Friday, May 21, 2010
Busch holds off Bodine for victory
CONCORD, N.C. -- Lack of funding, loose lug nuts, a rare driver mistake and a long day couldn't stop Kyle Busch from his 70th visit to Victory Lane.
Busch overcame early problems and held off a charging Todd Bodine at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a Trucks Series race that didn't end until early Saturday morning because of a lengthy rain delay.
Busch recovered from hitting the wall early and had the lead over Ron Hornaday Jr. on a restart with three laps to go. Bodine moved into second, but couldn't catch Busch, who collected his second win of the season despite not having a primary sponsor for the No. 18 Toyota he owns.
"I know these guys are maybe a little leery or worried about what's going to happen about next year," Busch said of his team. "All we can do is work as hard as we can to win race and find sponsorship."
The confident 25-year-old knows how to do that, winning for the 70th time in NASCAR's top three series.
"That's the scary part. I may have 70 now but there's probably about 20 or 30 that I've missed out on, and maybe five that I've stolen," Busch said. "So the ratio is a little off."
Hornaday finished third, followed by James Buescher and Elliott Sadler.
Bodine moved past Aric Almirola, who finished seventh, to take a 2-point lead in the series standings.
"Just couldn't quite carry the momentum that Kyle could," Bodine said. "In typical Kyle fashion, their truck was real loose and he just drove through it."
It was a long day for the drivers and their crews.
The garage opened at 7:30 a.m. and practice was at 9. Qualifying began at 3:30 p.m., but the 200-mile race didn't begin until 11 p.m., three hours late and more than four hours after NASCAR canceled qualifying for Saturday's Sprint Cup All-Star race because of persistent showers.
There was also concern before and early in the race about at least two trucks -- including Busch's -- that mysteriously had loose lug nuts.
"They just found that three of the wheels were loose," Busch crew chief Eric Phillips said before the green flag. "We've just got to keep a better eye on our stuff, I guess."
Phillips refused to speculate if he thought someone intentionally loosened the wheels. But 20-year-old Austin Dillon -- whose car was parked behind Busch's in the impound area after qualifying -- claimed his wreck on the 10th lap was caused by the same problem.
"They left the left-rear lugs loose. We don't know what happened," said Dillon, grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress.
A NASCAR official said they were looking into the matter.
Despite lamenting earlier Friday about having to pay out of his own pocket for most of his two trucks because of sponsorship woes, Busch captured his third pole of the season in the afternoon. The No. 18 Toyota also entered first in the owners' standings.
Busch was dominating for most of the first 40 laps before he got loose and hit the wall. Busch stayed on the track despite some damage to his right front fender, and fought back to take the lead.
Busch came in for a lengthy pit stop to fix the damage and get fuel for the final time with 50 laps left. He returned to the track in ninth place, but he clearly had the best car and quickly moved to the front.
"Fortunately we had a fast enough race truck," Busch said.
The scariest moment came with 54 laps to go when Brent Raymer's No. 85 Ford burst into flames while at full speed on the frontstretch due to an engine problem. The fire engulfed the inside of the truck, but Raymer was able to quickly get out.
"I'm fine," Raymer said after leaving the infield care center before expressing concern for his cash-strapped team after also crashing in practice. "Two trucks, a motor, it's bad. That's pretty much our whole fleet."