NASCAR » 13 August 2011
Nationwide: Busch Brothers dominate the Glen
If your name wasn't Busch, then you weren't going to be leading a lap during this Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen, with Kurt coming out top at the chequered flag.
The 'Zippo 200 at the Glen' Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International started with a front row consisting of Busch brothers, and pretty much the rest of the race was a similar tale of the two brothers.
Kurt Busch had claimed pole position for the race on Saturday morning despite being a late midweek replacement in the car for his Penske team mate Brad Keselowski, who is still suffering from his testing accident at Road Atlanta the previous week. It's Kurt's third Nationwide pole in 12 starts, his first since 2007 - and all three have come at the Glen.
Kurt found himself joined at the front heading to the chequered flag by his younger brother Kyle, not exactly known as a road course specialist although he'd also claimed pole position in the Sprint Cup race at the Glen so he was definitely a force to contend with.
Kurt was able to convert pole to the initial race lead and maintained the position for the first eight laps. Kyle was looking the faster car however and on lap nine he got past the #22 through the inner loop, only to then cut onto the rumble strips through turn 1 which gave Kurt the opportunity to immediately retake the lead. Worse, an off-track excursion left him with a grille clogged with grass and on lap 18 he was forced into pit lane with an overheating engine and steam pouring out of the car.
The team cleaned up the #18 and put him back out with a full tank of fuel and an alternate strategy: to try and make it the rest of the 82 scheduled 2.45-mile laps on just one more pit stop. But it was pushing feasibility to think it was going to work and some caution laps were very much required - and absolutely, definitely no green-white-chequered flags extending the end of the race.
Kyle got lucky with the first part - a yellow flag on lap 25 when Eric McLure came to a halt on track through the esses, which came just after everyone else had cycled through for green flag pit stops. That meant that Kyle was now back out in front on his off-sync strategy, followed by Kurt, Ron Fellows, Carl Edwards and Elliott Sadler at the restart.
Kyle stayed in front, pulling away from Kurt and Carl, until lap 50 when he came in for what he hoped would be his final pit stop of the day. He'd done a good job, with the rest of the field starting to come in almost immediately afterwards with brother Kurt only lasting until lap 55 before surrendering back the lead to Kyle for his own stop. But the crew of the #18 - led by crew chief Jason Ratcliff - were under no illusions that those five laps were crucial, the difference between making it and potentially not.
They still needed cautions, and this time none materialised, even when Mike Wallace spun at the entrance to the final turn on lap 75. By lap 78 it was clear that even having leaned off as much as possible and allowed Kurt, Carl Edwards, Ron Fellows and the rest of the field to close right up to him, there was no chance of making it those final four laps and his fuel pressure started to fail.
"We were running hard together," Kurt said of his battle with his brother. "It wasn't to force him to run out of fuel. I wanted to race him as fair and square as you can, but we knew that they were short."
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