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Logano Caps Spectacular Race with Daytona 500 Victory

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—The record will reflect that Joey Logano won Sunday’s 57th Daytona 500 under caution, when a multicar wreck on the backstretch forced NASCAR to wave the yellow flag as Logano led the field into the final corner on the second lap of a green-white-checkered-flag finish.

But the notation of that final caution does no justice to the memory of a race that produced some of the most scintillating restrictor-plate racing in the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

From a restart on Lap 182 of a scheduled 200, fans standing—not sitting—in a packed front grandstand were treated to 16 straight laps of close-quarters, three-wide racing that saw the lead change from one lap to the next, as one line or another would inch ahead. Indeed, NASCAR’s loop data statistics said Sunday’s race set a Daytona record for green flag passes (12,677 in all).

The final two-lap sprint, on the other hand, was no contest. Logano picked the outside lane for the restart on Lap 202 and surged ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson when the bottom lane didn’t move as quickly as expected.

Kevin Harvick was second when NASCAR threw the final caution and froze the field. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. charged from eighth to third before the yellow. Denny Hamlin ran fourth, followed by Johnson and Casey Mears.

But it was Logano who earned the trip Victory Lane, continuing unabated from a breakout 2014 season that saw him win five times in the Sprint Cup Series and qualify for the final round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup before finishing fourth in the final standings.

If Logano streaked away on the final restart, it was Clint Bowyer who helped move him into position to win the race during the 16-lap green-flag run that preceded the sixth caution on Lap 198.

Logano could barely contain himself when recalling the action of the closing laps. With a shove from Bowyer, Logano took the lead from Jimmie Johnson on Lap 191 and held it until NASCAR called the caution for Justin Allgaier’s spin seven laps later.

“I keep looking at this trophy, and it’s amazing,” Logano said after climbing from his No. 22 Team Penske Ford. “What a beauty. … Now I lost my train of thought. I’m sorry. I’m so distracted right now.

“We got the push that got us out front and that was just Clint pushing hard. He wasn’t lifting before he got to my bumper, he was slamming into the back bumper and that is what we needed to get this Ford out front and here in Victory Lane.”

Logano’s ninth win in the Cup series in all likelihood will mean a return trip to the Chase. It’s also the second victory for team owner Roger Penske in the Great American Race, the first coming in the 50th edition of the event in 2008, with driver Ryan Newman.

Logano’s victory also extended a remarkable four-race streak for Ford, which won the Rolex 24 Hours in January and swept the NASCAR weekend with triumphs in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday (Tyler Reddick) and NASCAR XFINITY Series on Saturday (Ryan Reed).

Earnhardt felt he had the strongest car in the field, but a mistake on the Lap 182 restart shuffled him from third all the way out of the top 15. For the balance of the race, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet fought his way back toward the front but wasn’t in position to make a play for the win at the end.

Earnhardt had planned to tuck in behind Johnson, his teammate, after the restart, but didn’t have room to make the move.

“Jimmie was on the quarter panel … he was in a great spot on the guy in front of me,” Earnhardt said. “And I thought if I could get in behind him, he was going to shoot past to the lead, I could tuck on the quarter panel a little bit as soon as I got on that right rear quarter panel.

“I didn’t think they were that close on the outside line. I thought we had a couple car-lengths on the outside line, but they were right there. Just one of them moves. You make some good ones, you make some bad ones. I made a bad one too late.”

Harvick, the defending series champion, was philosophical about the runner-up finish.

“Yeah, definitely, for us it was a good, solid day to start the season,” Harvick said. “Obviously, you want to try to win the race. But sometimes you’re just happy to keep rolling and going out of here and head to Atlanta (next Sunday) with a solid day.

“I thought we were going to have at least a chance, back up to the 88 there, come up to the 22 coming off of Turn 4. But in the end, that didn’t all pan out with the caution. Still, a good weekend for us.”

Polesitter Jeff Gordon, racing in the Daytona 500 for the last time, was a victim of the wreck that brought out the final caution. Gordon dominated early, leading a race-high 87 laps, but the late wreck dropped him to 33rd at the finish.

“This was an amazing week and an amazing day,” Gordon said. “I’m just in a different place that is so foreign to me, but so incredible–to just be taking it all in and enjoying every moment.

“Yeah, right now I’m a little bit sad this is my final Daytona 500, but I’m more upset we didn’t have a shot at winning there at the end.”

Notes: Regan Smith finished 16th in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in relief of suspended driver Kurt Busch. … Matt Crafton finished 18th as an 11th-hour substitute in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, after driver Kyle Busch was sidelined with a broken leg in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race. … A blown engine relegated 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski to a 41st-place finish. … Danica Patrick ran 21st in her fourth Daytona 500 start.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Daytona 500

  1. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 203, $1581453.
  2. (11) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 203, $1157470.
  3. (3) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 203, $857245.
  4. (42) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 203, $680758.
  5. (2) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 203, $616232.
  6. (41) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 203, $470640.
  7. (9) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 203, $437870.
  8. (10) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 203, $405297.
  9. (13) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 203, $375045.
  10. (8) Greg Biffle, Ford, 203, $389308.
  11. (26) David Gilliland, Ford, 203, $348458.
  12. (38) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 203, $361953.
  13. (27) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 203, $330945.
  14. (30) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 203, $365219.
  15. (33) Aric Almirola, Ford, 203, $363381.
  16. (24) Regan Smith(i), Chevrolet, 203, $340558.
  17. (28) David Ragan, Ford, 203, $324908.
  18. (4) Matt Crafton(i), Toyota, 203, $383124.
  19. (36) Johnny Sauter(i), Toyota, 203, $318970.
  20. (40) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 203, $337420.
  21. (20) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 203, $331628.
  22. (19) Cole Whitt, Ford, 203, $318065.
  23. (6) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 203, $335603.
  24. (43) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 203, $326103.
  25. (21) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 203, $327840.
  26. (34) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 203, $347217.
  27. (15) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 203, $349398.
  28. (31) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 203, $317190.
  29. (32) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 203, $325778.
  30. (37) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 203, $313240.
  31. (23) Michael McDowell, Ford, 203, $313590.
  32. (14) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 203, $314228.
  33. (1) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 203, $594801.
  34. (29) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 202, $344381.
  35. (35) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 202, $350826.
  36. (16) Mike Wallace, Toyota, 199, $313883.
  37. (18) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 197, $319158.
  38. (22) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 184, $317261.
  39. (12) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, Engine, 175, $281003.
  40. (25) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 161, $273790.
  41. (39) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Engine, 160, $318331.
  42. (7) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Accident, 72, $300598.
  43. (17) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Engine, 18, $262390.
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Ryan Reed Gets First XFINITY Win at Daytona; Crash Sidelines Kyle Busch for Daytona 500

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—With a spectacular last-lap move to the inside, not to mention a timely shove from Roush Fenway Raceway teammate Chris Buescher, Ryan Reed stormed to his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in Saturday’s Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

“Oh, my God, we won Daytona!” exulted Reed, who has overcome a diagnosis of Type I diabetes to drive full-time in the XFINITY Series.

Buescher finished second, .089 seconds behind, with Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski claiming positions three through five. Keselowski was leading at the white flag, but a last-lap crash in Turn 1 left him alone in front of the field and a prime target for the Roush Fenway tandem.

On Lap 112, during a 10-car wreck that started at the exit from the tri-oval, Kyle Busch crashed nose-first into the concrete wall inside Turn 1. Busch climbed from his car but was unable to stay on his feet.

Emergency medical technicians put an air cast on Busch’s right leg before lifting him on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance. The driver of the No. 54 Toyota was transported directly to Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation. Busch was awake and alert and undergoing treatment for his leg injury. Joe Gibbs Racing said Busch will not drive in Sunday’s Daytona 500, and the organization is making contingency plans. Sunday’s race will be the first Sprint Cup event since the penultimate event of the 2001 season without one of the Busch brothers (Kurt or Kyle) in the field.

In a race where attrition was the watchword, Reed was one of nine drivers to finish on the lead lap.

“For every kid that gets diagnosed with diabetes, or anything that says you can’t do something, just go out there and overcome it and do it,” Reed said. “This is unreal. It hasn’t even sunk in yet. …

“When the wreck broke out of the least lap, Keselowski was out there on an island, and we got a huge run and it set up perfectly. … It’s amazing.”

After failing to qualify for the Daytona race last year, Buescher was elated with his second-place run, especially since he finished runner-up to a teammate.

“We’re just happy to be running this race this year,” Buescher said. “After last year going the way it did, we’re proud that we were in it. Our Ford Mustang was fast all weekend. Just trying to stay out of trouble, and there was a lot of it.

“We barely got out of it. I think we ended up, me and Ty, at one point getting through one of those last ones. It was a melee, a lot of torn up equipment. Just happy we could get out of it. Happy for Ryan to get his first win, knowing the feeling after last year (when he got his first win at Mid-Ohio) of finally getting one off your back.”

Chase Elliott’s XFINITY Series title defense got off to a rocky start. Elliott was an innocent victim of a 13-car wreck on Lap 93 but continued after repairs. The coup de grace for the driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevy came on Lap 112, when he was sidelined in the same wreck that injured Busch.

The DNF (did not finish) was Elliott’s first in 34 XFINITY Series starts.

Darrell Wallace Jr. and Elliott Sadler finished 12th and 19th, respectively, in their first events for Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Alert Today Florida 300

1. (8) Ryan Reed, Ford, 120, $128770.
2. (10) Chris Buescher, Ford, 120, $101035.
3. (34) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 120, $82710.
4. (1) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 120, $74735.
5. (14) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 120, $64245.
6. (18) David Starr, Toyota, 120, $67520.
7. (5) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 120, $57820.
8. (27) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 120, $57745.
9. (21) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 120, $61495.
10. (40) Dale Earnhardt Jr.(i), Chevrolet, 119, $55445.
11. (7) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 119, $59445.
12. (28) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 119, $59070.
13. (31) Mike Wallace(i), Toyota, 119, $52595.
14. (23) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 118, $58270.
15. (37) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, 118, $58570.
16. (13) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 118, $57670.
17. (25) Eric McClure, Toyota, 116, $57420.
18. (6) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 116, $57295.
19. (11) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 116, $57145.
20. (38) Blake Koch, Toyota, 115, $57520.
21. (20) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 115, $56895.
22. (33) Derek White, Dodge, 115, $56765.
23. (24) Josh Reaume #, Chevrolet, 115, $50590.
24. (19) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 114, $56465.
25. (15) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, Accident, 112, $56465.
26. (32) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, Accident, 111, $52690.
27. (9) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Accident, 111, $56090.
28. (35) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Accident, 111, $56990.
29. (4) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, Accident, 110, $55990.
30. (17) Cale Conley #, Toyota, Accident, 110, $56065.
31. (39) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 108, $55590.
32. (26) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 107, $55495.
33. (29) John Wes Townley(i), Chevrolet, 106, $55445.
34. (2) Justin Marks, Toyota, Accident, 93, $55640.
35. (12) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, Accident, 93, $55224.
36. (3) Chad Boat(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 92, $45650.
37. (22) Scott Lagasse Jr., Toyota, Accident, 92, $50500.
38. (16) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, Accident, 92, $49500.
39. (36) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, Accident, 91, $48500.
40. (30) Dexter Bean, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 5, $41500.

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Jeff Gordon Wins the Pole For His Final Daytona 500

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Jeff Gordon won a high-stakes game of “Beat the Clock” on Sunday, with the pole for his final Daytona 500 the ultimate prize.

Gordon crossed the start/finish line to start his pole-winning lap as time expired in the final round of knockout qualifying at Daytona International Speedway.

His time of 44.711 seconds (201.293 mph) was .035 seconds better than that of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, who secured the outside front-row starting spot for next Sunday’s 57th running of the Great American Race (1 p.m. ET on FOX).

The first use of group knockout qualifying at Daytona, under a format introduced at Talladega last fall, determined only the two front-row starting positions for the 500. However, the next four fastest drivers — with speeds counted from any of the three qualifying rounds — also locked themselves into the field, with specific starting positions to be determined after Thursday night’s Budweiser Duel at Daytona (7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).

Those drivers were Aric Almirola, whose 202.340 mph speed in the first round was the fastest of any session; Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray.

The pole was Gordon’s fourth at Daytona and the 78th of his career. Gordon has announced his retirement from full-time competition at the end of the season and has said this year’s Daytona 500 will be his last.

The front-row sweep was the fourth for Hendrick Motorsports.

“This is definitely huge for many reasons,” Gordon said. “It’s one I’ve been stressing about for a while. This format is crazy and chaotic, and it can be extremely rewarding when you have a day like we had… and to be able to bring that kind of group effort together.

“In the past, this has been one of the easiest days I’ve had all year long. Just go out there and hold it wide open and run a couple of laps. It’s all about the team and the car and the preparation they put into it. All that hard work still goes into this effort, but I play a bigger role, the spotter plays a bigger role, and there’s just so much more strategy, trying to play this chess match and the time game and the wait game. It’s really intense.”

With less than two minutes left in the first five-minute qualifying session, Reed Sorenson’s ill-fated attempt to block Clint Bowyer into Turn 1 sparked a five-car wreck that took out Bowyer’s No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

Also damaged in the crash was the No. 11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin, who was fastest (199.840 mph) in the first session among drivers who drew odd-number qualifying positions. But after cars with even-numbered positions ran incident free in the second session of the first round, Hamlin was relegated to 11th, and Aric Almirola topped the speed chart at 202.370 mph.

None of the four Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolets, all of which were in the odd-number session of Round One, made the top 24 required to advance to the second round. But no driver was more incensed than Bowyer with the new qualifying system for the Daytona 500.

“We used to come down here and worry about who would sit on the pole in the biggest race of the year,” Bowyer said. “Now all we do is come down here and worry about how a start-and-park (Sorenson) like this out of desperation is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500.”

Bowyer may have been the most strident opponent of the new system, but he wasn’t the only one. NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body is open to discussions on how to improve the process.

“If you look at group qualifying as a whole, we felt it worked really well, but certainly there are some challenges on superspeedways,” O’Donnell said. “One of the reasons we moved away from single-car qualifying is — and I think you’ve heard that from the drivers as well — a lot of things go into it, aero packages, oils, different setups, based on one lap not really based on a race setup.

“You also heard Jeff Gordon and others also talk about putting it back in the drivers’ hands a little bit more. Those are things that we liked. I would say we certainly don’t want to see wrecks of any kind. It’s not lost on us how much work goes into these cars… for the biggest race of the year.”

For his part, Sorenson took responsibility for the wreck and apologized.

“As you can see, I was just trying to block,” Sorenson said. “That’s what got Matt Kenseth the win (Saturday) night (in the Sprint Unlimited). I was doing everything I could to stay in front of Clint. Pretty obvious what I was trying to do. I didn’t mean to wreck anybody or anything like that.

“Just a product of this qualifying, trying to get that one lap. I didn’t want it to end that way, that’s for sure. I apologize to all the guys. Try to get a car here and try to get in the race on Thursday.”

The wreck left Sorenson scrambling, given that his Xtreme Motorsports team came to Daytona without a backup car.

Johnson led the second round with a lap at 201.925 mph, followed by Hamlin, McMurray and Gordon. All four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets advanced to the final round, as did all four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas.

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Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott winners at Phoenix

By Seth Livingstone, NASCAR Wire Service (AVONDALE, Ariz.) — Brad Keselowski took advantage of a late-race caution to edge Kyle Busch for a Nationwide Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway, but Chase Elliott was the day’s big winner at Saturday’s DAV 200 – Honoring America’s Veterans.

Elliott, the 18-year-old son of 1988 Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott, finished fifth to clinch the NASCAR Nationwide Series title, becoming the first rookie to accomplish the feat. The Elliott family joined the Pettys, Pearsons, Jarretts and Earnhardts in becoming families with father-son national touring series champions.

Elliott, who won races at Texas, Darlington and Chicagoland this season, did what he needed to, finishing ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who entered the race 48 points behind Elliott in the series standings and ran 10th.

Elliott said he wasn’t sure how to celebrate his series triumph. “I wasn’t sure if it was OK to do a burnout lap or not,” he said. “But I did one anyway because I was too excited not to.

“I never would have even believed this was in my future. At the beginning of this season I had only run a couple of truck races. I feel lot of this is just due to the group of guys I was able to work with. Those guys were bringing me super-fast cars every week.”

Elliott’s NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet did what Busch’s Toyota could not do — survive a green-white-checkered finish after Alex Bowman was slow on the track, bringing out a race-changing caution flag with slightly more than a lap to go.

To that point, Busch had been dominant, seemingly on his way to his eighth win in 25 starts this season by leading 187 of the race’s 206 laps.

But Keselowski had other ideas, swooping to the inside and driving past Busch in Turn 1 of the final lap to prevent Busch from winning his fourth consecutive Nationwide start at Phoenix.

“We didn’t give up,” Keselowski said. “Kyle was really fast – probably a 10th (of a second) or two faster than everybody. Then, that yellow came out and I really don’t know what happened. I think we grabbed a gear and he slipped.

“It was a little bit surreal. I really didn’t even know the race was over. We were low on gas in that whole (end-of-race) situation.”

Busch was similarly at a loss for words.

“The Monster Energy Camry was faster than everyone else – just not at the right time,” said Busch, who said he knew he was in trouble when Keselowski’s car “cut better than mine in Turns 3 and 4.

“I tried to let him go into (Turn) 1 and cut back underneath, but my (car) wouldn’t turn,” Busch said. “(Right there) his stuff doesn’t turn but it still turned better than ours ‘cuz he still got me.”

Neither Keselowski nor Busch are eligible for the series title because they are full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers.

For much of the race, Smith appeared primed to put his teammate’s title hopes on hold. But Smith struggled after leaving the pits with 29 laps to go after taking left side tires on a yellow-flag pit stop. Elliott leaped from ninth to sixth in the running order and held serve the rest of the way.

Busch took fresh tires during that same caution and restarted fifth. The strategy seemed to pay off as he easily got around Keselowski, Elliott Sadler and Bowman, each of whom elected to forego the pits on that final stop.

But Keselowski made it happen in the final two laps of his Nationwide Series campaign.

“We have a great team,” said Keselowski, who did not finish worse than fourth in any of his 10 Nationwide starts this season. “I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s been a phenomenal year and I’m going to remember this one for a long time.”

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kyle Busch
3. Elliott Sadler
4. Ty Dillon
5. Chase Elliott
6. Erik Jones
7. Brian Scott
8. Brendan Gaughan
9. Trevor Bayne
10. Regan Smith
11. Jeremy Clements
12. Chris Buescher
13. Kyle Larson
14. James Buescher
15. Dylan Kwasniewski
16. Mike Bliss
17. Alex Bowman
18. Blake Koch
19. Ryan Reed
20. Ryan Sieg
21. Dakoda Armstrong
22. Kelly Admiraal
23. John Wes Townley
24. Matt DiBenedetto
25. Chad Boat
26. Eric McClure
27. Jamie Dick
28. Joey Gase
29. Mackena Bell
30. J.J. Yeley
31. Derrike Cope
32. Landon Cassill
33. Tanner Berryhill
34. Jeff Green
35. Mike Wallace
36. Brennan Newberry
37. Morgan Shepherd
38. T.J. Bell
39. Carl Long
40. Jeffrey Earnhardt

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Busch Wins Nationwide Race at Texas to Set Up Weekend Sweep

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) FORT WORTH, Tex.—Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage may need a broom as well as a pair of six-guns in Victory Lane on Sunday, after Kyle Busch completed the second leg of a possible sweep by winning Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

In winning his seventh NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season, his seventh in 18 starts at Texas, the 70th of his career and the 100th NNS event for Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch led 116 of 200 laps in completing the second leg of a possible weekend sweep at the 1.5-mile speedway.

On Friday night, Busch took the checkered flag in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and on Sunday he’ll try to record the second weekend trifecta of his career in the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), the second event in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Busch beat polesitter Joey Logano to the finish line by 1.561 seconds in the 300-mile event. Logano could keep up with Busch in the short runs but began to lose ground as each fuel run progressed.

The combination of Busch’s long-run car and his migration to the high line at the high-banked speedway was too much for Logano to overcome. Busch saw his own Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr. run the top successfully in the Truck race on Friday and took the lesson to heart.

“That was just something we found today—actually (Friday) night a little, to be honest with you,” Busch said. “Bubba Wallace went up there and he was really fast as well, too, up there. I took a little bit from that and also what I learned in that race as well.

“I never got as high as Bubba did, but I got somewhat up there. Just put that to today and was able to use it to our advantage. It felt really good to run up there and be fast like that and have good speed. Hopefully, some of that comes in (on Sunday).

Busch will be trying to duplicate the feat he accomplished in August 2010 at Bristol, where he won races in Trucks, Nationwide and Cup.

“The opportunity for that tomorrow would be something special,” Busch said. “I’d cherish it as much as the first one… You don’t’ get very many opportunities to capitalize on all three.”

Ryan Blaney, Logano’s Team Penske teammate, finished third, followed by series leader Chase Elliott, who extended his margin in the standings to 48 points over 11th-place finisher Regan Smith. If he maintains that advantage after next Saturday’s race at Phoenix, Elliott will clinch the series championship in the next-to-last race of his rookie season.

Matt Kenseth came home fifth, with Brian Scott, Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick behind him. Elliott Sadler got credit for a ninth-place finish after turning his No. 11 Toyota over to relief driver Clint Bowyer under caution on Lap 9.

Bowyer had qualified the car, but Sadler started the race despite suffering from a severe bout of intestinal flu and accompanying nausea that had sidelined him for time trials.

With all the back-and-forth between Busch’s No. 54 Toyota and Logano’s No. 22 Ford, Logano was hoping for a late-race caution to set up a short run, but the race stayed green for the final 63 laps.

“Kyle and I had a heck of a race, that’s for sure,” Logano said. “We were able to catch up to him and pass him, but then after about 20 laps or so, it was like a light switch.

“The car would just switch to loose, and he would go by me and drive away. That’s what ultimately beat us, having a long run like that at the end.”

Hard luck continued to haunt Trevor Bayne, who had passed Logano for the lead on Lap 34, only to slam the Turn 2 wall 15 laps later.

As Bayne was rolling through the center of Turns 1 and 2, he cut to the inside to pass a lapped car. At that instant, the car apparently hit a piece of debris on the track, deflating the right front tire and sending Bayne’s No. 6 Ford rocketing into the outside wall.

The car burst into flames and continued through Turn 2 trailing a plume of fire behind it. Bayne escaped the inferno unhurt, but the car—one of his best of the year—was destroyed.

“It is never good to pop a right front tire, or whatever we did there,” Bayne said after leaving the infield care center. “Whether it was a line or tire—I think it was a tire—it’s never a good time, but especially not when you have the best car you have ever had in your career. That thing was on a rail. I have never had a car so dominant, especially at the Nationwide level.

“It was easy today for the time we were on the race track. The first couple laps I was really loose and needed a small adjustment, but, man, I think we had a great shot to win this race today. My guys have worked so hard all season long and they deserve a win and some cowboy hats here. I don’t even know what to say about it. It just blows your mind that something like that can happen on such a great day.”

1. Kyle Busch
2. Joey Logano
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Chase Elliott
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Brian Scott
7. Austin Dillon
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Elliott Sadler
10. Dakoda Armstrong
11. Regan Smith
12. Kyle Larson
13. Chris Buescher
14. Dylan Kwasniewski
15. Ty Dillon
16. Brendan Gaughan
17. Ryan Reed
18. Mike Bliss
19. Landon Cassill
20. JJ Yeley
21. Jeremy Clements
22. Kevin Swindell
23. John Wes Townley
24. James Buescher
25. David Starr
26. Eric McClure
27. Tanner Berryhill
28. Chad Boat
29. Robert Richardson Jr.
30. Jamie Dick
31. Matt DiBenedetto
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Ryan Sieg
34. Jeffrey Earnhardt
35. Martin Roy
36. Trevor Bayne
37. Joey Gase
38. Carlos Contreras
39. Blake Koch
40. Ryan Ellis

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Busch Breaks Jinx with NASCAR Nationwide Series Win at Kansas

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kyle Busch won the lottery on Saturday afternoon—the Kansas Lottery 300, to be precise.

But it must have seemed like a huge jackpot for the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, who won a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway for the first time since 2007.

“Whoo! We won at Kansas,” Busch radioed as he crossed the finish line, with as much relief as elation in his voice.

It took Busch 19 circuits after a restart on Lap 161 to catch and pass runner-up Kevin Harvick. On Lap 180, Busch ducked down to the apron near the start/finish line and powered past Harvick into the lead.

From that point, Busch pulled away for his sixth Nationwide Series victory of the season and the 69th of his career, extending his own series record.

The Kansas drought broken, Busch was already thinking about Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Contender Round. Never having scored a top-five in a Cup race at Kansas, Busch will start seventh on Sunday.

“You learn enough here—there was a bit of moving around today and trying to run bottom and trying to run top and seeing where the different lines were in traffic and stuff like that,” Busch said. “I feel like our Cup car is OK. If we can get out of here with a top-10 day tomorrow that would be pretty good.

“Great effort by (crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and all the guys on this 54 car—it was really awesome again today and should have won at Chicago just like we did here today. Missed out there, but we just keep doing things right, and you end up in Victory Lane, so you have to have it all match up for you.”

Harvick had winning chances because his crew chief, Ernie Cope, played a contrarian pit strategy to perfection and got some help from a timely caution. Harvick was the only lead-lap driver to bring his car to pit road under the seventh caution on Lap 91, and that put him in position to wait out a cycle of green-flag stops with roughly 60 laps left.

With all other lead-lap cars pitting between Laps 136 and 141, Harvick was the only car on the lead laps when Dakoda Armstrong’s spin brought out the eighth caution. Busch, who was leading before the cycle of stops began, got the free pass as the highest scored lapped car, and the rest of the lead-lappers took wave-arounds after Harvick pitted for fuel.

Harvick led the field to green on Lap 153 but couldn’t keep Busch at bay on longer runs.

“They gave us a good opportunity with strategy there, (but) the 54 was quite a bit better as we got going into the run,” Harvick said. “We could hold him off for a short run, but in the end his car would maintain speed, and ours would slow down.

“We just got beat there today, but that happens.”

The race dealt a crushing blow to Regan Smith’s championship hopes. Smith spun and backed into the wall during qualifying earlier in the day and was forced to start from the rear of the field in a backup car.

On Lap 140, the sway bar arm on Smith’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet broke, and he took the car behind the wall for repairs, losing seven laps in the process. Smith finished 22nd and fell 38 points behind teammate Chase Elliott in the series standings.

Ty Dillon, third in the championship battle, ran fifth Saturday and is 40 points behind Elliott, who finished 10th, with four races left in the season.

“Any time you have to roll a backup car out two hours before a race, you have to expect anything to happen,” said Smith, who just re-signed for another year with JR Motorsports’ Nationwide program. “My guys did a great job of getting the car ready to where we could get to the grid with it, much less be competitive for the first stage of the race.

“We fought with it. It’s kind of what we anticipated for the day and at this point – obviously disappointed. It’s been a long year.”

  1. (6) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 200, $75075.
  2. (4) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 200, $61900.
  3. (2) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 200, $53925.
  4. (8) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, 200, $34825.
  5. (1) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 200, $43450.
  6. (13) Matt Kenseth(i), Toyota, 200, $26200.
  7. (7) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 200, $30550.
  8. (11) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 200, $31550.
  9. (5) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 200, $28810.
  10. (12) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 200, $28800.
  11. (15) Dylan Kwasniewski #, Chevrolet, 199, $26975.
  12. (14) Ryan Reed #, Ford, 199, $26425.
  13. (10) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 199, $25875.
  14. (21) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 199, $25365.
  15. (23) David Starr, Toyota, 199, $25480.
  16. (27) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 198, $24695.
  17. (25) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 197, $24410.
  18. (22) JJ Yeley, Dodge, 197, $24150.
  19. (28) Eric McClure, Toyota, 195, $23940.
  20. (18) Ryan Sieg #, Chevrolet, 195, $24430.
  21. (16) James Buescher, Toyota, 194, $23820.
  22. (24) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 192, $24505.
  23. (32) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 192, $23370.
  24. (39) Jennifer Jo Cobb(i), Chevrolet, 188, $23260.
  25. (17) Dakoda Armstrong #, Ford, 185, $23625.
  26. (26) Corey LaJoie(i), Ford, 181, $23015.
  27. (36) Jamie Dick, Chevrolet, Accident, 152, $22905.
  28. (3) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 149, $23785.
  29. (31) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 93, $22635.
  30. (9) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 90, $16825.
  31. (20) John Wes Townley(i), Toyota, Accident, 73, $16370.
  32. (37) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Accident, 71, $22260.
  33. (40) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, Engine, 62, $16145.
  34. (19) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Engine, 61, $22034.
  35. (35) Carl Long, Chevrolet, Vibration, 35, $15897.
  36. (29) Blake Koch, Toyota, Vibration, 34, $14445.
  37. (30) Kevin Swindell, Dodge, Electrical, 13, $20325.
  38. (33) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Accident, 12, $20265.
  39. (38) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 8, $19940.
  40. (34) Milka Duno, Toyota, Accident, 3, $13830.