Third-Place Finish for Car Owner in Bristol Night Race


No. 54 Team Records Eighth Top-Five Finish of the Season

Date: August 24, 2012
Event: Food City 250 (Race 23 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Nationwide Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 10th/ 3rd (Running, completed 250 laps)
Winner: Joey Logano of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

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On a cool summer Saturday night, Kyle Busch jumped behind the wheel of his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in search of a victory, on a short track where he has enjoyed much success. The Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) owner-driver was looking forward to his second chance of the season, to continue the winning streak he has enjoyed at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. From a 10th-place qualifying effort, the 27-year-old driver wheeled his black machine around the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile,’ reaching as high as third, to accomplish the eighth top-five finish for his young team. It was Busch’s 13th top-ten result in 17 races at Bristol Motor Speedway, however, not the finish he was hoping for with his own team.

After rain showers drenched the .533-mile oval shortly before driver introductions were to start, track workers quickly dried the newly paved surface of Tennessee’s famous short track, leaving ‘green’ asphalt for the race event. Busch began the Food City 250 in the 10th-position and was working his way through the field, when the first of nine yellow-flag caution periods waved. The No. 54 team would pit four times throughout the course of the race, although not visiting pit road for their initial stop until lap 47 of the 250-circuit race.

The KBM team battled within the top-10 through the night, staying clear of any on-track car damage with competitors. Most of the team’s focus remained with the car’s handling, in particular the tires and how well the air pressures worked. “I’m sliding more than I have grip,” described Busch early in the race. The team made good, clean pit stops all race long, only adjusting the car chassis once, with a track bar adjustment. The young owner-driver later commented, “the car wants to be tight and loose, I’m up out of the race track, can’t make it stick where I need it.”

Although he battled the feel of the car for most of the race, Busch remained near the front of the field, working among other series regulars such as Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne. In the last 50 laps of the race event, Kahne and Busch enjoyed a good battle, swapping positions over the course of 40 laps, when Busch finally prevailed to maintain his top-five status.

The final two yellow-flag caution periods would bunch up the field and give the KBM leader the opportunity to advance upon green-flag restarts. Busch worked his way up to third place before crossing the start-finish line at the checkered flag.

“It was a real good night for the Monster Energy Camry. All these guys — they worked hard, they did a good job and we missed a little bit of something tonight – kind of like last year. Our car was not as good as it was in the spring here, but we made it work. It seemed like the more we’d go, we would really lose rear traction. That seemed to be our struggle point tonight. Overall, the guys did a good job and I can’t say enough about how we ran — we came home third. We’ll take that — we probably shouldn’t have been that good, but I wish we were better.”

Logano recorded his sixth win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year and 15th of his career. Stenhouse Jr. finished in the second spot, while Busch, Austin Dillon and Sadler completed the top-five finishers. There were nine caution periods for 59 laps of the race along with seven lead changes across four drivers. The No. 54 Monster Energy team remains 10th in the Owner’s Point standings, 139 points from the leader.

The Nationwide Series continues action Sept.1 at the NRA American Warrior 300 from Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway. The television broadcast will start at 6:30pm EST on ESPN and on the MRN radio broadcast. Kyle Busch will make his 15th start of the season behind the wheel of the KBM No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.

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