Kurt Busch wins Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway

Kurt Busch talks to the media following his victory in the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway. (Matt Weaver/NASCAR Ranting and Raving)

Daytona Beach, Fla. - Remember when NASCAR suspended Kurt Busch for a race at Pocono and team owner James Finch debated keeping the driver in the car for the remainder of the season? His mentality at the time was that Busch, despite his immense talent, tore up too many race cars and didn't win enough to warrant keeping him in the car.

Finch decided upon giving Busch one more chance and his decision paid off on Friday night, as Busch won the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

It was really the perfect scenario for Busch, who needed something special after his one-week suspension. He's still on probation for the rest of the year, and couldn't quite close out a win in the Cup Series at Sonoma. His recent success, clean race cars, and improved media relations may have saved his career.

With Matt Kenseth likely moving over to Joe Gibbs Racing, and the recent shakeup at Dodge, it will be interesting to see where Busch lands once silly season ramps up a few more weeks. Rather than waiting for the market to come to him, it appears as if Busch is taking a proactive approach and reminding NASCAR owners that he's still a former Sprint Cup Series champion.

"This was definitely a great win," Busch said. "But tomorrow is the big show, and Cup is where we've got to do it. But any time you win for James Finch, knowing the amount of effort these guys put into the race car, it's big for them. I don't care about me right now. I only care about Finch Racing right now."

The win is Busch's second in the Nationwide Series this season, but his first with James Finch. Kurt won for his brother at Richmond in April.

Thoughts on the pace and excitement of Friday night's race plus a complete running order can be found after the jump.

This is really the perfect formula for speedway restrictor plate racing. The tandem up front, combined with the large pack in the middle, not to mention the shorter race length really makes this must-see television. Sure, the race fell apart at the end even professionals can only contain the intensity for so long.

But just in case there was any debate about where NASCAR drivers stand in the ranking of world's greatest race car drivers, I would direct you of the action on lap 15 when Danica Patrick took the leaders four-wide and emerged with the lead half-a-lap later. The four drivers held their position, four-abreast and made it stick. What happened later notwithstanding, the Nationwide roster has to be commended.

And the numbers agree. Friday's race had the most Daytona Nationwide Series lead changes with 42 by 16 different drivers -- breaking the record of 38 by 16 set in February of this year.

But there's a dark side of restrictor plate racing too, as two different accidents changed the complexion of the race.

Mike Wallace and Kevin Harvick triggered the first major accident when the two ‘swapped' while leading and allowed the pack to quickly catch the pair. Wallace came down on James Buescher and they slid up the track and collected 13 other cars.

Contenders involved included Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, and Joe Nemechek.

"I came down and the 30 was there and I guess I caused a wreck," Wallace said. "I didn't mean to. This is what you have to do, switch, with the oil and water temperatures what they are. This is fun racing but it's also hard racing. I guess we just made a mistake."

The accident appeared to set the race up for Danica Patrick, who led several times for 17 laps, but was caught up in the lap 84 accident when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. appeared to make contact with Jeffrey Earnhardt, causing Patrick to slide to the apron to avoid contact. The sudden move caused her to lose control and pancake the turn four inside retaining wall.

This was ironically the same wall she became quite familiar with in February.

"It's just really frustrating when I have as fast as a car as I did," Patrick said. "I know Tony (Eury, crew chief) Jr. is frustrated. I know he expected to see it in Victory Lane and I did, too - especially after the big accident in (Turns) 1 and 2, I thought, ‘This job got a little easier."


Final Laps: Checkers or wreckers for Kurt Busch, Austin D... (via TheOfficialNASCAR)

Big One strikes as 16 cars collected in sizeable wreck (via TheOfficialNASCAR)

Race Results
Daytona International Speedway
11th Annual Subway Jalapeno 250
UNOFFICIAL Provided by NASCAR Statistics Friday, 7/6/2012 @ 10:22 PM Eastern UNOFFICIAL
Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts BPts Status TLd LLd
1 5 1 Kurt Busch(i) HendrickCars.com Chevrolet 101 0 Running 6 23
2 1 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. NOS Energy Drink Ford 101 42 Running
3 17 43 Michael Annett Pilot / Flying J Ford 101 41 Running
4 42 3 Austin Dillon # Bass Pro Shops / NRA Museum Chevrolet 101 41 1 Running 4 8
5 8 18 Joey Logano(i) SportClips Toyota 101 0 Running 6 12
6 13 2 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Chevrolet 101 39 1 Running 3 10
7 21 31 Justin Allgaier Brandt Chevrolet 101 38 1 Running 3 7
8 15 44 Mike Bliss BANDITchippers.com Toyota 101 36 Running
9 37 41 Timmy Hill Poynt.com Chevrolet 101 35 Running
10 16 12 Sam Hornish Jr. Wurth Dodge 101 35 1 Running 2 6
11 33 51 Jeremy Clements Curry'sRoofing/USSJamesEWilliamsDDG95 Chev 101 34 1 Running 2 2
12 11 70 Johanna Long # WishForOurHeroes.org Chevrolet 101 32 Running
13 28 4 Danny Efland TradeBank Chevrolet 101 31 Running
14 29 81 Jason Bowles # American Majority Toyota 101 30 Running
15 22 19 Tayler Malsam G-Oil / Noah's Light Foundation Toyota 101 29 Running
16 27 39 Josh Richards JOY Ford 101 28 Running
17 34 23 Robert Richardson Jr. North Texas Pipe Chevrolet 101 27 Running
18 26 14 Eric McClure Hefty / Reynolds Wrap Toyota 101 26 Running
19 31 82 Blake Koch SilverSaver.com Dodge 101 25 Running
20 32 08 Bryan Silas(i) Randy Hill Racing Ford 100 0 Running
21 41 40 Erik Darnell Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 99 23 Running
22 25 87 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy / D.A.B. / TSA Toyota 97 23 1 Running 2 5
23 20 54 Kyle Busch(i) Monster Energy Toyota 94 0 Running 1 3
24 19 38 Brad Sweet # Great Clips Chevrolet 93 20 Running
25 18 99 John Wes Townley(i) Barberitos Toyota 89 0 Running
26 12 20 Clint Bowyer(i) Dollar General Toyota 86 0 Running 1 1
27 24 24 Casey Roderick # West Virginia Miners Baseball Toyota 84 17 Running
28 4 33 Kevin Harvick(i) Rheem / Menards Chevrolet 84 0 Accident 1 2
29 2 88 Cole Whitt # Degree MEN / Winn-Dixie Chevrolet 83 16 1 Running 1 3
30 30 15 Jeffrey Earnhardt TobaccoFreeFlorida.com / Nuts Off Ford 82 14 Accident
31 3 7 Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com/NASCARUnites Chevrolet 82 14 1 Accident 5 13
32 9 11 Brian Scott Dollar General Toyota 82 12 Running
33 10 36 Bobby Santos III Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 80 11 Accident
34 14 30 James Buescher(i) Ron Jon Surf Shop / Quiksilver Chevrolet 71 0 Accident 1 1
35 6 22 Brad Keselowski(i) Discount Tire Dodge 66 0 Accident 2 2
36 7 01 Mike Wallace G&K Services Chevrolet 65 9 1 Accident 2 3
37 40 52 Joey Gase # My Three Sons Vending Chevrolet 50 7 Overheating
38 36 74 Mike Harmon Koma Unwind Relaxation Drink Chevrolet 31 6 Overheating
39 35 50 TJ Bell Hantz Bank / Gulfcoast Loss Prevention Chevrolet 22 5 Engine
40 43 46 Chase Miller TheMotorsportsGroup.com Chevrolet 5 4 Vibration
41 39 42 Josh Wise(i) Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 4 0 Transmission
42 38 47 Stephen Leicht(i) Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 3 0 Overheating
43 23 10 Jeff Green TriStar Motorsports Toyota 3 1 Overheating
# = Rookie, Fin = Finish, Str = Start, Pts = Total Points, BPs = Lap Leader Bns Pts, TLd = Times Led, LLd = Laps Led. (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Average Speed: 132.045 MPH Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 54 Mins, 44 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.054 Seconds
Lead Changes: 42 among 16 drivers Cautions: 6 for 24 laps

Kenseth wins Coke Zero 400 pole

Sprint Cup Series qualifying was also held today and saw Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth capture the pole for Saturday's Coke Zero 400. That's potentially bad news for the field as Kenseth is the championship leader, a notoriously slow qualifier, and captured the top-spot without the aid of his Daytona 500 winning car, which is currently held in the Speedway's museum.

But that wasn't the top story as Tony Stewart's car failed post-qualifying technical inspection. The infraction was an open cooling hose going into the cockpit, the same penalty that Austin Dillon's Nationwide Series car committed after qualifying for that race.

Tony Stewart will start Saturday night's race in 42nd and no further penalty will be announced until early next week.

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