|Kyle Busch crossed the finish line to get a wire-to-wire in the inaugural Quaker State 400 Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. "This one ranks right up there with the best of them," said Busch after the race. Photos by Wade Bell
Busch wins inaugural Quaker State 400
July 13, 2011It was a good finish to a great weekend for Kyle Busch at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. On Friday night, Busch won the Craftsman Truck Series UNOH 225 then came from the back of the field to finish third in the Nationwide Feed The Children 300 on Friday. Rain washed out Friday's qualifying session but, in the earlier 90-minute practice, Busch posted the fastest speed and NASCAR used those times which gave Busch the pole for the inaugural Quaker State 400. There, Busch dominated again and took home the winner's trophy after holding off David Reutimann and Jimmie Johnson.
"This one ranks right up there with the best of them," Busch said after the race. "I haven't won any of the big ones, unfortunately, but, you know, it ranks right up there with Las Vegas being another one of my prestigious wins."
The talk at the track beforehand, however, was not about the race that night but the race to get to the track. Traffic woes overwhelmed both exits leading to the track and some waits as long as five hours were reported. One exit on I-71 had to be closed, thus creating more problems. Track officials said, however, remedies would be made to make sure the same thing doesn't happen next year.
"We've had an overwhelming response to our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400," Mark Siemendinger, track general manager, said in a statement. "We're already planning improvements and looking forward to a much better situation for next year's event."
|Kyle Busch had plenty of reason to yell as he celebrated winning the inaugural Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Busch won from the pole position with David Reutimann second and Jimmie Johnson third.|
"It's disappointing," Jimmie Johnson said of the situation. "The SMI group knows race tracks and does a very good job at all the race tracks they own. It's unfortunate we were unable to look ahead and see where these potential problems were."
The day was hot with the temperature at race time at 85 degrees with a track temperature of 111 degrees.
The first part of the race was a Kurt and Kyle show as the Busch brothers fought through the first 30 laps when a yellow caution came, allowing teams to check their tire wear.
Kasey Kahne was the first out of the service area with Kyle Busch second and his brother third. Dave Blaney moved up into the fourth spot, and Johnson took the fifth position.
Kyle Busch passed Kahne on lap 36 to regain control and quickly raced to a 2.582 second lead over Kurt, who had also passed Kahne. Kyle continued his dominance of brother Kurt, extending his advantage to 3.198 seconds. Johnson moved back into third with Carl Edwards taking over fourth. Brad Keselowski moved into fifth. Kyle said he believed he had the car to beat after getting past his brother.
"I was pretty confident that we were the car to beat," Busch said. "Whether you stay the car to beat is the next question because how long this race is, how you change from daytime to twilight to nighttime, the track goes through a lot of different changes."
Green-flag pit stops cycled around and, on lap 101, Kyle Busch hit a milestone with his 1,000th lap led this season. Johnson was well back in second at the start of the race with 473 laps led.
Kyle's lead over Kurt swelled to 5.556 seconds at lap 100. The long green-flag run continued into lap 118 as another round of green-flag pit stops began. Busch hit his stall on lap 129 but kept his lead after the stop. Busch's domination continued as his lead ballooned to 8.114 seconds over Edwards, who had moved up to second at the halfway point.
The second caution of the night came on lap 141 for debris on the backstretch, ending a run of 107 green-flag laps. Pit stops saw another lead change as Keselowski, who had won the Nationwide race the night before, came to the front of the field.
Tony Stewart moved into second with Kyle Busch third and Kurt in fourth. Edwards was fifth. A brief yellow came out on lap 153 for oil on the track, and Kyle Busch moved back into second following the break. Keselowski led until lap 158 when Busch took over again, making the pass on the backstretch. Stewart, Busch and Keselowski began swapping the front spot until Keselowski pushed ahead of Stewart on lap 160.
The green-flag run allowed more pitting under racing conditions and more lead swapping. Jamie McMurray finally had his engine go up in a cloud of smoke through turns one and two, bringing out the caution.
Keselowski continued to lead through lap 225, then fuel once again became an issue. Stewart, Johnson and Kyle Busch all stopped for fuel. On lap 240, Keselowski also had to stop, giving the lead to Kurt Busch. With 12 laps to go, Dale Earnhardt Jr. cut a tire on the backside and debris brought out the yellow.
The race restarted with seven laps left, and Kyle Busch went to the front ahead of Johnson. The run lasted only briefly as Clint Bowyer punched the wall in turn four, setting up a green-white-checkered. Busch looked in his rear-view mirror to see Johnson and Reutimann battling for second. Busch went on to get the win by 0.179 of a second over Reutimann, who pushed past Johnson for second.
"It feels awesome to be able to come out here and run the way we did," Busch said. "It was definitely a special event here this weekend. We felt the energy. We saw the people. It was awesome to be able to bring it home in from of all the Toyota folks that we have here."
Reutimann said his night went up and down before he was able to take second from Johnson.
"It was hit or miss the first part of the race," he said. "We would make it better then make it worse. Every time we put four tires on, we couldn't go anywhere, too tight ... Either the track was changing or tightening up more or we weren't changing enough."
Johnson said the track had one main line to use in turns one and two but two lines were available in three and four. However, he said the faster speeds narrowed those lanes.
"Two would work, but it seemed like there were three lines in three and four to mess with," he said, "kind of a lower, middle and outside lane. As fast as we're going, those lanes get smaller. You can catch someone, but we needed a little bit more room to actually run as fast as the guy in front of you."
"It's unfortunate we can't force that groove up farther," he said. "We all tried to get it up there higher, but we could only get to the middle of the track and couldn't get it any higher for some reason."
The win extended Kyle Busch's points edge over Edwards to just four points. Busch said he hopes this win will help him keep the lead on upcoming mile-and-a-half tracks.
"It was really good to figure this place out in Kentucky," Busch said. "But the next steps are going to be the Chase races that are the mile-and-a-halfs, like Chicago and Texas. Charlotte is in there. Homestead is in there ... It would certainly be nice to know that we're figuring things out."
1. Kyle Busch Toyota 267 Running
2. David Reutimann Toyota 267 Running
3. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 267 Running
4. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 267 Running
5. Carl Edwards Ford 267 Running
6. Matt Kenseth Ford 267 Running
7. Brad Keselowski Dodge 267 Running
8. David Ragan Ford 267 Running
9. Kurt Busch Dodge 267 Running
10. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 267 Running
11. Denny Hamlin Toyota 267 Running
12. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 267 Running
13. Kasey Kahne Toyota 267 Running
14. Joey Logano Toyota 267 Running
15. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 267 Running
16. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 267 Running
17. Regan Smith Chevrolet 267 Running
18. Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 267 Running
19. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 267 Running
20. Marcos Ambrose Ford 267 Running
21. Greg Biffle Ford 267 Running
22. Mark Martin Chevrolet 267 Running
23. Landon Cassill Chevrolet 267 Running
24. Paul Menard Chevrolet 266 Running
25. Casey Mears Toyota 266 Running
26. Bobby LaBonte Toyota 265 Running
27. Brian Vickers Toyota 265 Running
28. A. J. Allmendinger Ford 265 Running
29. Travis Kvapil Ford 265 Running
30. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 265 Running
31. David Gilliland Ford 264 Running
32. Andy Lally Ford 264 Running
33. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 264 Running
34. Mike Bliss Ford 264 Running
35. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 259 Accident
36. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 198 Engine
37. Scott Wimmer Dodge 90 Electrical
38. Tony Raines Ford 38 Vibration
39. Joe Nemecheck Toyota 37 Brakes
40. J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 35 Transmission
41. Michael McDowell Toyota 32 Electrical
42. Scott Riggs Chevrolet 28 Brakes
43. Mike Skinner Toyota 17 Electrical
Average speed: 137.314
Time of race: 2 hrs., 55 mins., 00 secs.
Margin of victory: 0.179 sec.
Lead changes: 20 among 12 drivers
Cautions: 6 for 30 laps