Kurt Busch edges Hamlin for Nationwide victory at Richmond

Kurt Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, crosses the finish line ahead of Denny Hamlin, driver of the #18 Z-Line Designs Toyota, to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, crosses the finish line ahead of Denny Hamlin, driver of the #18 Z-Line Designs Toyota, to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

RICHMOND, Va. — By the thinnest of margins, in a breathtaking finish that featured two cars sideways and side-by-side at the finish line, Kurt Busch beat Denny Hamlin to the checkered flag by .062 seconds to win Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

Busch delivered the first-ever NASCAR Nationwide Series victory to the team owned by his brother, Kyle Busch. The win was Busch’s fourth in the series and his first on a short track. Hamlin came up two feet short after a phenomenal drive from the rear of the field after a pit road mistake.

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick ran third, followed by defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr. Elliott Sadler finished sixth to cling to the series points lead by two points over Stenhouse.

“To get KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) its first win — this is unbelievable,” Kurt Busch said in Victory Lane. “It’s harder than you think, putting a program together. You think you can come in here and muscle your way to the top, but you have to think your way to the top.”

Busch parted ways with Penske Racing at the end of last season and took a Sprint Cup job with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing this year. He and Kyle are sharing driving duties in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in the start-up Nationwide program.

“It was unbelievable racing with him,” Busch said. “I was pacing myself and pacing myself, and — boom! — he came out of nowhere at the end.”

For Kyle Busch, it was difficult to contain the excitement of the first victory with his own equipment.

“This is the most emotional I’ve ever been for a win,” said Kyle, himself a prolific past winner in the No. 18 Toyota that Hamlin drove Saturday night. “Man, this is cool. When you’re behind the wheel, it’s a lot easier to do. When you’re standing here watching the guy behind you close in on you . . . Kurt ran him really tough, and then Denny ran us clean.”

In a race dominated by Sprint Cup drivers Busch, Hamlin and Harvick — and featuring the relentlessly promoted Nationwide debut of X-Games gold medalist Travis Pastrana — the most noteworthy story was the spectacular maiden voyage of 18-year-old Ryan Blaney, who finished seventh in his series debut.

Hurt by three slow pit stops, the last under green, Blaney otherwise would have been a likely contender for the victory in his first Nationwide race.

Hamlin likewise was a victim of a pit road mistake, but one of his own making.

Hamlin missed his pit stall under caution on Lap 117, restarted 24th on Lap 125 and drove up to the third position before pitting under the green flag on Lap 208.

Second soon after the cycle of pit stops, Hamlin harried Busch until the end of the race but ran out of time. Hamlin said he could have moved Busch on the final lap but preferred to have the race decided fairly.

“I could have moved him up and gotten him out of the groove, and it would have been over with,” Hamlin said. “But Kyle’s a teammate (at Joe Gibbs Racing) and (KBM general manager) Rick Ren and those guys have built a great program, so I wanted it to be fair.

“He won fair and square, and (I was) just one lap too late.”

Despite a pit road speeding penalty, Pastrana ran 22nd in his ballyhooed Nationwide debut. Danica Patrick came home 21st.


1. (10) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 250, $40,100.
2.  (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 250, $26,900.
3.  (1) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 250, $27,075.
4.  (6) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 250, $26,418.
5. (12) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 250, $23,043.
6.  (7) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 250, $25,043.
7.  (8) Ryan Blaney, Chevrolet, 250, $15,460.
8. (19) Michael Annett, Ford, 250, $21,838.
9.  (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 250, $22,343.
10.  (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 250, $15,825.
11. (11) Steve Wallace, Ford, 250, $20,868.
12. (21) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 249, $20,768.
13. (17) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 249, $20,668.
14. (15) Brian Scott, Toyota, 249, $23,218.
15. (13) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 249, $21,118.
16.  (9) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 249, $14,200.
17. (20) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 249, $20,668.
18. (14) Joey Logano, Toyota, 249, $13,700.
19.  (4) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 248, $20,093.
20. (24) Johanna Long, Chevrolet, 248, $20,718.
21. (16) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 248, $19,993.
22. (25) Travis Pastrana, Toyota, 248, $13,450.
23. (18) Casey Roderick, Ford, 247, $19,843.
24. (26) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 247, $19,793.
25. (27) Tayler Malsam, Toyota, 246, $20,193.
26. (33) Timmy Hill, Ford, 245, $19,668.
27. (40) Kevin Lepage, Chevrolet, 245, $13,150.
28. (43) TJ Bell, Chevrolet, 244, $19,543.
29. (31) Tanner Berryhill, Chevrolet, 244, $19,493.
30. (28) Jason Bowles, Toyota, 243, $19,743.
31. (34) Eric McClure, Toyota, 243, $19,388.
32. (38) Matt Frahm, Ford, 243, $12,860.
33. (29) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 229, $19,293.
34. (37) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, 162, $19,183.
35. (30) Erik Darnell, Chevrolet, Clutch, 145, $19,153.
36. (32) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Handling, 90, $12,650.
37. (22) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Accident, 66, $12,590.
38. (23) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, Suspension, 12, $12,536.
39. (42) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, Vibration, 10, $12,420.
40. (36) Scott Speed, Chevrolet, Electrical, 9, $12,380.
41. (39) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 7, $12,340.
42. (35) Chase Miller, Chevrolet, Clutch, 7, $12,285.
43. (41) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 3, $12,224.


Average Speed of Race Winner: 104.07 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 48 Mins, 06 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.062 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 3 for 20 laps.
Lead Changes: 13 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders:  K. Harvick 0; D. Hamlin 1; K. Harvick 2-70; M. Shepherd 71-73; K. Harvick 74-76; K. Busch 77-79; K. Harvick 80-117; D. Hamlin 118; K. Harvick 119-166; K. Busch 167-202; D. Hamlin 203-206; M. Annett 207-208; J. Logano 209-221; K. Busch 222-250.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 4 times for 158 laps; K. Busch 3 times for 68 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 13 laps; D. Hamlin 3 times for 6 laps; M. Shepherd 1 time for 3 laps; M. Annett 1 time for 2 laps.
Top 10 in Points: E. Sadler – 285; R. Stenhouse Jr. – 283; A. Dillon – 262; S. Hornish Jr. – 232; M. Annett – 220; C. Whitt – 207; J. Allgaier – 192; T. Malsam – 182; T. Bayne – 180; M. Bliss – 174.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.