Eleven races without a win is an eternity for Kyle Busch, but the prolific Joe Gibbs Racing driver returned to victory lane decisively Friday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Six days removed from exiting car with what was later diagnosed as pneumonia, Busch led 137 of 200 laps to win the Dollar General 300 at the 1.5-mile track. With the victory, Busch expanded his lead in the Nationwide Series standings to 195 points over fifth-place finisher Carl Edwards with four races left in the season.
At the end of a 21-lap green-flag run to the finish, Busch crossed the stripe 1.712 seconds ahead of runner-up Mike Bliss. Dave Blaney ran third, followed by Brian Vickers and Edwards.
The victory was Busch's seventh in the series this season, his fifth at LMS and the 28th of his career.
"It's been a holding pattern," Busch said of his recent drought, which included a 90-point dent in his lead last Saturday at Fontana, Calif., when Busch was forced from the car because of illness, and relief driver Denny Hamlin was involved in a late-race wreck. "This thing was on a rail tonight. It was a great racecar. We had some points to make up."
LMS was the ideal venue for Busch's comeback.
"I love this place," he said. "It's my house on the Nationwide side. This is one of my favourite tracks. For some reason, I really gel with it. Man, it was a freight train for sure. There was not much that could have stopped this Toyota tonight."
Steve Wallace took a major hit in his race against rookie Justin Allgaier for the fifth position in the series standings, significant because only the top five take the stage at the postseason awards banquet in Florida.
Wallace was an innocent victim when David Gilliland took his #1 Chevrolet four-wide in the tri-oval on Lap 63, slid his left-side tyres on the infield grass and triggered a three-car incident that knocked Wallace's #66 Chevrolet into the outside wall.
"I got wrecked by a washed-up (Sprint) Cup driver, I guess," said Wallace, who returned to the track after repairs 88 laps down and finished 31st.
Allgaier tightened his hold on the fifth spot with a twelfth-place finish. He leads sixth-place Wallace by 109 points and seventh-place Bliss by 118.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News