Kyle Busch had ’em covered once again in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last night at Darlington Raceway, winning the VFW/SportClips Help a Hero 200 from the pole and claiming his fifth triumph in eight NNS starts this season.
Busch’s decision to opt for a four-tire stop under caution on Lap 121 proved to be a critical one. Re-starting fourth at Lap 125 behind Joey Logano and Austin Dillon (both of whom had stayed out on older rubber), as well as Elliott Sadler (who took two tires on his last stop), Busch surged past with the fresh Goodyears and took the lead for good from Logano on Lap 130. He would pull away to the win over Sadler by over nine-tenths of a second.
Sadler spun out while running second on Lap 50, but managed to avoid the wall and fought his way back to the runner-up position at the checkers. Brian Vickers, Logano, and Matt Kenseth finished third, fourth, and fifth respectively, and with their 1-2-3-5 finish, Joe Gibbs Racing became the first organization to ever put four cars in the Top 5 of an NNS event.
The series’ top two title contenders, Regan Smith and Sam Hornish Jr., battled to a stalemate in South Carolina as Smith finished seventh and Hornish finished eighth. Smith currently holds a 28-point edge over the former IndyCar champion.
Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).
So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.
Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.
“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.
“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”
The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.
Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.
Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago: