Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kyle Busch holds off Kyle Larson in Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300 at Bristol

Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Kyle Busch edged out Kyle Larson by .023 seconds to win the Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon. The finish was the second-closest in Nationwide history.

Busch starts his 11th season in Nationwide Series competition with two wins in four races. Returning to the JGR fold seems to agree with him. NNS regulars may owe NASCAR a heartfelt "thank you" this season that Busch can't collect points in anything other than the Sprint Cup series.

The No. 54 Monster Camry led the most laps - 156 - in a race that had only five lead changes among five drivers yet still managed to provide close competition and exciting racing. Polesitter Justin Allgaier, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Trevor Bayne all took turns at the front of the pack, but they didn't have an easy time of it. Brian Vickers, Brian Scott, Sam Hornish Jr. and Regan Smith all came close to the leader, showing just how strong the Nationwide roster is this season. Newcomer Travis Pastrana held his own, finishing 16th in his first visit to Bristol.

The real show came as the laps wound down and Rowdy showed his skill at the bullring, winding his way through lapped traffic with deceptive ease. On his heels, 20-year-old "Young Money" Larson in his Turner-Scott Motorsports Camaro, showed no fear in taking on the 27-year-old veteran.

Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images
The 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champ dogged Busch's bumper for the final 20 or so laps, generating speculation as to whether the rookie would attempt a replay of his winning move from the 2013 Whelen All-American UNOH Battle at the Beach, where he dumped leader C.E. Falk III to take the win. Larson caught a lot of heat for that move. In his post-race interview, Larson said that he didn't want to end the Nationwide race that way.

Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press asked Busch whether he thought about that race finish at all in the closing laps. "He played it smart today, that was good on his end. I think a lot of people are going to be looking at him to see if he's going to be a wrecker or a checker," Busch said.

Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
"I'm going to race him as hard as he raced me but as clean as he raced me because he didn't put a fender on me all day."

Perhaps not a fender, but Larson didn't hesitate to bang side-by-side across the finish line.

"I was definitely driving my butt off. He didn't mess up though, so I couldn't get to him. But it was a great race to the checkers," Larson said.


Vickers, Hornish Jr. and Harvick rounded out the top five. For full race results click here. 
Hornish Jr. retains the series points lead over Allgaier. For full points standings click here.

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