In August Kyle Busch became the first driver to win all three major races, the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races, in one weekend. This weekend at Homestead-Miami he has already won the Truck and Nationwide races. Can he do the treble again?
On Friday evening Busch pulled away from Ron Hornaday at a restart four laps from the end of the Truck race to win by just over half a second for his eighth win this season and 24th career win in the class.
More importantly for Busch it also gave him the owners’ championship in his first year as an owner.
It hadn’t been plain sailing for Busch; his #18 Toyota was squeezed into the wall by Johnny Sauter thirty-two laps before the end and shortly after his front right tyre blew. Busch restarted in 21st place and was helped when one red flag – caused by a truck slamming into the sand barrels protecting the pit entrance – and a late yellow brought him into second place for the restart.
Despite Hornaday’s best efforts to hold back Busch at the final restart the latter was not going to be denied laying the foundation for another attempt at the treble.
On Saturday night the Nationwide Series race was more or less all about Busch and Kevin Harvick who between them led most of the race, Busch getting the five extra points for most laps led, a total of 153 out of 200. Harvick came home in second followed by Brad Keselowski, rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
Stenhouse Jr’s fourth place was enough to earn him the Rookie of the Year award, a deserving result for a driver who overcame a 35 point deficit to take the title.
Danica Patrick had her best qualifying session yet in NASCAR, starting in fifth place ahead of several Sprint Cup drivers, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards to name two. She dropped back a few places deliberately at the start to learn as much as possible from the more experienced drivers, was the first to pit on a green flag lap and then stayed out when the first caution period was called enabling her to lead her first laps as a NASCAR driver.
On the restart, however, she dropped down the field like a stone, barely staying in the top ten by the end of the first lap and quickly dropped back to twentieth place or thereabouts where she remained for most of the race, eventually finishing a frustrated and annoyed 19th.
Busch believes he has a good car for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race having spent a lot of Saturday’s practice changing a lot of settings. Of racing during the day Busch said, “I always feel like I do better at night than I do in the daytime, so with the daytime race tomorrow it’ll be a little hectic. We have to work as hard as we can to try to win the race, first of all. Secondly, we’ll work towards trying to make sure we do everything we can to get Denny Hamlin a championship.”
Of the title protagonists Hamlin has given himself it all to do starting in a lowly 37th place. Harvick is in 28th which is a typical place for him after qualifying these past ten races. These two are going to have to race through the field and must stay clear of any trouble as they attempt to catch – and pass – Jimmie Johnson who starts from sixth place.
Although all three title hopefuls can expect support from their teammates every other driver in the field will be keen to win irrespective of this being a championship deciding race but for Hamlin, Johnson, Harvick and now Busch there is a lot depending on being first past the checkered flag tonight.