Friday, November 24, 2017
Sports

Busch takes Nationwide win, has chance at Bristol sweep

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — The crowd showered Kyle Busch with boos Friday night as he celebrated yet another Bristol Motor Speedway win in Victory Lane.

"Whether you're booing or cheering, glad you're here," Busch said over the public address system. "Hope you're booing more (today) when we take home another trophy."

It wouldn't be out of the question for Busch, who will be going for a Bristol sweep in tonight's Sprint Cup race. He won Wednesday night's NASCAR truck race and dominated Friday's Food City 250, starting from the pole and leading 228 of 250 laps.

"You've got to win two to go for three, so here's two," said Busch, who has 15 career national wins at Bristol and swept the week, a first in NASCAR history in the three major series, in August 2010.

Friday was his 60th Nationwide series victory and 120th spanning NASCAR's three national series. It was also his 15th of the season after winning just one race in all three series last season.

"It comes from preparation, it comes from the shop, it comes from practice here," said Busch, who also praised crew chief Adam Stevens. "Adam and I, we work real well together."

Fellow Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski finished second, followed by Austin Dillon and Justin Allgaier.

Busch will have a harder task tonight — he'll start last in the 43-car Sprint Cup field after spinning during his qualifying lap Friday.

Hamlin on pole: Denny Hamlin, searching for anything to save his season, got a slight boost by earning the pole for tonight's Irwin Tools Night Race.

Hamlin turned 128.969 mph lap around the 0.533-mile bullring in his Toyota. It's his fourth Sprint Cup pole this season but first in his career at Bristol, where is the defending winner.

He's looking for anything positive, mired in 25th in points largely because he missed four races with a fractured vertebra suffered in a crash at California. And he has gone nine races without a top-10 finish, with an average finish of 27.2.

"It's by far the worst run, these nine races, in my career," he said. "A lot of it is our own doing. We got off track for a couple races because we've blown right front tires in consecutive weeks and we started changing our setups and we couldn't find anything that was very good with that. That burnt another three, four weeks. We've had horsepower cut back. But we're headed in the right direction."

Hamlin's lap was good enough to hold off five-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch, who qualified second at 128.770 mph. It's the seventh front-row starting spot of the season for Busch, who is suddenly a hot commodity on the free agent market with an offer to join a possible fourth car for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Furniture Row Racing has made an offer to keep Busch.

Crew chief change: Crew chief Rodney Childers will not return to Michael Waltrip Racing next season. Childers, with the No. 55 Toyota team, is expected to move to Stewart-Haas Racing to crew chief Kevin Harvick next season, but competition director Greg Zipadelli said no contract has been completed with Childers. Brian Vickers is signed as the full-time driver for the No. 55 car in 2014.

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