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Kyle Busch ‘Steals’ A Nationwide Victory

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 26 2011

Kyle Busch pays another visit to another NASCAR Victory Lane. Saturday's visit came at Auto Club Speedway. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kyle Busch said he did not win Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. He said that his crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, did.

And truth be told, Busch had a great point.

On Ratcliff’s orders, Busch took just two tires on his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota during a green flag pit stop with 13 laps to go in the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway. That put Busch, who admittedly did not have the fastest car in the race, in the lead.

And from there, he held off the quicker, charging cars of Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick to get the victory.

“We stole this one,” Busch said afterward. “It wasn’t ours.  We were a third, fourth-place car – fourth-place on the shorter runs and a third-place car on the long runs.

The victory was the second straight in NNS for Busch as he won at Bristol last weekend. It was his third NASCAR victory in a row as he also won the Sprint Cup race at Bristol. On Sunday, he will go for a second-straight weekend sweep.

In order to get Saturday’s victory, he had to survive a final-lap brush with the wall.

“I got loose,” he said. “I got into the fence a bit. Good thing there wasn’t one more lap.”

Edwards, who took four tires when he pitted with 19 laps to go, finished second, .7 seconds back. He had started from the pole and led 48 laps.

“I just didn’t expect that,” Edwards said of Ratcliff’s decision to opt for two tires. “I didn’t think it was an option.”

Kevin Harvick, who had the lead when the final series of pit stops started but also opted four four tires

Carl Edwards started Saturday's Nationwide race from the pole. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

when he pitted with 17 laps to go, finished third, 1 second behind Busch.

Harvick led a race best 64 laps.

Busch said the two guys who finished behind him probably deserved to win.

“The 33 (Harvick) and 60 (Edwards) were gone,” Busch said.

Ratcliff explained his decision to take just two tires.

“It was a good opportunity for us,” he said. “We weren’t going to win it by taking four tires.  I’m really surprised that we were the only ones to do the right side (tires) like that.  We were waiting too many laps where it wasn’t going to work, but we had to wait and see what the 60 (Carl Edwards) and 33 (Kevin Harvick) were going to do.  The 60 pitted early and took four and the 33, I wasn’t real sure what they were going to do.  If they would have taken two, then we would have just put four on and hope for a caution late in the race.  It worked out.”

Ricky Stenhouse, Edwards’ Roush Fenway Racing teammate finished fourth. His finish moved him to the points lead.

Elliott Sadler, driving a car owned by Kevin Harvick Inc., finished fifth.

Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne finished sixth and Joey Logano was seventh.

Rounding out the top 10 were Mark Martin, Aric Almirola and defending series champion Brad Keselowski.

Jennifer Jo Cobb, who caused a stir last week when, five minutes before the race in Bristol, told her team owner she would not get in the car, spun and crashed on lap 18. She finished 38, 112 laps off the pace.

Cobb refused to start the race because, she said, she was not told her effort at Bristol would be start-and-park until 10 minutes before the race. Her team owner, Rick Russell, said that was not true.

The controversy helped Cobb land a ride for this weekend’s race with Rick Ware Racing.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 26 2011
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