March 20, 2011 in Sports

Kyle Busch wins Nationwide race at Bristol; Kahne second

Associated Press
 

Kyle Busch continued his march through NASCAR’s record books with yet another victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.

His dominating win Saturday was the 46th of his career in the second-tier Nationwide Series, which puts him three back from tying Mark Martin’s record. But in leading 266 of the 300 laps, he became the first driver in series history to lead more than 10,000 laps.

Busch has led a total of 10,035 laps in the Nationwide Series.

And at Bristol? His win was his 10th spanning all three of NASCAR’s national series, and he’s led a whopping 2,349 laps on the Tennessee bullring.

“Nobody gets around this place better than he does,” crew chief Jason Ratcliffe said.

Busch has won the last four races at Bristol, dating back to August when he had a three-race weekend sweep. He’s got four career Bristol wins in the elite Sprint Cup Series, three in Nationwide and three in the Truck Series.

The Nationwide win moved him closer in his pursuit of Martin’s all-time mark. Martin grabbed a win two weeks ago in Las Vegas, but conceded that Busch would break the mark by this summer. Busch said Martin probably texted him immediately after the race in what’s become good-natured ribbing between the two.

“Mark and I have a little fun egging it on,” he said. “He told me after Las Vegas time is on my side, not his side.”

Kasey Kahne finished second and was followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott Sadler and Joey Logano. Kevin Harvick was sixth, Carl Edwards seventh and Jason Leffler, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 10.

Carl Edwards had every reason to believe he had one of the best cars at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Then Goodyear called for a rare tire change in the middle of a race weekend, sending every team back to square one in their preparations for today’s race.

“The tire is a lot slower and it’s going to be a little more difficult to drive,” said Edwards, who is on the pole. “It’s a challenge for everybody.”

Goodyear learned there was a problem when the tires did not lay enough rubber on the track surface. The right-side tires were subjected to considerable wear and lasted only about 30 laps before they began to disintegrate into a powdery substance.

So Goodyear called for nearly 1,300 right-side tires to be shipped to Bristol from North Carolina, and they arrived in time for Saturday’s practice. Teams were given only one set to use over the two practice sessions.

The tire now being used was raced at California and Kansas last year, and has the same outer tread as the tire raced at Bristol last August. But there was no testing data on the tires for use at Bristol, and teams need that to properly set the handling of the car.

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