Just when it appeared Kyle Busch couldn’t be any stronger in a Nationwide Series race, he broke the record for most laps led on a 1.5-mile track in a Nationwide race in winning the Dollar General 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday.
Starting from the pole, Busch went on to lead 195 of the event’s 200 laps, eclipsing the record of 194 laps led set by the late Dale Earnhardt at Charlotte in 1986.
”It was just a great day with a phenomenal race car,” said Busch, who earned his 10th win in 20 Nationwide races this season, tied for second-most wins in a single season on NASCAR’s junior circuit.
Busch holds the record for most Nationwide wins in a season, 13 in 2010.
Busch jumped out from the opening green flag and never looked back, widening his lead to seven-plus seconds at one point. No other drivers were able to mount a serious threat as Busch excelled in every aspect of the game, earning his fifth perfect driver rating of the season.
It was Busch’s 61st career win in 264 career Nationwide Series starts, and his 123rd overall win across all three of NASCAR’s top racing series.
Busch also won Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race and will go for a second career weekend sweep in Sunday’s opener of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Busch previously won races in all three series on the same weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) in August 2010.
Busch will start Sunday’s Geico 400 from the 12th position. He was seventh-fastest in Saturday’s morning practice, but dropped to 19th in the final practice later in the afternoon.
”Not as good as I’d like them to be,” Busch said when asked about his chances for a sweep. ”It’s going to be a bit of a challenge. I think we’ll be a top-10 car. . We’ll just have to push hard and see if we can achieve the trifecta.”
Joey Logano was runner-up to Busch Saturday, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Austin Dillon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Brian Vickers, Matt Kenseth, Parker Kligerman, Kevin Harvick and Nelson Piquet Jr. rounded out the top 10
”I was hoping for a green-white-checker because that would have been the only way I’d have been able to beat (Busch),” Logano said.
The top four drivers in the Nationwide standings remained in the same position they had coming into the race.
Hornish Jr. leads the standings, now 17 points ahead of Austin Dillon. Regan Smith remained in third (36 points back), followed by Elliott Sadler (44).
”We gained one (point in the standings) and that’s what we need to continue to be able to do,” Hornish said. ”We’re doing a good job and at this point of the season, for perhaps the last 15 races, I’ve tried not to focus on it (the championship) because it’s something I can’t control.
”I need to focus on myself and making sure we race right around the other people we’re trying to beat for the championship and to run smart. It’s good forward progress. We just need to take a little bit bigger step the next time.”
Each of the remaining drivers in the top 10 all moved up one spot in the season rankings after Saturday’s race: Brian Vickers is fifth (56 behind), followed by Brian Scott (72), Trevor Bayne (82), rookie Kyle Larson (110), Parker Kligerman (153) and rookie Alex Bowman (221).
Larson started 39th Saturday but worked his way up as high as third. A tire that began rubbing on the 165th lap caused Larson to spin out and hit the wall 10 laps later, ending his chances of catching Busch. Larson finished 32nd.
NOTES: Kenny Wallace finished 17th in his 900th career start across all three series: Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World. . Eric McClure finished 25th after missing the last four races due to acute renal failure a month ago. . Maryeve Dufault made her second career Nationwide start and first on an oval, finishing 31st.