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Kyle Busch Sweeps the First Night Races at Chicagoland Speedway in 2008
Photos By Dan Peters
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Busch Completes Birthday Double At Richmond
Kyle Busch celebrated his 24th birthday in the best possible fashion, winning Saturday night’s Crown Royal Russ Friedman 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway and completing a weekend sweep of NASCAR events there.
Busch and Cale Yarborough are the only drivers to win NASCAR Sprint Cup races on their birthdays.
In a race that featured a record-tying 15 cautions, Busch, who had won Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the .75-mile short track, passed Jeff Gordon for the lead on Lap 352, powering to the outside after a restart on Lap 351. Busch got to the finish line almost 3 seconds ahead of Tony Stewart to win his third NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season and the 15th of his career.
Jeff Burton survived a medley of wrecks to finish third. Ryan Newman came home fourth and Mark Martin fifth. Sam Hornish Jr., Jamie McMurray, Gordon, Casey Mears and Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top 10.
Kyle Busch celebrates winning the Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond International Raceway. It was Busch's 24th career series victory and third in 2009.
Kyle Busch won his third NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race this season Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.
Busch earned his 24th career NNS victory the day before his 24th birthday.
Busch continues to lead the NNS point standings with 1,414 points and is currently 82 points ahead of second-place Carl Edwards.
What got you through to victory lane?
"Perseverance man, you've just got to keep digging. I really want to thank all these guys on this team. They do a phenomenal job week in and week out. I've just really got to thank NOS and Z-Line and the fans, Toyota, Marquis Jets, Gillette, DirecTV --everybody that makes this program possible for us. All of the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing -- everybody from the fab shop to the cleanup crew to everybody that works so hard to really make it fun. I've got to thank J.D. and Joe (Gibbs) and those guys. I don't know what else to say, man, this is pretty fun here at Richmond. I love winning here. This is one of Denny's (Hamlin) favorite places, too. He always wins here so it's a hometown for him and unfortunately we didn't have another Nationwide car for him to run tonight so we had to make sure we won in his hometown."
Do you feel comfortable with your lead in the championship point standings?
"Yeah, Nationwide is great, but we've got to win the championship -- we want to win the championship here of course, too. We want to win both of them, too. To come out of here with the Sprint Cup title would be awesome. We' re championship-form --we've just got to keep digging. We can't falter like I did in the beginning of the year and like the team did in the beginning of the year. Smooth nights like tonight where nothing goes wrong is kind of picture perfect and scripted."
Did your crew need to make a lot of adjustments today?
"These guys really earned their money today. They work awful hard in practice. We made a lot of changes to it. It looked like the 33 (Kevin Harvick) team next to us was on vacation, they really weren't doing anything. We kept thrashing. We chased the track a lot and then we started the race too tight and we loosened it up and it really came to life. I didn't think anybody had anything for the 1 (Mike Bliss) car. It was pretty stout tonight, but it felt like Carl (Edwards) was really good on the long run
too, but we had the best car when it mattered the most at the end."
Did you learn things from tonight for tomorrow's Sprint Cup race?
"Some of the adjustments we did today we'll use for tomorrow. Some air pressure stuff and some wedge and track bar stuff, but other than that they're a lot different, but you can learn some tendencies tonight that will translate into tomorrow and the way that you drive them."
Can you talk about the last pass to take the lead?
"It was on a restart there. He (Carl Edwards) didn't come up through the gears very well for some reason. I faked low and went to the outside and just drove around him on the high-side. He gave me the space and I gave him some space so we could race clean and we made it around him and that was pretty much it."
Do you feel like tonight's win gets you back on track?
"Yeah, it does. It's felt like forever. (Jeff) Dickerson (spotter, manager) were talking about that. We've gone four or five weeks in a row of 17th or worse in the Cup Series and it's just frustrating. We've had runs that have been better than that, we've just taken ourselves out of the running toward the end of the race. I feel like tonight was a good night to get back on track. We won last night and that was cool. It was a fun race. Tonight was a race that mattered and we had our biggest challenger behind us in Carl(Edwards) to beat him out straight up. We had some other issues that we fought through tonight with the car, but we got it all squared away and handled before the end of the race so that was nice."
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 NOS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your thoughts on the win tonight?
"There at the beginning we were too tight. You show up here, the track is green and you're too free so you tighten it, tighten it and tighten it and then you start the race and you have to free it, free it, free it. Same old deal that we always fight at Richmond, but the tough part about this race track is trying to get the center to turn without getting the entry free or the exit too free. I think that was one of the areas tonight where we were good on drive off. I think that was one of the areas where we beat the 60 (Carl Edwards) car. It seemed like Kyle (Busch) could get back to the gas and drive up off the corner and maintain a little better than the 60, but the 60 was rolling the center a little better than us. It was back and forth all night with adjustments, trying to keep the center turning without hurting our entry and exit. We were good on the short run and obviously that's what won the race for us tonight. Typically, we're good on the long run and somebody else is good on the short run, but finally we got a car that was good on the short run when we needed it."
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