CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Busch has shown repeatedly he can win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the Nationwide and Truck series. The question remains whether he can capture that elusive first Sprint Cup victory.
Busch dominated Saturday, racing to his sixth Nationwide Series victory of the season and record seventh career win at the 1.5-mile track. He also was Truck Series winner at the track last week, his fifth victory in that circuit at Charlotte.
On Sunday, he looks to make it a clean sweep of all three series events with a win in the Coca-Cola 600. Busch has finished in the top eight in 10 of the last 11 Sprint Cup races at CMS but has never won — a clear source of frustration.
“Definitely” Busch said. “I have been close here so many years. Two years ago at the fall race I led a ton of laps and then Matt Kenseth passed me with like eight laps to go. I’ve certainly had some devastating moments here at this race track.”
He thinks he has a “top five” car for Sunday.
There was no doubt he had the top car Saturday.
Ten years and a day after his Nationwide debut, Busch won for the record 57th time in the series.
And he did it in dominating fashion.
Busch started on the front row and led 186 of the 200 laps. That’s the most laps led at this race since Dale Earnhardt led 194 in 1986.
Busch managed several late restarts to break a tie with Mark Martin for the most Nationwide victories at the track.
“Mark is really, really good in the Nationwide series and there’s a lot of things I’m beating him at, which is cool,” Busch said. “This is cool for us and great for this team. It’s fun to come to Charlotte. It’s my favorite track.”
With 13 laps to go Busch beat Kasey Kahne off the restart and was never challenged the rest of the way with the clean air helping him cruise to the finish line.
“I got to the outside and just didn’t get the run,” Kahne said of the final restart. “It was over at that point. Kyle Busch is tough to beat in this series.”
Busch actually stole a page from Kahne’s book late in the race, noticing his primary competitor had found success — and was gaining ground on him — when he moved up to the top of the track.
“I hadn’t been up there all day, so it was a little scary,” Busch said.
Once Busch made the move his lead began to expand over Kahne.
Four of the top five finishers were Sprint Cup drivers as Kahne was second, followed by Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick.
“We have to find a way to beat that Kyle Busch guy, but he’s pretty good,” Logano said.
Nationwide Series points leader Regan Smith was 10th.
Former X Games star Travis Pastrana endured a scary moment late in the race when the back of his No. 60 Ford hit the outside and spun across the track and hit the infield wall head-on.
But Pastrana was able to get out of his car and walk away. He said he felt fine, a testament to some of the safety measures NASCAR has installed over the years.
“I was fighting for that lucky dog spot,” Pastrana said. “But our car was free at the beginning of the run.”
Michael Annett, racing for the first time since his crash at Daytona in February, finished 17th.