Kyle Busch was perfect Saturday but he missed one record.
Busch led 186 of 200 laps to win his sixth NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season, scoring a perfect driver rating. Despite his dominance, he did not set a record for most laps led in this race. Dale Earnhardt led 194 of the 200 laps in 1986. Busch’s win, though, was his seventh series victory at Charlotte, breaking a tie with Mark Martin for most Nationwide wins at the track.
Other than not breaking Earnhardt’s record, there was little Busch didn’t do Saturday. He held off Kasey Kahne late, as Kahne gave JR Motorsports a second-place finish. Joey Logano placed third with rookie Kyle Larson fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.
Busch benefitted from two cautions in the last 25 laps. He was among eight drivers who did not pit 31 laps from the finish. It proved to be the right call.
“They really didn’t get an opportunity to run a long run,’’ Busch said after his 57th career Nationwide victory of those who pitted for tires late. “I felt like that was going to be where the guys showcase their tire, not necessarily the short run.
“It seemed like our car would fire off and run some fast laps but how long could I hold those fast lap times and keep those guys at bay behind me that had fresher tires? Too many cautions came into play at the end of the race. They never had an opportunity to get themselves sorted out and go down and chase the guy in front of them and ultimately see if they couldn’t catch me.’’
Those restarts, though, did pit Busch against Kahne on the double-file restarts. Three times this season in the Cup series they’ve had incidents running at or near the front. They had no problems Saturday.
“It really doesn’t mean anything to me because this is how we’ve always been in the past,’’ Kahne said of racing Busch. “We just had three deals this year that none of them were intentional, they just happened. Today we raced like I would expect any other time.’’
Kahne was more excited about the nearly giving JR Motosrports a win.
“It’s been a while since I won a Nationwide race and I feel like JR Motorsports is putting a big effort in,’’ he said. “If I can do anything to help I’m trying. These guys are building nice cars and it showed today.’’
Kahne’s teammate, Regan Smith, finished 10th and remains the points leader. He has a 29-point lead on Sam Hornish Jr., who finished 12th Saturday, heading into next weekend’s race at Dover.
Michael Annett, making his first start since suffering a fractured and dislocated sternum at Daytona in February, finished an eventful 17th.
“I think we covered everything I missed in eight races in one race, speeding penalty, getting hit in the left rear up to the wall, coming in and fixing damage, wrecking somebody on the backstretch,’’ he said, referring to a late incident with Dakoda Armstrong. “We don’t like finishing 17th but for the first race back it was good to get the vocabulary back between everybody.’’