Kurt Busch secures emotional Nationwide win at Daytona
There were emotional scenes in victory lane at Daytona as Kurt Busch pulled off a miraculous win for James Finch’s underfunded Phoenix Racing operation despite suffering considerable damage in ‘the big one’.
Annett had nowhere to go and spunIn the closing laps, Busch had drafting help from reigning Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. which allowed him to seize the lead from Joey Logano and Elliott Sadler. Stenhouse was unable to attempt a pass for the lead however, as Austin Dillon and Michael Annett were rapidly closing in behind. Realising he could not pass Busch without allowing Dillon past, Stenhouse moved to block Dillon on the run to the line, causing the reigning Truck series champion to lift.
Behind, the unsighted Annett had nowhere to go and spun Dillon’s Richard Childress Chevrolet, which crossed the finish line backwards in fourth place. Logano came home fifth ahead of Sadler in sixth, a result which sees 37-year-old Sadler retain the championship lead by just two points over Dillon, with Stenhouse a further sixteen back in third.
“We didn’t have many people to work with and I saw [Busch] hung out there in the center,” Stenhouse explained. “I got a good restart and jumped to the middle and caught up. He was fast all night and I just pushed him to the win. I was hoping I could make a move there, but I saw [Dillon] and everybody coming, so I kind of tried to duck out and block them and we ended up second.”
By this point, many of the expected contenders had been eliminated in the Daytona lottery. Mike Wallace had already pulled off one Houdini-like save after contact with Sam Hornish Jr. but his luck was soon to run out.
As Wallace and Kevin Harvick lost momentum and were swallowed up by the chasing pack, James Buescher attempted to capitalise on an enormous run to the inside. Seemingly unaware that Buescher was inside of him, Wallace came down the track and clipped the Turner Motorsports car, sending Buescher careering into the side of Brad Keselowski leaving Cole Whitt, Clint Bowyer, John Wes Townley and Casey Roderick with nowhere to go. Busch was lucky to emerge with only cosmetic damage.
“The whole field was just coming [upon Wallace and Harvick] like a freight train,” said Keselowski after his release from the medical centre. “You just can’t stop – even the guys who can see [the wreck] slow down and then get pushed into it. I saw it coming and tried to get to the outside of it and outrun it, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Fan favourite Danica Patrick was another who failed to make the finish. The JR Motorsports driver was in with a shot at victory and led 13 laps before she was hit from behind as the pack scattered in its attempts to miss the spinning Jeffrey Earnhardt. Patrick hit the SAFER barrier on the inside wall with enough force to dislodge the steering column, but thankfully emerged from the wreck unscathed.
“All I saw there was an accident happening in front of me, and I went to go low to miss it,” Patrick said. “It’s just really frustrating when I have as fast a car as I did, and I know Tony Jr. is frustrated. I know he expected to see that in victory lane.” Patrick and co. will be back in action on the 14th of July at Loudon, New Hampshire. Watch LIVE NASCAR Nationwide Series action on Motors TV
Published 10/07/2012 14:42
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