Busch holds off Hamlin for Richmond Nationwide win
Richmond, VA – Kurt Busch beat Denny Hamlin in a thrilling last-lap, side-by-side battle for the win in Friday night's Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
Kevin Harvick dominated most of the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 by leading 158 of the first 166 laps, but Busch took command from there. When a late-race round of pit stops concluded, Busch grabbed the lead for good. Hamlin then challenged him for the top spot during the closing laps.
Both drivers ran side-by-side during the last lap and made slight contact coming out of the final turn, but Busch crossed the finish line 0.06 seconds ahead of Hamlin.
Busch not only claimed his fourth career Nationwide win, but gave his younger brother, Kyle, his first victory as a car owner in the series. Kurt and Kyle are sharing driving duties in the No. 54 Toyota this season. This is the inaugural year for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the series.
"It was an amazing run for us tonight," Busch said. "To give KBM its first win, this is unbelievable. All of these guys have been working so hard. It's just that love that you have as a family member. I've driven for guys like [Roger] Penske and [Jack] Roush, but when you're driving for a guy named Busch, you got to be on it, and I'm happy to deliver tonight."
Kyle Busch holds the Nationwide record for most career wins with 51 as a driver, but his first as an owner was his most gratifying one.
"To have Kurt do it, it doesn't bother me one bit," he said. "This is the most emotional I've ever been for a win. This is cool."
Hamlin, who hails from nearby Chesterfield, VA, rebounded from a pit road mistake halfway through the 250-lap race. While experiencing problems with his team radio, Hamlin missed his pit stall and had to pit again, falling back to 24th.
"I didn't hear the guys count me in, so I missed the box and had to go to the rear, but that was a remarkable comeback," he said.
Hamlin was attempting to win the Nationwide spring race at his home track for the second straight year.
"I could have moved [Busch] up and got him out of the groove, but Kyle is a teammate [Joe Gibbs Racing]," he said. "I wanted to be fair. He won fair and square. I was just one lap too late."
Harvick wound up finishing third, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-five.
Elliott Sadler managed to hold on to the points lead after finishing sixth, but Stenhouse trimmed Sadler's advantage to just two points.
Ryan Blaney, the 18-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, finished an impressive seventh in his Nationwide debut.
"We'll take what we can get here," Ryan Blaney said. "We kind of got hurt on pit road a little bit and got back in dirty air. After 40 laps, we could really start pulling guys down."
Travis Pastrana was not as fortunate in his first start in NASCAR's second- tier series. Pastrana, a worldwide action sports icon, finished two laps behind in 22nd. He received a pit road speeding penalty on his final stop.
"The low light was getting beat by both of the girls [Danica Patrick and Johanna Long]," Pastrana said. "It was actually awesome racing with Danica. Her car was really loose in the middle."
Long finished 20th, while Patrick placed one spot behind Long in 21st. Both drivers also finished two laps off of the pace.