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Gateway Fails To Hold Back Busch

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 19 2009
Kyle Busch got his sixth victory of the season Saturday night. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch got his sixth victory of the season Saturday night. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Obliterate the name of Gateway International Raceway from the shrinking list of places which have shut down Kyle Busch on race day. Busch conquered Gateway, which is located just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Saturday night when he won the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 Nationwide Series race.

The victory was the sixth of the year for Busch, who increased his points lead over Carl Edwards, who was third at Gateway, to 212 points. It was the 27th victory of Busch’s Nationwide career.

But it was his first at the tricky 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Ill.

Felt pretty good to get it, too.

“It fits in well because it’s a place that I haven’t won at,” Busch said. “The Nationwide Series running here is my only opportunity this year. The trucks come back but I won’t be able to make it. I think we’re in Richmond or something like that so that would  be too tough to handle. Hopefully this will just keep the momentum rolling. We’ve had real strong Nationwide cars this year and this is just another good one.”

To get the race, Busch needed the Big Two of successful racing – luck and a fast car.

The car came and went when it came to handling, but it was fast when it needed to be.

“Today we went out first in qualifying so we didn’t qualify as well as we would’ve wanted to back in ninth, but man right at the start of the green flag that thing was a rocket ship,” Busch said. “It just drove right up to the front. I’m real pleased with the way it handled there.

“The car was really good at the end of the race and we were able to get a win here tonight.”

Luck came in the form of a bad decision on the part of Kevin Harvick and his team.

Harvick had the lead late – at night and in the race.

Harvick led on a restart on lap 130 and maintained a six- to eight-car length lead over Busch. But on lap 171 Harvick ran out of fuel and coasted to the pits.

He had problems getting the car restarted and when he did emerged from the pits, he was three laps down and cooked in his bid to get the victory.

“It was a good hard fought race there. It was a real battle there with Kevin Harvick. He had a really good car tonight and unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to race him there at the end,” Busch said.

Reed Sorenson finished second.

Brad Keselowski, third in points, was eighth. He slipped 377 points behind Busch in the standings.

Jason Ratcliff, Busch’s crew chief, said the victory was important for a number of reasons.

The big one, he said, was that it showed that the team’s short-track program has become super formidable.

“I just think it worked out for us because of cautions and strategies went our way. But after Richmond this whole team, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide division went to work really hard on our short track program,” Ratcliff said. “Now it’s showing. What we were able to do at Loudon, had an opportunity at Milwaukee to win that one and now Gateway. We come to some of these tracks where Kyle (Busch) hasn’t had an opportunity to visit victory lane and to be able to do that, that’s special as well.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 19 2009
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