WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Qualifying last, Kyle Busch did what he’d never done before – he won a pole on a road course, shattering the track record at Watkins Glen International on Saturday.
“This feels very good,” Busch said after posting a lap of 126.421 mph around the 11-turn, 2.45-mile circuit. “I’ve won races at road courses, but never been the fastest guy for one lap. Joey Logano did it at (the road course) at Sonoma (in June). Hopefully, we can get a win.”
Busch, who qualified last after posting the best time in practice on Friday, was nearly 2 mph faster than the mark Jeff Gordon set eight years ago. That knocked AJ Allmendinger off the pole.
Kurt Busch wins
Subbing for injured Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch held off Jimmie Johnson on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.
Busch beat his Sprint Cup nemesis by nearly a second for his third victory in 12 Nationwide races. He also deprived brother Kyle of his 50th career victory, which would have broken a tie with Mark Martin for the most in series history.
Joey Logano edged Kyle Busch for third, and Carl Edwards was fifth. Paul Menard, Ron Fellows and Nationwide regulars Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top 10.
The race was mostly a battle between the Busch brothers until the second caution of the race flew with two laps remaining in regulation. They took turns leading the entire 85 laps of the race, with Kyle leading 48 laps and Kurt, who started on the pole, ahead for 37.
Kyle Busch led Kurt Busch by 0.893 seconds with 10 laps to go, with Edwards 2.2 seconds back in third as the three distanced themselves from the pack.
Putting ‘R’ back in racing
A day after Jimmie Johnson went off on Kurt Busch, the five-time Sprint Cup champion’s nemesis shrugged off the criticism of last week’s run-in at Pocono Raceway.
“It’s one of those emotion points that boiled over,” Busch said before NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Watkins Glen International. “I felt like the way we raced each other on the track was what champions need to do, and that is to bring the car home where they were running on track. Third and fourth was where we were, and that’s where we crossed the line. Where we raced each other with a juke and a jive and rubbing, that’s racing.”
Busch said a talk with his father reaffirmed his actions at Pocono.
“It’s rubbing racing,” Busch said. “I’m putting the “R” back in racing.”
Johnson accused Busch of trying to run him down on the final lap and said Friday that he was angered by Busch’s remarks after their argument in the pits.