Busch wins Nationwide at New Hampshire

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 27, 2010

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Kyle Busch spent most of his race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where he’s most familiar.

Out in front.

Busch won the Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire on Saturday and became the career laps led leader in NASCAR’s second-tier series with 8,118.

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Busch bowed to the crowd, which saluted his sixth win of the season in the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch earned his 36th career victory and passed Mark Martin on the career laps led list (8,117).

“That’s pretty cool,” Busch said. “There’s one more record I’m after and that’s the win record. I want to try and beat him and see how many I can set.”

Busch is tied with Kevin Harvick for second on the career Nationwide win list. Martin leads the series with 48.

Busch held off Brad Keselowski, who finished second and had his solid run derailed by a poor pit stop. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne round out the top five.

Keselowski stretched his points lead to 247 over Edwards.

Busch left with a lengthy list of milestones. He won here last year and is the first driver to win multiple Nationwide Series races in the track’s 24-race history dating back to its inaugural event on July 15, 1990.

“I’m proud of the fact we made it happen and we had everything go right for us today,” Busch said.

Danica Patrick finished 30th, five laps down. Patrick tangled with Morgan Shepherd early and went into the wall only seven laps into the race. The IndyCar regular posted her best finish in four Nationwide races.

“It was a bummer to get lapped so many times,” Patrick said.

Patrick started 25th in her first NASCAR race since February and ran into trouble in her No. 7 Chevrolet almost instantly.

Shepherd got loose and sent Patrick into the wall. She radioed to her crew “he totally took me out.”

Patrick returned to the track a lap down and never got any momentum. She later tapped Shepherd to let him know she didn’t appreciate getting caught up in the early accident.

“I was thinking out there at the end that it reminds me a lot of my first couple of short oval races in an IndyCar,” she said. “I got lapped liked a ton of times in those. It’s part of the process, it’s part of learning and I know these things are going to happen.”

The 68-year-old Shepherd — 40 years older than Patrick — was apologetic.

“Anybody who tries to pass her needs to be patient. She’s got a very fast race car,” he said.

“I hate that I got into her.”

Patrick fared no better than 31st in three starts on the Nationwide Series in February. She said a top-15 or top-20 finish would be a success. She returns to the series in two weeks at Chicagoland Speedway

“There’s a lot for me to learn,” she said.

Busch has it mastered.

He maneuvered up front on the strength of some long runs and held off a nipping Keselowski. Keselowski, who started from the pole, could have made it a two-car race to the finish until a slow pit stop with about 50 laps to go dropped him to seventh. Busch led 125 of the 200 laps.

“I wish there was money for laps led,” Busch said. “That would be pretty cool. It’s a testament to this team and I was at Hendrick Motorsports, too.”

Patrick’s arrival overshadowed the rest of the drivers in the race. She had her own press conference on Friday and reporters dashed out to talk to her Saturday — one of the rare times the 30th-place driver was the star of the show.

“I thank all those people out there that still want to keep watching me because it can’t be fun to watch the driver you’re cheering for go laps down and get passed,” she said. “But, you know, I’m learning and it’ll help me get better.”