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)
|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|
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.