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Two In The Hand for Busch at TMS

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 7 2009
Kyle Busch should be getting pretty good at catching checkered flags tossed to him from the flagstand. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch should be getting pretty good at catching checkered flags tossed to him from the flagstand. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Fort Worth, Texas – Kyle Busch took another bow at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon. And on Sunday, he might just thumb his nose at the NASCAR record book.

Busch followed up his win in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series Friday night with another Victory Lane visit after dominating the O’Reilly Challenge Nationwide Series event in signature kick-ass fashion. Busch’s record-setting fourth consecutive NNS victory on the 1.5-mile quadoval pushed him closer to his first NASCAR touring series championship – and another bit of history.

With a victory in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Dickies 500, Busch would become the first driver to record a weekend sweep in NASCAR’s top three touring series.

As in…badda-bing, badda-bang, badda-Busch!

“Sorry I won again, but we’re going to do it again tomorrow,” Busch joked post-race, messing with the fans who greeted the latest edition of “The Kyle Busch Show” with a mixed bag of cheers and boos. “I hope it happens. I mean, I think that would be the greatest thing. It’d be so cool. It’s never been done before and (he has) come close a couple of times. But the hardest one is always the last one, and of course it’s the biggest, hardest show to win on Sunday. We’ve got some work to do. It’s Dave’s first day on the job; if he wins on his first day on the job, he’s going to think it’s easy. If we can (win), we will.”

Busch was referring to new Cup crew chief Dave Rogers, who is replacing Steve Addington on the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. Jason Ratcliff, crew chief on Busch’s No. 18 Z-Line Design Toyota, prepped the Nationwide-spec Camry that led 179 of 200 laps here en route to a margin of victory of 3.154-seconds over Casey Mears. Jason Leffler finished third, followed by pole-sitter Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski.

Typical with most things Busch, the victory came wrapped with a rejoinder. Kerry Tharp, NASCAR’s director of communications/competition, announced that post-race inspection of the winning car revealed an “improperly secured weight.” Tharp said Busch and Ratcliff likely would be penalized points by the sanctioning body next week. So, Busch’s current 272-point advantage over Carl Edwards is best classified as provisional, albeit secure, heading into Phoenix International Raceway next weekend for the Able Body Labor 200. Prior to the post-race announcement, Busch could have clinched the title with a finish of 15th or better at PIR.

Busch’s fourth consecutive Nationwide victory at TMS moved him into a series tie with Kevin Harvick, a two-time champion. Busch also became the second driver to win four consecutive races at TMS. Brendan Gaughan, like Busch a native of Las Vegas, accomplished that feat in the Truck Series during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

In the last four Nationwide races at TMS, Busch has led a staggering 657 of 800 laps.

“Pretty awesome,” said Busch, 24, who won from the sixth starting spot. “We love coming out to Texas.  This is for some reason one of my best racetracks.  I seem to really like getting around here.  This car was flawless again today.  We’ve had cars that have been flawless like this for the past four races here.  This is a testament to this team.  They do such an awesome job preparing these cars with all the extra hours at the shop and all the guys that do a great job.”

Ratcliff noted that this was a new Camry….as the car in which “Rowdy” had won the previous two events here was wrecked at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

“We just went off our notes from what we had here in the past and it worked,” Ratcliff said. “In practice we were pretty good off the truck and we found a couple things there late in the practice that just took us to the next level.  Like Kyle said, all day the car was pretty good.  We made some changes there that I think made it a little bit better.  Of course, the competition was getting better all race long and we were able to maintain about a tenth, two-tenths (advantage).  Another good day for us in Texas.  It’s a fun place to win.”

Busch’s victory Saturday was his eighth this season in NNS and the 29th of his career in 171 starts. He has 10 Truck Series wins this year, including a current streak of five in a row, and one in Cup for 19 overall.

“I wish we could have gotten a couple more Cup wins,” said Busch, who failed to qualify for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. “I felt like there was some opportunity for those.  It didn’t work out.  It’s been a great year for myself in all three series.  I’ve run the best I’ve ever run in the Truck Series and have had good (Toyota Tundra) trucks every week.  Jason and these guys have done a good job with our Nationwide cars every week to come unload like that.

“Our Cup program has struggled a little bit, but unfortunately sometimes that happens. It’s disappointing, but on the other side of things, I think it was actually a little bit of a good thing that I was able to put more focus towards the Nationwide deal and get the championship wrapped up over here and not have to worry about both of them.  Now the Nationwide deal is done with and we can go back to focusing more on the Cup effort there and try to get ourselves to championship caliber on that side. Somebody has to beat that No. 48.” That was a reference to Jimmie Johnson, who is closing in on an unprecedented fourth consecutive Cup title for Chevrolet  and Hendrick Motorsports – Busch’s former employer.

Points-penalty aside, Busch was asked to reflect on his impending NNS title and his mounting records.

“The cool thing about it is I don’t look for the records,” said Busch, who has logged nine top-10 finishes in 10 Nationwide races at TMS.  “I kind of search around and look for some other things, to sort of impress myself.  You know what would be impressive is if those 11 second-place finishes (in NNS) were wins _ that would be 19 wins.  That’s what’s stupid. That’s what’s silly. If that could have been.

“The only thing worse than finishing second on a day is when you finish second and something to a pregnant woman, and then you’re third.  That’s what sucks.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 7 2009
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