Carl Edwards passed Kyle Busch with 22 laps to go in Saturday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series Kroger 200 and went on to win the race at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
Edwards had the dominant car, despite starting from the rear of the field because he missed qualifying to participate in a practice session for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Edwards led twice for 72 of the race's 200 laps, but lost the lead with 30 laps to go under caution. The #60 Ford was pinned behind Scott Wimmer's Chevrolet in the pits, and Edwards mistakenly put his car in the wrong gear. Busch then led coming to the green flag on lap 174, but Edwards battled him hard and finally made the pass for the lead on Lap 179.
“While I was searching for gears, Kyle got ahead of us,” he said, “The #18 car had a good stop, and then the race was on. It was a pretty good battle, and a lot of fun. That was hard, hard racing, but it meant a lot to get the win here. This is a very special race for me.”
Busch finished second, the eighth consecutive race he has finished first or second, one off Jack Ingram's series record set in 1983.
“It was a tough, hard-fought battle,” Busch echoed in reflection of his race with Edwards, “We had what we had and we gave it all we could and we came up short. He was better than us all night, and he proved it driving by us on the run before and just getting to my inside all of the time. If my car was as good as his, I should've been able to stay ahead of him or drive away.”
Busch lost ten points off his championship lead, and is now 192 points ahead of second-place Edwards with 15 races remaining. Matt Kenseth was third as full-time Cup competitors swept the top-three positions ahead of Brad Keselowski and Steve Wallace. Ron Hornaday Jr, who won Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race at ORP, finished sixth, with polesitter Trevor Bayne, Jason Leffler, Wimmer and Kenny Wallace completing the top ten.
Bayne and Steve Wallace, while running 1-2, were involved in a bizarre accident on lap 36 after Michael Annett crashed in turn three. As Bayne and Wallace took the yellow flag and slowed into turn one, the pace car hit the track in the middle of the corner. Bayne slowed to stay behind the caution car, but Wallace rammed him from the rear, spinning out both cars. NASCAR ruled that, since they didn't maintain caution speed, they took their positions from where they blended in.
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service