Kyle Busch held off Kasey Kahne during a closing, 13-lap green-flag run to win Saturday’s History 300 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and continue his wholesale revision of NASCAR’s record books.
Busch beat Kahne to the finish line by .939 seconds to claim a record seventh NNS victory at Charlotte, breaking a tie with Mark Martin for supremacy at the speedway. In winning for the sixth time in nine starts this season, Busch extended his record for all-time NNS wins to 57.
Busch led 186 of 200 laps, a personal best on a 1.5-mile speedway.
Before the race started, Busch mentioned that he’d like to break the tie with Martin, Clearly, the record was on his mind.
“Every time you’re tied with somebody, you want to beat ‘em,” Busch said after the race. “But when you’re tied with the greats in this sport, like the Mark Martins or the Jack Ingrams, it makes it pretty special to beat those guys and the records they set at different tracks, whatever’s been done before.
“It’s never easy, but I felt like we had a good car, and we were in good position. I told (crew chief) Adam (Stevens), ‘If this track gets hot, these guys are in trouble,’ because they seem to slide around a little more than we do. I felt like our car was really good, so I’m proud of the fact that what I felt actually came true today.”
Joey Logano ran third, followed by rookie Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick. Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, Matt Kenseth, Parker Kligerman and series leader Regan Smith completed the top 10.
Kahne got to the bumper of Busch’s No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with eight laps left, but Busch adjusted his line and inched away.
“I got there and just didn’t get to his outside,” Kahne said. “I came close but didn’t get to him, and then he went to the top, and from that point I was a little bit on the tight side. I just wasn’t turning quite good enough…
“I couldn’t keep up. He kept good momentum on the top and was able to creep away a little bit. I thought we were close, and if he didn’t move up, I thought we would have had a really good shot.”
Busch, however, hadn’t run the top of the track all afternoon and wasn’t certain what would happen when he moved up.
“There towards the end, I did have to race hard with Kasey,” Busch said. “He was catching me a little bit on the outside think he was beating me down the straightaway, so I moved up to protect my momentum and do the same thing he was doing, and it seemed to help me. It seemed to allow me to drive away from him a little bit.
“I hadn’t been up there all day, so I was kind of worried about the fact that my car wouldn’t work up there, but it felt good, and it was certainly fast.”
Logano, who got the most out of his afternoon after an early flat tire, knows only too well how difficult it can be to beat Busch. Logano and Busch were teammates at JGR before Logano moved to Penske Racing this year.
“You have a great team there–guys I worked with for the last six years or so–so I know they’re a good team,” Logano said. “I know Kyle Busch is a good driver. Put all that together, and you’re going to have one heck of a deal trying to beat these guys. We’ve got to go back and work harder than them.”
With 50 laps left, Busch had a lead of 3.897 seconds over Sam Hornish Jr. immediately after a round of green-flag pit stops, but a caution on Lap 153 bunched the field for a restart on Lap 158.
Busch pulled away again, but caution flew again on Lap 165 when Travis Pastrana’s Ford spun off Turn 2 and plowed nose-first into the inside wall. Busch and Kahne were among eight drivers who stayed out under the yellow, but Harvick came to pit road for fresh tires, restarted 10th on Lap 173 and was up to fourth when Reed Sorenson’s spin caused caution No. 6 on Lap 178.
Despite the older rubber, Busch held the top spot after a restart with 17 laps left, but a collision between Michael Annett and Dakoda Armstrong on Lap 184 reset the field again, with Busch, Kahne, Harvick and Kligerman running first through fourth for a restart on Lap 188.
Notes: Smith added one point to his series lead over second-place Hornish, who finished 12th Saturday but led nine laps. The margin is 29 points… Annett finished 17th in his first race since the season opener at Daytona, where he was sidelined by an injury to his sternum… Busch recorded the 17th perfect driver rating of his NASCAR national series career. That was his second straight such performance, following a perfect 150-point rating May 10 at Darlington.