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Busch Dominates Darlington For 56th Nationwide Win

Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates after performing a burnout following his win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 10, 2013 in Darlington, South Carolina. [1]Kyle Busch kept it simple Friday night at Darlington Raceway.

The strategy was basic—win the pole, stay out front and win the race with the strongest car, and Busch did an admirable job in every category. He dusted the rest of the field at the venerable track in the South Carolina sandhills, pulling away to win the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 by .935 over Elliott Sadler, who recovered from an early spin to finish second.

Brian Vickers came home third, followed by Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. With cars in first, second, third and fifth, Joe Gibbs Racing became the first organization to place four cars in the top five of a Nationwide Series race.

Rookie Kyle Larson ran sixth, followed by Regan Smith, who extended his series lead by 28 points over eighth-place finisher Sam Hornish Jr.

The victory was Busch’s fifth in eight NNS starts this season. Busch, who led 107 of 147 laps, extended his career win record in the series to 56. Busch scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, his 16th perfect rating since NASCAR started keeping the statistic in 2005.

Busch won the race on a track that has started to regain the abrasive characteristic of the racing surface that was a hallmark of the Darlington before a repaving project in 2008. Realizing that, Busch insisted on a four-tire stop on lap 121, even though his tires were only eight laps old, and that move helped win the race.

Busch also was able to pull away from his rivals trough Turns 1 and 2, the wider end of the egg-shaped track.

“You want to be good at both ends here, but there’s a lot of speed in 1 and 2, so you’re going to have to take advantage of that as best you can,” Busch said. “Three and 4 is an end where—I’m not going to say slower is faster—but maintaining a minimum speed is faster down there.

“But it seems like it’s a little easier to do than not having a good-handling car in 1 and 2. There’s a littler margin of error in Turn 1 and 2.”

Sadler found that out the hard way when he spun in that corner while trying to keep up with Busch. Sadler explained that he simply misjudged the corner and got loose.

“I was pushing it, trying to keep up with the 54 (Busch),” Sadler said. “I wanted to get up there and try to lead some laps and just went in there too hard and got loose and had to make a decision whether to spin out or try to correct it, and I overcorrected and spun out.

“Lady Luck helped me from not hitting anything.”

About the only thing that could slow Busch’s progress was an issue on pit road. Busch came out sixth after a slow stop on Lap 51 under yellow for Sadler’s spin.

Charging forward after the restart, Busch was on Kenseth’s bumper, challenging for the lead by the time the race reached Lap 74, just past halfway.

For the next eight laps, Busch hounded Kenseth, finally clearing his teammate for the lead on Lap 82. Busch held the top spot until a caution on Lap 119 for Kyle Fowler’s wreck changed the running order again.

Logano and Austin Dillon stayed out on old tires and led the field to a Lap 125 restart. Sadler restarted third after a two-tire stop, while Busch took the green in fourth on four fresh tires.

Busch made short work of the drivers on older rubber and passed Logano for the lead on Lap 130. Game over.