Date: Aug. 21, 2010
Event: Irwin Tools Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 19th/1st (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kyle Busch scored the elusive hat trick at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway by winning Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. The 25-year-old swept the slate of NASCAR races at the .533-mile oval, winning the Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night and the Nationwide Series race Friday night before wheeling his No. 18 Doublemint Toyota to victory in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.
“It means a lot,” said Busch after notching his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his fourth at Bristol. “I’m out of breath. I’ve been screaming the whole time. Normally, you take your time to get your breath back, but I used it all up. Man, I can’t say enough about this team, Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports earlier this week. This Doublemint Camry was awesome today. What a great racecar. It’s the second time we ran it this year, and the second race for Doublemint, and we won for them. Again, I can’t thank these guys enough. Flawless pit stops. These guys were awesome.”
Busch led four times for a race-high 282 laps in Saturday night’s race, and coupled with his victories in the Nationwide and Truck Series events, the Las Vegas native led 514 of a possible 956 circuits throughout the weekend.
“It’s pretty cool because when you come so close and then don’t get it, it’s pretty frustrating,” said Busch, who now has 78 victories across NASCAR’s top-three divisions (Sprint Cup – 19, Nationwide – 40, Camping World Truck – 19). “I mean, last year we won the Truck race and were leading the Nationwide race and we got crashed out, and then we ended up winning the Cup race. So this is probably a year delayed. I’m just real appreciative of what was able to happen tonight. It was pretty special, and I feel a lot about how this team has worked so much through the past few weeks to try to get ourselves back on track.
Coming to Bristol you could say, yeah, well, we’re supposed to run well here. But still, it’s cool to be able to put it all together in a complete weekend, with the Truck, with the Nationwide car and with the Cup car.”
Busch started 19th in the 500-lap race and it didn’t take him long to carve his way up through the field.
He was leading by lap 172 and was challenged during the midpoint of the race by Jimmie Johnson, David Reutimann and Jamie McMurray. Johnson crashed on lap 263 and then Reutimann and McMurray had nothing for Busch at the end. The Doublemint driver led the final 71 laps and beat Reutimann to the line by .677 of a second, while McMurray came home third.
“The pit stops tonight were flawless,” Busch said. “Jimmie beat us out one time just because of pit selection. Unfortunately, he had his troubles, but we were able to just get out there and kind of set sail. We had a really fast racecar. Coming through the field was fun. Passing in front of those guys and working traffic the way you had to work traffic and just kind of picking and choosing your way – do you go high, do you go low? You had to have a car that would really work anywhere.
“I was unsure going in about how good our car was going to be, but Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made some really good adjustments this morning and thought about it over the night to get us a good car for today. This Doublemint Camry was awesome, and it goes back to good teamwork.”
Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished 18th and 34th, respectively.
Clint Bowyer finished fourth and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 39 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish.
With 24 of 36 races in the books, Busch continues to lead the Joe Gibbs Racing trio in the championship point standings. His win bumped him up five spots to third place, where he has 3,170 points and is 351 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick. Hamlin dropped two spots to fifth and has 3,108 points, 413 points arrears Harvick. Logano remained 21stin the standings and has 2,636 points, 284 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who currently holds the final spot for the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will be decided in the next two races.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before returning to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Sept. 5 Emory Healthcare 500. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.