By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.—Subbing for Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch won Saturday’s Zippo 200 Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International in an event in which Busch and his brother, Kyle Busch, led every lap.
Keselowski, who broke his ankle Aug. 3 during testing at Road Atlanta, watched the race from the ESPN television booth as Busch held off Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano to win his first Nationwide race since 2006 and his third in 12 career starts.
Busch won in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the event three laps past its scheduled distance of 82 laps at the 2.45-mile road course.
PHOTO CREDIT: NASCARMEDIA
Johnson finished second despite a pit-road penalty. Logano was third, followed by Kyle Busch, who couldn’t improve his position after the final restart, and Carl Edwards. Paul Menard, Ron Fellows, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler completed the top 10.
Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 48 laps, was out front on Lap 78, when he had to pit for fuel. That handed the lead to Kurt, who had pressured his brother as they ran 1-2 from Lap 56 to that point. Kyle had made a pit stop on Lap 50; Kurt made his final stop on Lap 55.
“We were running hard together,” Kurt said. “It wasn’t to force him to run out of fuel. I wanted to race him as fair and square as you can, but we knew that they were short (on fuel). I had the confidence in (crew chief) Todd Gordon here that we had no problem on fuel, so, of course, we were going to continue to apply pressure.
“It wasn’t that we were just hanging out and waiting. It seemed like I could catch him in traffic, and then I could get to his back bumper, but I couldn’t do anything. But that was still with 10 (laps) to go. With five to go, I was going to really pour it on, but those guys didn’t have enough fuel.”
The brothers Busch mixed it up early after starting 1-2 on the grid. Polesitter Kurt led the first eight laps before a bobble in the inner loop allowed Kyle to move around him to the outside on Lap 9. Kurt regained the lead soon after the cars crossed the start/finish line, outbraking his brother into Turn 1.
Kyle was forced to pit road on Lap 17, however, after picking up grass on the grille of his No. 18 Toyota when he left the pavement while negotiating the bus stop (inner loop). That put Kyle off-sequence from the rest of the lead pack, but he regained the top spot when those ahead of him made scheduled pit stops several laps later.
Kyle built a lead of almost two seconds before pitting for fuel and tires on Lap 50, putting Kurt back in front. But Kyle regained the lead on Lap 55 when Kurt pitted.
Kyle was saving fuel to start the final green-flag run, but he began to lose fuel pressure with five laps left and brought the No. 18 Toyota to pit road on Lap 78. That put Kyle sixth in the running order before Casey Roderick and Eric McClure tangled at the exit of the bus stop on Lap 80 to cause the second caution of the race.