July 5, 2008
Kyle Busch sets off fireworks at Daytona with sixth win of the season
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (July 5, 2008) - Another race, another win. NASCAR's hottest driver just got hotter in the middle of summer. After battling back from adversity at the halfway point of the race, Kyle Busch edged out Carl Edwards for his sixth win of the Sprint Cup season in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. July became the fifth consecutive month that Busch has won a race since capturing his first win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March. With the win, he more than doubled his points lead to 182 over second-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"Man, I can't believe that we're here right now," an excited Busch said in his post-race press conference. "We didn't have the best car tonight but these guys never gave up and we never gave up out there on the race track. We just had to get up to the front and luckily we were leading there when it mattered the most when the caution came out. There was just a ton of wrecks behind us. I hate it for all of those guys in torn up equipment. I'm glad to have this (No. 18) Toyota up front."
Busch started the race just inside the top-10 in the ninth position. He jumped inside the top-five on the first lap and used the draft to stay there before grabbing the lead for the first time on lap 22.
He remained steady and confident inside the top-five for much of the next 60 laps when disaster nearly struck. While being linked up in the draft on lap 82 with his teammate Denny Hamlin, Busch got a small nudge from behind that got him sideways and out-of-control. He kept the car off the wall, saving it on the apron and regaining control, but not before slipping all the way back to 37th.
With substantial track position to make up, Busch wasted no time and charged back towards the front. By lap 114 he was back in the top-10 and just 10 laps later found himself comfortably back in the top-five.
With 25 laps remaining Busch was knocking on the leader's door. He rode patiently behind leader Jeff Gordon waiting for a chance to attack. On lap 156 that opportunity came in Turn Three and Busch took advantage in the low groove. A late caution bunched the field up for its final restart. From there Busch survived a side-by-side battle with Carl Edwards. One final wreck on the last lap brought out the caution and froze the field, giving Busch the checkered flag in the Coke Zero 400.
"(The race) was pretty crazy, that's for sure," Busch commented. "In the beginning part of the race, our cars were skating around a lot; not as much at the end, but still skating around a little bit. And trying to get the handling right and had our mishap and had to go back through traffic, drove through traffic pretty well and kept a calm, cool head. And tried to get up as far as I could and I knew there was a pit stop left too and we had to adjust the tires, and you just had to keep a cool head tonight."
"And fortunately, having a good car, that helps," Busch continued. "And then of course, being able to have some good helpers out there. Matt Kenseth, I've really got to thank him for the push there at the end of the race. If it wasn't for him getting behind me there and pushing me; and my brother got behind Carl there, and I knew the 17 was better than what the 2 was. So I had better help than the 99, but still, the 17 was strong and helped us."
Both of Kyle Busch's teammates found trouble in the 400-mile summer shootout. Tony Stewart entered the race having felt bad physically all day leading up to the green flag. An extra visit to the infield care center before the race wasn't enough to get him feeling better. Stewart tried to tough it out behind the wheel but was forced to retire from the race at lap 72. He was replaced in the No. 20 car by former JGR driver J.J. Yeley, who finished 20th. Since Stewart started the race he received the points from Yeley's result.
Denny Hamlin was able to lead the race on two separate occasions for a total of six laps. He and Busch worked together in the draft several times throughout the race. Unfortunately for Hamlin he was caught up in a wreck on lap 137 and never recovered back to the front of the pack. He finished in 26th.
Behind Kyle Busch's sixth victory of the season, three Roush-Fenway Racing drivers attempted to solidify their Chase positions with strong, top-five performances. Carl Edwards led just once for one lap but nearly stole a win late in the race. He ultimately finished in the runner-up position. His teammate Matt Kenseth finished in the third spot. Kyle's brother Kurt drove home in fourth, while David Ragan rounded out the top five.
The TNT network will conclude their six-race summer coverage with their live television broadcast of Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Coverage will begin at 6:30pm EDT with the start of the race scheduled for 8:00pm. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will provide live radio coverage of the race as well.