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Busch = Win, Again
All Photos by Steve Burzynski, Bronco's Pitstop.
All Photos by Steve Burzynski, Bronco's Pitstop.
July 27th 2008 - By:   Mark Theisen

     CLEREMONT, INDIANA July 26, 2008:     On Tuesday of this week NASCAR issued an engine rule changed aimed at slowing the dominate Toyota race teams competing in the Nationwide series after winning 14 races already this season.  That rule required the addition a restrictor plate that would “rob” the engine of 15 horsepower and hopefully even the competitive field in the series.
    
After tonight’s race and the total domination of Kyle Busch’s Toyota NASCAR may have to re-calculate their formula.
    
Busch, who has been the hottest driver this season or perhaps ever, set a new modern NASCAR era record by winning for the 15th time this season, 6 alone in the Nationwide series by leading 197 of tonight’s 200 lap Kroger 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park as Kroger Speed Fest 2008 came to an end.
   
In addition to Busch’s record his team, Joe Gibbs Racing, won for the 14th time in the Nationwide series which is also a new record eclipsing the 13 wins for Richard Childress in 2006.   Busch’s win was Toyota’s 15 this year.
    
Busch gave early indication that he would have to be dealt with by qualifying 2nd and would claim that the 15horse power cost him the pole with Colin Braun putting his Ford on the pole with an average of 108.140 versus Busch’s 107.848.
    
In the race it was Busch surging the lead over Braun on the first lap depriving the pole winner of leading the first lap. 
    
From the outset smoke began to billow from the rear of defending series champion Carl Edwards Ford to the point were it looked as though oil was being laid on the track and on lap 22 Mike Bliss spun his Dodge in the second turn to bring out the first caution of the race.  Bliss would later say that he felt he spun in the oil laid down by Edwards on the track.
    
Edwards made three pit stops during the ensuing caution in an attempt to find the cause and correct the problem.  He lost one lap to the leaders as the race resumed but on lap 27 Danny Efland and Brett Rowe spun in the first turn again crediting the oil from Edwards as the cause of the spin.
    
On this caution NASCAR made Edwards team correct the problem or part the car.  It was determined that an oil cooler line was the culprit and it was disconnected as Edwards returned to the field, now three laps down.
    
Busch was able to shoot away from the field on each restart due to the reduced horsepower being sort of traction control for his car.  He was able to get off the corners without spinning his wheels and this advantage came as a result of the rule change so in the end NASCAR actually did him a favor and perhaps made his car even better than it had been.
    
The race slowed again on lap 101 for a spin David Stremme along the backstretch.  This caution sent the lead lap cars to the pits and during the exchange of stops Busch lost the lead for the only time during the race.  Cale Gale led on lap before making his stop and Morgan Shepherd led two laps before pitting right at the end of the caution.
    
Busch pulled away from Braun again on the restart but it was Bliss and Edwards who began putting on races within the race.
    
After being 31st after his early spin Bliss came marching back through the field and was in the top five after the pit stop and continued his march forward. 
    
Edwards, who spent over 6 minutes in the pits, restarted along side Busch after cautions on laps 144 and 163 and was able to pass him each time to get one of his three lost laps on each pass.  Whether Busch allowed Edwards to go or not, no one but Busch knows but Edwards was truly the fastest car on the track.
    
When Brad Teague spun on lap 171 Edwards back on the lead lap and with fresh tires he told his crew via the radio that he was going to win the race.
    
He restarted 22nd on lap and began passing cars high and low as Busch again led Braun on the restart with Bliss, Gale, Josh Wise and Scott Wimmer right behind.
    
Braun could close on Busch on longer green flag runs but was not able to mount any type of challenge during the final 27 laps and Busch won the race .111 seconds ahead of Braun, who drover the best race of his young NASCAR career.
    
Bliss finished third followed by Wimmer and Wise as they took advantage of new tires on lap 171 to pass several cars near the end.  Edwards’ valiant drive to the front ended with an 11th place finish.
    
“We wanted to come out here this weekend and sort of get a little sweet revenge,” said Busch, referring to the rule change.  “And it turned out that way and worked in our favor.  Actually all the complaining our competitors did worked in our favor as it (the rule change) gave me good traction control tonight.  Now will see how this works out on the bigger tracks.  We were actually motivated to do good by having that rule change dumped on us.”
    
“I just want to thank my team for all they have done for me tonight,” said Braun, who shares his Roush-Fenway Ford with several drivers over the season.  “All this tonight has made me more confident and that will help in the future.  I could close on him (Busch) but that as about all.  I tried to drive a smart, clean race and be there at the end, I just came up short but the be second to him this year (Busch), the way he has been doing, is not all that bad.”
    
Bliss, who came into this race as the leader in races won at O’Reilly Park with 12 open wheel wins, came away with his best finish of the season in the Nationwide series with his third place finish.  “The night made be better”, said Bliss, referring to the light into dark race tonight. “The early spin put us behind but we were able to over come that and are actually glad to take a third after the bad luck we have had all season long.  It’s a good finish for us.”
    
Edwards wished the race was a bit longer.  “A little short, that’s all I can say”, said Edwards.  “We just disconnected the line and that corrected the leak.  We did not know if we would last one lap or ten but it held up the whole race and the car was fast, we just dug a far too deep whole to get out of.  It was fun to race Kyle tonight and to have fun it what is all about.
    
Clint Bowyer kept his comfortable series point lead despite finishing 18th.  He is now 163 points ahead of Brad Keselowski who picked up a few points by finishing 15th as the series now heads for its second race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal Canada.