Kyle Busch has picked up right where he left off in 2008, as the driver of the #18 Z-Line Designs/Fryes.com Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) scored his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season on Saturday night in the Stater Bros. 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Busch, who won a record-tying ten Nationwide Series races in 2008, including the series' previous visit to Fontana last August, powered to his 22nd career Nationwide Series victory by leading three times for a race-high 143 laps. He beat runner-up Kevin Harvick to the finish by 1.011 seconds, just hours after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the same track and in equally dominating fashion.
“This is awesome, and to win here twice in one day is even more special,” said Busch, who now has five wins across NASCAR's top three series at Fontana – two in the Nationwide Series, two in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I wouldn't be able to do it without all these guys and the help of Z-Line Designs. I love driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. This Toyota Camry was just flawless and I can't thank them enough.”
After leading all but five laps in the 100-lap Camping World Truck Series race, Busch left just seven laps available for other drivers to take to the front in the 150-lap Nationwide Series race. He gave up the top spot only when his Z-Line Designs/Frys.com Toyota needed fuel and fresh tyres.
Busch's victory marked the third straight win for sponsor Z-Line Designs at Fontana, as the California-based concern went to victory lane in both Nationwide Series races at the two-mile oval in 2008 – in February with former JGR driver Tony Stewart and again in August with Busch.
“We have our work cut out for us tomorrow,” said Busch, who is running the full 35-race Nationwide Series schedule in 2009 along with the entire 36-race Sprint Cup schedule, where round two takes place on Sunday with the Auto Club 500.
“It would be awesome to sweep the weekend. That'd be pretty sweet, and it's something I haven't been able to do yet. We're certainly looking forward to completing that task – but there are a lot of guys who are pretty strong, so we'll see if we can get a top five at least.”
Thanks to the win and a second-place finish in the season-opening Nationwide Series race last Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, Busch now leads the Nationwide Series championship standings by 20 points over second-placed Carl Edwards.
Finishing third behind Harvick was Busch's JGR teammate Joey Logano, while Roush Fenway stable-mates Edwards and David Ragan rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers, Brendan Gaughan and Steve Wallace comprised the remainder of the top ten. There were four caution periods for 23 laps, with ten drivers failing to finish the 300-mile race.
The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on 28 February, and the event will mark a return to Busch's hometown, as the 23-year-old grew up in Las Vegas. The 2002 honours graduate from Durango High School will again pilot the #18 Z-Line Designs Toyota, where he'll look for his first win of any kind at the 1.5-mile oval.