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Busch earns Nationwide win at Bristol

March 15th, 2014 7:44 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Busch earns Nationwide win at Bristol

BRISTOL — Kyle Busch continued to frustrate rivals at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday with his victory in the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300.

The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pulled away from Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick on the final restart for his third straight Nationwide Series win at Bristol and his record 65th in the series. 

Busch also added to Bristol track records with his seventh Nationwide victory and his 16th win in NASCAR’s three national series at the .533-mile oval.

“A couple of those guys got close,” Busch said. “(Matt) Kenseth, he was really strong. But I was able to bide my time through traffic a little better than he did and I passed him the same way he did to me earlier in the race.”

Busch took the lead away from Kenseth on lap 210 to lead the final 91 laps. Neither Larson or Harvick could mount much of a challenge in the closing laps as Busch raced to a winning margin of 1.441 seconds.

“I just tried to run hard since I know he (Larson) was running the top (of the track),” Busch said. “He loves the top and I knew he was going to be up there. It seemed like anybody who was behind me on the restart would be able to jump the two guys on the bottom. What we were able to accomplish today is pretty good.”

Larson, driving the No. 42 Chevrolet, made an aggressive move to the outside to take second place from Harvick. He finished second for a second straight year, although he wasn’t anywhere as close as the previous year when he lost to Busch by a fender.

“We started off the race a little too tight,” Larson said. “Restarts depended on what line you had. I started fourth on that last restart and got to second. I thought I could get to Kyle, but I got too high on turns one and two. I got rubber on my tires and I just had to hold off Kevin at that point.”

Larson laughed when asked what would have happened if he had gotten to Busch.

“I wasn’t going to be as nice as I was last year,” Larson said. 

Harvick, a five-time Bristol winner making a special appearance in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, believed he had a car fast enough to beat Busch. He blamed track position, especially starting on the inside of Busch on the final restart for his third-place finish.

“I felt like we had our car where we needed it to be,” Harvick said. “We were just stuck down there on the bottom. The bottom is not good. Everybody goes to the top and it becomes a parade.”

Ryan Blaney finished fourth in a Ford, and Kenseth rounded out the top five in a Toyota.

Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan were sixth and seventh in a pair of Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets. Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne finished eighth in a Ford. Chase Elliott and Regan Smith in a pair of JR Motorsports rounded out the top 10.

With his finish, Bayne closed within one point (151-150) of Smith for the lead in the Nationwide Series driver standings.

“It’s another top 10,” Bayne said. “It’s not what you want. You want to be running top five and contending for wins, but in the meantime we’re still gaining on the points leader.”

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