As Kyle Busch climbed from his winning Z Line Designs Toyota after the Scotts EZ Seed 300 Nationwide race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night he had amassed a total of 569 laps leading NASCAR races in 2011. The driver with the second highest total, Carl Edwards, has led 68. It was also Busch’s 45th win from just 206 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, his fourth consecutive win in all catgories at Bristol following his clean sweep in August and his tenth victory at the track in all classes.
As if all that achievement wasn’t enough, on lap 265 Busch led his10,000th career lap, the first series driver to reach that target.
After Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and then Dale Earnhardt Jr. had led the first 31 laps Busch took over the lead and stayed there for all but one of the remaining 269 laps. Kasey Kahne, who led lap 184 under caution, was chasing down Busch in the final laps but was 0.524 seconds shy at the checkered flag. Earnhardt finished third with Elliott Sadler having a fine race to take fourth and become the highest placed point scoring driver. Only two other drivers in the top ten scored Nationwide Series points, Jason Leffler taking 36 for eighth place and finding himself for the first time in his career leading a championship table, and Aric Almirola getting 34 points for his tenth place.
Danica Patrick, who unusually for her took the precaution of coming to the track during the week before the race to have a look at Bristol and understand why it has its reputation, had hoped for nothing more than a top twenty finish for the final race before she returns to Indy Car duties for a few weeks. She was running in 17th place, albeit two laps down, on lap 248 when Ryan Truex wobbled just above her and knocked the GoDaddy Chevrolet into a spin and a hard hit against the outside wall.
Patrick was visibly angry and wouldn’t leave the trackside until she had a chance to gesture towards Truex as he passed but may have been pacified later when he freely admitted the accident was his fault but entirely unintentional.
Jennifer Jo Cobb in the no. 79 2nd Chance Motorsports Chevrolet never made it as far as the green flag at the start of the race. Considering herself under a five race contract to drive the car, and for which she decided to forego racing for points in the Camping World Truck Series, plus having bought the tyres for the race herself, Cobb was less than enthralled to be told by the team owner, Rick Russell, to start and then park it so the team had a good car to take to Fontana, California for next week’s race. When Cobb told Russell she was at Bristol to actually race the car the owner replied that he would ask officials to black-flag the car, something he is entitled to do. It had also been suggested to Cobb that she would be replaced at Fontana.
For Cobb starting and parking was never an option so with just a few short minutes in which to make a decision she got out of the car before the warm up laps.
Russell had chosen not to bring a pit crew to the race and was annoyed that Cobb and crew chief, Steve Kuykendall, had gathered up a crew of their own. For half of the race the car was altered to suit driver, Chris Lawson, who then drove four laps and brought the car back to the garage. $16,775 for just four laps was what they earned.
After the race Kuykendall tweeted that both he and Cobb had parted from 2nd Choice Motorsports. Cobb was unrepentant.
“After thinking about it for a few minutes, which there weren’t many, I made a decision to walk away,” Cobb said. “I thank God for giving me the strength to do that. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. I just felt like I owed it to my fans and my sponsors that I’m seeking and to NASCAR that if I say, ‘I’m here to race,’ that I go out and race.”
The full results and points table for this race and the NASCAR Nationwide Series can be viewed at www.nascar.com