His car was really loose and if he missed it a little bit it would wiggle up the race track. That’s what allowed me to catch him as much as I did.
“I thought I was going to be able to get to him and make a move. But he got through lap traffic a little bit better than I did and that separated us a little bit. He said he was giving it everything he had when I talked to him in victory lane. I said, ‘I promise you, that was all I had to try to catch you.'”
Busch never doubted that.
“At the end the 6 (Bayne) certainly gave us a run for the money and closed in on us when we got in to a little traffic,” he said.
Despite the hard racing, the order of the first six finishers remained unchanged throughout the final 35 laps as the race remained green for the final 42 miles. Matt Kenseth, rookie Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson finished fourth, fifth and sixth. It was Kenseth’s eighth consecutive top-10 Nationwide finish without a win this season.
Regan Smith retained his series points lead despite his struggles at Dover. Smith, who finished 10th, has never been better than ninth in a combined 19 Cup Series and Nationwide starts at the Monster Mile.
Elliott Sadler finished ninth on Saturday, gaining one point to remain four points back. Chase Elliott, who has won twice this season, is 22 points behind Smith.