Kurt Busch holds on to win at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP)
Kurt Busch didn't want to talk about his future. All he wanted to do was celebrate his victory with underfunded Phoenix Racing.
Busch won a wild Nationwide race at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night, holding off several challengers over the final hundred yards in a battered race car.
''I don't care about me right now,'' Busch said. ''Tonight is about Phoenix Racing.''
Busch's victory was his second in the Nationwide Series this season and first with Phoenix Racing. He won for his brother's team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, at Richmond.
The latest one was more improbable, given that Busch's No. 1 Chevrolet was spewing steam over the final 10 laps and had what seemed like a roll of tape holding it together.
''It's just a matter of putting yourself in position to win,'' Busch said. ''Tonight, we overcame our damage. We could have folded, but these guys jumped into action and didn't give up.''
The race set a Nationwide Series record with 42 lead changes and 16 different leaders, besting the previous mark set at Daytona in February. The two-car tandem racing and recently paved track made for exciting passes and lots of action.
Plenty of wrecks, too.
Less than half the field remained on the lead lap for a green-white-checkered finish. Busch started the two-lap sprint pushing Austin Dillon, but made a move to the front with a lap left thanks to help from Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was 11th on the final restart. Busch and Stenhouse held off Michael Annett and Dillon as they neared the finish line.
''There's heart and passion out there that these big teams don't got,'' Busch's crew chief, Nick Harrison, said.
The win seemingly meant a lot to Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion who was suspended for a weekend earlier this season by NASCAR for verbally abusing a media member.
''I'm a racer,'' said Busch, who lost his ride with Penske Racing last season after several public blowups. ''I don't know much about anything else. You get caught up in marketing or PR and everything else that goes along with it, but you've got to do all the steps in this day and age. I keep saying I grew up 30 years too late, and I still haven't grown up, even though I'm 33. But back in the 80s, that's what this team reminds me of. It's family. And you go hard, or you go home.''
Stenhouse was second, followed by Annett, Dillon and Joey Logano. Logano's car failed a post-race inspection, and the team could be penalized next week.
Dillon's car spun across the track as he crossed the finish line and made contact with at least two others before coming to a stop.
''It's not fun coming to the checkered spinning out, but we did it in the best fashion you can,'' Dillon said. ''There's no better feeling than coming to Daytona and coming to the checkered and having the run on the two leaders there. Ricky blocked high, and I tried to cross him up, got hooked a little bit. I probably should have just wedged it in there and crashed everybody. But I got hooked back left. It was a fun race. It was an awesome feeling. I was smiling the whole last lap.''
Dillon might not be smiling next week.
His car failed post-qualifying inspection earlier Friday. It was the second failed inspection for the team in two weeks and could lead to another penalty. He was docked six points after officials deemed his car was too low following a victory at Kentucky last Friday.
''I am not concerned,'' said Dillon, whose grandfather is NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. ''It was just a bummer because we made another mistake. It's two in a row and it's not fun and I know grandfather was upset with the guys.''
Danica Patrick had reason to be upset, too.
She was involved in one of the earlier wrecks - her car slammed head first into an inside retaining wall with 16 laps remaining - and finished 31st.
''Yeah, bummer,'' she said. ''It kind of felt like the IndyCar days when you are close a couple of times. It's just frustrating when that's the case. What are you going to do? There was an accident happening in front of me, and the best thing that you can do is try and get around it. I haven't seen a replay, but I know there was an accident in front of me.''
Busch did everything right down the stretch and got to celebrate another victory.
''It just worked out beautifully,'' he said. ''The seas parted. I juked and jived and found the right holes. I went high. I went low. I'm glad I didn't have to move people out of the way at the end `cause Stenhouse was pushing hard. He knew he had to get us in position to go for the win. He stayed with us the right amount and then we could settle it on who could win it.''