Kyle Busch fails to win 11th race
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Jamie McMurray believed he had the fastest car from the first practice to the last lap Saturday night.
McMurray proved the point by taking the lead for good on the final restart and holding off Kyle Busch to win the Great Clips 300 Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch, trying to become the first driver in the 28-year history of the Nationwide Series to win 11 races in a season, fell short in his late attempt to catch McMurray.
Busch dropped from first to third as McMurray took the lead coming out of pit row following the final caution flag on the 167th of 195 laps.
"He definitely wanted to get in front on the restart," said McMurray's crew chief, Tony Eury Sr. "He got out in the middle and got in front. That's the kind of move you have to make to win the race."
Busch led the most laps in the race but finished second, less than a second behind McMurray. Carl Edwards was third.
Busch was slowly cutting into McMurray's lead before running out of laps at the end of the race.
McMurray, who raced to his first Nationwide Series win in Atlanta in 2002, won for the first time since 2004 in Darlington. He has two Sprint Cup wins this year.
"I think Jamie is showing everybody how good he is this year," Edwards said.
McMurray started seventh but said "We unloaded as the fastest car here on the first practice."
"We just had a really good day," McMurray said. "At the end we just had tons of speed and certainly getting out in front on that last restart was critical. ... Fortunately we got a jump there and got ahead of Kyle. The clean air out front is huge."
Busch will have to try another week for his record 11th win of the season.
Sam Ard won 10 Nationwide races in 1983. Busch matched that mark in 2008. Busch's 10th win this season came on Aug. 20 in Bristol, Tenn.
Busch also finished second to Harvick in the 2009 Atlanta Nationwide race. In each case he said he was hurt by late caution flags.
"We just didn't quite have enough there on the short run to keep up with [McMurray]," Busch said.
Harvick's tire strategy helped him look like the driver to beat in the middle of the race.
Harvick left the second caution of the race on lap 60 in 14th place after taking on fresh tires while Busch and most other leaders remained on the track.
The fresh tread made an immediate dramatic difference as Harvick began passing cars with ease. Harvick took the lead from McMurray on lap 70. As he neared the midpoint of the race, Harvick had pushed his lead over the second-place Busch to a bewildering margin of 11 seconds.
Harvick led by about 13 seconds before he finally took his turn on pit row for gas and tires on lap 122 of the 195-lap race, giving Busch an opening to reclaim the lead.
"Harvick, with that little show he put on in the middle of the race, we knew tires would be big at the end," Eury said.
Pole-sitter Kasey Kahne was in the top 10 after the third caution before his hopes of winning ended when a problem with his right front fender forced him off the track. He was three laps down when he left pit row and finished 19th.
Soon after Kahne's problem, Reed Sorenson's day ended with his nose-first crash into the wall, forcing the final yellow flag that set up McMurray's decisive move. Sorenson was checked and released from the infield care center.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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