Kyle Busch wins Nationwide race at Dover, goes for weekend sweep Sunday

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In the spirit of the casino that abuts the backstretch of Dover International Speedway, Kyle Busch rolled the dice and doubled up with a win in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Buckle Up 200 Presented by Click It Or Ticket.

Busch’s win Saturday made him 2-for-2 for the weekend, having dominated in his victory Friday night in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

It was Busch’s 134th career win across all three NASCAR pro series, and his 66th in the Nationwide circuit (Friday’s win was his 39th in the Truck series).

It was also Busch’s third win of the season in the NNS.

“The last 30, 40 laps there, I was just holding on, trying to hold those guys at bay,” Busch told ESPN after the race. “This car was pretty awesome. I didn’t think it was (in practice), but it was.”

Busch will go for a weekend sweep and his 30th Sprint Cup win in Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks. Busch is the only driver to have ever accomplished a weekend sweep in NASCAR history, having done so at Bristol in August 2010.

“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but we unloaded fast and I think we’ll be alright (Sunday),” Busch said.

Busch’s victory prevented former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano from earning a record-tying fifth consecutive NNS race win at the all-concrete Monster Mile – in his Monster Energy-sponsored Toyota Camry, coincidentally.

“I felt if we had clean air, we would have won the race today,” Logano said. “We just weren’t able to get up there, so we got beat. It’s kinda frustrating. It’s going to take me another couple years to get back in this position again, so we’ll have to start again in the fall (race at Dover). … Unfortunately, we didn’t get into victory lane this time, but we’ll try again next time.”

Trevor Bayne finished a season-best second, followed by Logano, Matt Kenseth and Chase Elliott in fifth.

“This Nationwide Series is so tough this season that you have to be on your game every single lap, and I felt we did that this weekend, but it stinks to be that close,” Bayne said. “You want to get greedy and just ask for that much more.”

Sixth through 10th were Kyle Larson, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon, Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith, who is still atop the Nationwide Series season points standings.

Elliott Sadler is second in the standings, four points behind Smith, followed by former points leader Chase Elliott (-22), Bayne (-27) and Dillon (-27).

 

Here’s the unofficial result of Saturday’s Buckle Up 200 Presented By Click It Or Ticket:

1 Kyle Busch

2 Trevor Bayne

3 Joey Logano

4 Matt Kenseth

5 Chase Elliott

6 Kyle Larson

7 Brian Scott

8 Ty Dillon

9 Elliott Sadler

10 Regan Smith

 

11 Chris Buescher

12 Brendan Gaughan

13 Ryan Sieg

14 Landon Cassill

15 James Buescher

16 Dakoda Armstrong

17 Joe Nemechek

18 Jeff Green

19 Paulie Harraka

20 Jeremy Clements

 

21 Timmy Hill

22 Mike Bliss

23 Joey Gase

24 Derrike Cope

25 Josh Reaume

26 Dylan Kwasniewski

27 Ryan Reed

28 J.J. Yeley

29 Tanner Berryhill

30 Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

31 Cale Conley

32 Mike Harmon

33 Josh Wise

34 Matt Carter

35 Tommy Joe Martins

36 Todd Bodine

37 Morgan Shepherd

38 Ryan Ellis

39 Matt Dibenedetto

40 Blake Koch

 

We’ll be back with more updates shortly.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne