Arrow-right Camera

Kyle Busch has good feeling returning to Kentucky

Kyle Busch hopes to turn things around today in Kentucky. (Associated Press)
Kyle Busch hopes to turn things around today in Kentucky. (Associated Press)

After struggling in his last four starts, Kyle Busch is hoping he has found the perfect tonic in Bourbon country.

Busch is the defending champion at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Getting back to a track where he’s had some success – he won the Truck race and finished third in the Nationwide event a year ago as well – comes at just the right time.

“It was a great race for us last year,” he said Friday just before taking the track for a weather-plagued qualifying session in which he finished second to Jimmie Johnson, Johnson’s first pole in more than a year. “I feel good about it again this year. I feel like we’re right where we left off.”

The thing is, Busch and his Toyota have not been running well.

The 27-year-old from Las Vegas has had a season of highs and lows. He won at Richmond and then finished second at Talladega, fourth at Darlington and third at Charlotte in consecutive starts.

Since then, he’s had three blown engines and has finished 29th, 30th, 32nd and 17th. Last week at the race in Sonoma, Denny Hamlin’s car spun out and tangled with Busch’s, damaging the front end of the car. That caused him to limp around the road course the rest of the race.

Busch finds himself 12th in the Cup standings and a distant 137 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth. He’s well aware he can’t continue to have problems if he hopes to make the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.

“I’m just hoping that we work as hard as we can and run as hard as we can and we get good finishes,” he said. • Johnson, who had not won a pole since September 2010 at Dover, had a top speed of 181.818 mph and a lap time of 29.700. He edged defending champion Busch, who went 181.421 and was just 0.065 seconds slower.

Dillon wins Nationwide

Pole-sitter Austin Dillon, driving the legendary No. 3 car, led most of the final 113 laps to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

It was the first Nationwide victory for Dillon, a rookie who captured the Truck Series title a year ago.

The 22-year-old native of Lewisville, N.C., also took over the series lead with the victory. He came into the night just a point back of leader Elliott Sadler.