Kyle Busch has a seemingly insurmountable 212-point lead over Carl Edwards with 13 races remaining in the Nationwide Series, but it doesn't feel safe going into Saturday's Carfax 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
Busch, riding a series-record-breaking streak of ten consecutive first- or second-place finishes (three wins), knows Edwards is capable of cutting into his big advantage, particularly at Michigan. Edwards won this race a year ago, and he also has two victories in the past five Sprint Cup races at the two-mile track.
“We need to be at our best this week because Carl has been pretty good there and we need to keep finishing ahead of him to keep our points lead strong,” Busch said.
Busch has a good Nationwide record at MIS, too. He won in his first start there in 2004 and was 14th in 2006 in his most recent start.
“Michigan is a fun place to race, and I'm happy to get a shot in a JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) car there for the first time,” Busch said. “It's wide-open, and it should be fun with the double-file restart rule in place, based off of the Sprint Cup race (in June).”
Busch's first of six wins this season was at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., a sister two-mile track with slightly less banking.
“It's important that we make this car as comfortable as we can and find grip since a good-handling car goes a long way there,” Busch said. “We won the race at California earlier this year, so I'm hoping we can do the same at Michigan.”
Busch has eight second-place finishes this season and they bring mixed emotions.
“When you finish second a couple times in the year it's fine and when you win a couple times, it's good too, but when you have eight second-place finishes and there's only one more guy you got to beat that day and you didn't get it done ... ultimately, you finish second. Your team wants to win, you want to win. If we could have won those races, then we would have broke another record, which is the most wins in a season.”
Busch and Sam Ard hold the single-season record of ten. With a third of the season remaining, grabbing sole possession of the record doesn't seem out of Busch's reach. Ard won ten in 1983, Busch last year.
Edwards, the 2007 Nationwide champion, was 180 points behind Clint Bowyer with 13 races left last year. He made a determined run but finished second in the championship to Bowyer by 21 points. Edwards has won two of the past eight races and has been sixth or better in the other six and still steadily lost points to Busch.
by Tim Tuttle and Bill Marx/Sporting News