Busch Gets 100th, Sets Sights On 200th
Loudon, NH – Mark Martin congratulated Kyle Busch after the younger driver matched his record of 49 career NASCAR Nationwide Series victories Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Then he smiled and, speaking into a microphone that carried his words to the crowd at the track and to those watching the ESPN telecast, said, “And don’t forget, he’s just 26 years old. There are so many more (victories) left for him.’’
The victory on the one-mile oval was also the 100th of the youngster’s NASCAR career, including wins in the elite Sprint Cup series, trucks and one win in the touring K&N Pro Series for late model stocks.
That last number is the one that intrigues Busch.
Nobody in NASCAR history has won more than Richard Petty and David Pearson. Petty’s 200 wins all came in what is now the Cup series while Pearson won 105 in Cup and one in what is now Nationwide.
It’s that magical 200 that flashes before Busch’s eyes when he dreams of setting records.
“We’re halfway to my number,’’ he noted. “I always said it’s 200 and, whether it’s relative to Richard (Petty) or to David Pearson’s, that’s not what I’m out here for. It’s for myself and
myself only and to be able to achieve a goal.
“You set your goals high and you try to get out there and do it. If I set a goal that I knew I could reach, then it wouldn’t really be a goal. It’s off in the horizon, it’s a few years down the road but, hopefully, one day we get to 200.”
The latest victory came with a late charge that took him past Kevin Harvick during a green-white-checker finish.
Harvick, who led a race-best 59 laps, finished second. But his ongoing feud with Busch continued to simmer.
Harvick said he would have raced harder for the victory but NASCAR told him at Michigan last month that if he got into Busch in a race, officials would park him. After the race, Harvick and wife DeLana visited with Nationwide series director Joe Balash in the NASCAR hauler.
NASCAR officials said the Harvicks were not asked to report to the NASCAR hauler and their conversation with Balash was a private matter.
“I had a great race with (Kevin) Harvick,’’ Busch said. “No problem.
“I think that’s the way you should race. I raced him just as clean as he raced me, which is great. If he got a warning, I’m sorry he got a warning. I did not get a warning. I don’t know that I took advantage of him in any way, but I raced hard, I raced clean and ended up where I am.’’
Kasey Kahne was third Saturday. Fourth was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola was fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Kenny Wallace, Michael Annett, Brad Keselowski, Steve
Wallace and Justin Allgaier.
Keselowski passed Stenhouse Jr. for the lead with 70 laps to go. But 22 laps later, Stenhouse took the lead back.
With 27 laps to go, Busch eased past Stenhouse heading into Turn 3, held it under pressure from Stenhouse for half a lap and moved out to a 10-car lead.
The gap vanished when a caution came out with 16 laps to go. Busch kept the lead on the restart but as he started building on it, Steve Wallace caused a wreck which took out Reed Sorenson and also collected Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne.
Logano and Bayne were running top 10 and Bayne had led 58 laps.
The race restarted with four laps to go bur couldn’t make it to three laps to go as a big wreck again brought out a caution.
That set up the green/white/checkered restart.
“Harvick was right there with me but I beat him through (turns) 1 and 2,” Busch said.
Now it’s time, Busch said, to concentrate on his first big goal – winning a Cup championship. He goes into Sunday’s Lenox Tools 301 leading the series points.
“I hope we can stop rattling off all of those (stats) after today,’’ Busch said. “I think we get it. It’s a great opportunity for myself to race in NASCAR and to participate in as many races as I do and to win as often as we have.
“It takes great teams with everybody from Joe Gibbs Racing and (Cup crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and all the guys. To (Nationwide crew chief Dave (Rogers) and to Kyle Busch Motorsports with (truck crew chief) Eric (Phillips) and (KBM general manager) Rick Ren and everybody there.
“Certainly it’s been fun,’’ he added. “It’s been exciting here the last few seasons and being able to win as often as we have in a Nationwide Series, especially. Of course, to tie Mark’s (Martin) record at 49 (and) to win 100 is pretty cool.’’
– Mike Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments