NASCAR: Nationwide win is Busch’s 100th
By Dan Gelston
LOUDON, N.H. ó Kyle Busch grabbed a souvenir for the victory lap heíd perfected 99 times before: A white ě100î flag that rippled out the window of the No. 18 Toyota, one special number and a giant slice of NASCAR history.
Whether purists like it or not, Busch joined an elite list in auto racing history, becoming the third NASCAR driver to win 100 races.
Buschís victory Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway also tied him with Mark Martin for first place in career Nationwide Series victories with 49. Busch has 22 wins in Sprint Cup and 29 in the Trucks Series.
ěIt will stick out for a long time because it is No. 100,î Busch said. ěBut Iím not going to say itís the biggest one. This is certainly a special day.î
It might not even be his biggest win this weekend if Busch can win the Sprint Cup race Sunday.
It might be hard to remember if Busch reaches his eventual goal of winning 200 races.
Only ěThe Kingî has hit that whopping number.
Richard Petty is NASCARís career leader with 200 wins and David Pearson is second with 106. Petty won all of his races at the Cup level. Pearson won 105 races in Cup and one in Nationwide. Busch has 100 wins spread over NASCARís top three national series.
ěYou set your goals high and get out there and try and do it,î Busch said. ěItís down the road, but hopefully one day we get to 200.î
Busch, the 2009 Nationwide champion, won for the sixth time this season.
Asked how many of his 99 victories he remembered, Busch said this week he only thinks about the next one.
Busch, only 26 years old, took a victory ride around the track holding the ě100î flag out the window.
One of the most polarizing drivers in the sport, even the milestone cause a stir, with old-school fans feeling Buschís total shouldnít be lumped with Petty and Pearson.
Pettyís son, and former driver, Kyle, posted on Twitter he felt it was an unfair comparison.
Busch understood those feelings. But 100 wins is 100 wins.
ěCertainly, mineís a little bit different,î Busch said. ěBut it feels good.î
He has 22 wins in 240 career Cup starts; 49 for 217 in Nationwide; 29 for 93 in Trucks.
Martin, who has 96 career NASCAR wins, was one of the first to shake Buschís hand and offer congratulations.
Martin races only a few times in Nationwide each year, but did win a race in Las Vegas this year. Martin recalled the first time he saw Busch turn some practice laps, and feeling like the teen had been racing ěforever.î
ěHe was a natural from the first time he slipped into one of those big stock cars,î Martin said. ěItís been amazing to watch. Itís hard for me to get my arms around where is he at his age.î
Kevin Harvick was second and Kasey Kahne third. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Aric Almirola rounded out the top five. Carl Edwards completed barely 60 laps into the race with a bad engine. He finished the race in ESPNís broadcast booth.
Busch led the final 33 laps and blew past the field on restarts to win on a green-white checkered finish.
One of the drivers left behind was Harvick.
Harvick has been embroiled in a feud with Busch and the pair was placed on probation earlier this year for a pit road dust-up at Darlington. Late in the race, Harvick said over the radio that NASCAR president Mike Helton told him ěnot to touchî Busch. Harvick was unhappy with NASCARís decision.
ěI was told a few weeks ago if we touched the 18 car, weíd be parked,î Harvick said. ěIt would have been a lot easier to win if you didnít have handcuffs put on you.î
Busch said he had no problems with Harvick.
ěI raced him as clean as he raced me,î Busch said. ěIf he got a warning, Iím sorry he got a warning. I did not get a warning. I raced hard, I raced clean and I am where I am.î
Buschís first win came only 12 days after his 19th birthday in the 2004 Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway. Heís won at 25 different tracks and had NASCARís first three-race weekend sweep last year at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch has won Nationwide races in eight straight seasons, including a record 13 times in 2010.
With sunglasses parked on his cap, and a smile, Busch listened in the news conference as a list of his accomplishments was rattled off.