Busch's win at Lowe's pads points lead
CONCORD, N.C. -- Who needs a flu shot when you can take the checkered flag instead?
Kyle Busch, still dealing with a flu that developed into walking pneumonia, dominated the Nationwide Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday night, picking up his seventh victory of the year to move closer to his first series title.
Following a week of bed rest and antibiotics, Busch looked like his regular self on a chilly night at the 1.5-mile oval, leading 137 laps to push his push his advantage over Carl Edwards to 195 points with four races remaining.
"I felt like we were in another zip code tonight," Busch said.
It certainly looked like it at times, as Busch's No. 18 Toyota had little trouble doing whatever it wanted. He avoided a couple of early race wrecks that took out a handful contenders then zoomed away from the field to collect his 28th career Nationwide win.
A fast race car turned out to be just what the doctor ordered following a tough stretch in which the flu left one of NASCAR's hardest working drivers so weak he actually left last week's Nationwide and Sprint Cup races early because he was concerned a fever wouldn't let him see straight.
The move ended up costing him some valuable points, as Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin crashed while getting stuck between Brad Keselowski and Greg Biffle, a crash Busch said Hamlin couldn't avoid.
"Denny got caught up in a mess I don't know if any of us could have gotten out of," Busch said. "He could have won the race and almost won the race for us, but unfortunately we lost some points."
Busch got most of them back at the 1.5-mile oval, a place he has owned in recent years. The win was his fifth Nationwide victory in 13 starts at track.
"This is my house, at least on the Nationwide side," he said.
The victory ended an 11-race winless streak for Busch, an eternity for one of NASCAR's top drivers. The streak included five runner-up finishes, heady territory for most drivers but hardly acceptable for the perpetually cranky Busch.
He was all smiles Friday, however, praising his crew for much of the race and telling crew chief Jason Ratcliff he wouldn't change a thing with the car.
"It was a freight train for sure," Busch said. "The car was on rails."
Bliss, who collected his 12th top 10 of the year in a car that didn't get sponsorship until Monday, held no grand plans of trying to catch Busch even as a rain storm threatened to cut the 300-mile race short. The showers held off until moments after Busch did a couple of post-race burnouts.
"He just dominated the race," Bliss said. "He was really fast."
Maybe, but Busch isn't quite ready to declare the season title locked up, though the title would help ease the frustrated he's endured on the Cup side, where he missed the Chase for the Championship.
"It's not over," Busch said. "It's definitely any man's race right now as far as Carl [Edwards] or myself or even [Keselowski]."
Joey Logano, hoping to become just the fifth driver to win three straight Nationwide races, was collected in a seven-car pile up on lap 70. He pitted eight times during the ensuing caution while his crew tried to bang out the dents. He flirted with getting back into the top 10, but was black-flagged late in the race when a part of his rear fender came dangerously close to breaking off. Logano finished 14th.
The crash also took out Cup star Matt Kenseth, who led 21 laps early before getting caught in the second wave of the incident.
While Kenseth shrugged his shoulders about the bad luck, Nationwide regular Steve Wallace did little to hide his frustration.
Wallace, who started the night sixth in points, threw his helmet in frustration while his crew worked on the car in the garage. He returned to the track after missing 95 laps only to be involved in another crash with less than 30 laps remaining.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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