In a fitting end to the 2009 Nationwide Series season, Kyle Busch had two reasons to do a celebratory burnout.
After signing in and putting his car on the grid before Saturday's Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch clinched the Nationwide Series championship. That was a mere formality. Two hundred laps later, he crossed the finish line 0.482 seconds ahead of charging Carl Edwards to win his ninth race of the season and the 30th of his career.
Brad Keselowski, on the other hand, might have had reason to do a slow burn after Denny Hamlin escalated their ongoing rivalry by spinning Keselowski's #88 Chevrolet early in the race.
"It was a tough race, for sure," Busch said. "We weren't the best car here for a long time. All these guys made some great race calls - (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and everybody else. That's why we're a championship team. That's why we made it here tonight, because these guys can fight through stuff."
Two laps after a restart on lap 163, after pitting for new tyres, Busch passed Edwards for the lead and held it the rest of the way, despite a caution for Jason Leffler's contact with the wall on lap 184.
"We made some adjustments to the car that really brought it to life, and I was able to pass those guys on that restart and get up towards the front and lead those laps, and when that last caution came out, Carl did the exact same thing I just did."
Edwards came to the pits for tyres under caution on lap 186 and restarted eighth on lap 190. Despite a strong run into the third turn on the final lap, his bid for the win fell just short.
"I thought we were going to win the race on that last restart, but the #18 (Busch) was just too fast on those (old) tyres," Edwards said.
Jeff Burton finished third Saturday, followed by Joey Logano and Hamlin. David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Steve Wallace, Scott Speed and Matt Kenseth completed the top ten. Keselowski finished twelfth.
Saturday's race wrote a new chapter in the rivalry between Keselowski and Hamlin, who had dominated the headlines with their on-track and off-track shots last weekend at Phoenix. In the Nationwide race there, Keselowski repaid a tap from Hamlin by spinning his adversary.
Hamlin promised retaliation at Homestead, and made good on his threat on lap 34, sending Keselowski spinning down the frontstretch. NASCAR held Hamlin in the pits for one lap for rough driving, but Hamlin subsequently regained the lost circuit when NASCAR called a debris caution on lap 91.
Keselowski declined to exacerbate the friction between the drivers after the race.
"I don't hold any grudges, and I'm ready to move on," he said.
Hamlin, on the other hand, doesn't think the drivers are even yet.
"I feel great right now - it was well worth it," Hamlin said of the penalty. "…The scales are tipped a little bit more in my favor, but they're not tipped that much."
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News