by Reid Spencer
Statistically, Kyle Busch is moving into rarefied air, and on Saturday his generosity went there, too.
With defending Nationwide Series champion Carl Edwards chasing him to the finish line in the 200-lap, 300-mile O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, Busch won his tenth Nationwide race of 2008, tying Sam Ard's 1983 series record for wins in a season.
Moments after climbing from his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Busch announced his intention to donate $100,000 to Ard, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and accompanying financial difficulties.
"Sam Ard is one of the pioneers of this sport," Busch said. "To be tied with him is very special. We're going to be sending $100,000 his way to help him out. Hopefully, that'll help put a smile on his face."
The win was the 21st of Busch's career, tying him for tenth on the all-time list with Dale Earnhardt and Harry Gant. It also was Busch's 21st victory this year in NASCAR's top three series combined. He has eight Sprint Cup wins along with three in the Craftsman Truck Series.
The unrivalled class of the field on Saturday, Busch led 174 laps. Edwards was closing fast on the final seven-lap green-flag run but ran out of time, finishing .253 seconds behind the winner. Edwards, however, gained 25 points on series leader Clint Bowyer, who finished sixth.
With two races left in the season - at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami - second-place Edwards trials Bowyer by 91 points.
Mark Martin ran third on Saturday, followed by Joey Logano, David Ragan and Bowyer. The #20 JGR Toyota, which has been driven by Busch, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Logano this season, leads the owners' standings by 54 points over the #2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driven exclusively by Bowyer.
Edwards took four tyres on his final pit stop on lap 181 to two for Busch and Martin. The move served Edwards well during the seven-lap run to the finish that followed a caution for Justin Allgaier's spin through the front-stretch grass on lap 189.
"Those four tyres were great," Edwards said. "Man, I needed about two more laps. There was no way we were going to catch Kyle on the same tyres he had.
"We closed 25 points today. We've just got to go to Phoenix and do more."
Unfortunately for Bowyer, the handling on his Chevy began to deteriorate after the final restart.
"We had a better car than (Edwards) did," Bowyer said. "We just got a little tight there at the end. That last caution really hurt us."