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Kyle Busch (54) leads Brad Keselowski (22) during the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday in Bristol, Tenn. Busch won the race and will start from the pole position in Sunday's Sprint Cup race.
Kyle Busch celebrates his win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday in Bristol, Tenn.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kyle Larson's first chance to get a big win in NASCAR ended with him claiming a controversial win.
With a shot at grabbing his first Nationwide Series win Saturday, he wasn't going to make that same mistake again.
Especially not against Kyle Busch.
Larson stalked Busch over the closing laps around Bristol Motor Speedway waiting to make a move. It came as they closed in on the finish line, and Larson made a last-gasp push on the high side that fell just short as Busch held on for his second win of the season.
But in chasing the win the right way, Larson, 20, cleaned up some of the criticism that had followed him from Daytona last month after spinning C.E. Falk III on the final lap of the "Battle at the Beach" late model race.
"You certainly want to try to win races the right way," Busch said. "He played it smart today. That was good on his end. I think a lot of people have been looking at him to try to see if he's going to be to a wrecker or a checker. Today he didn't get the checkers, but that's how you get them. You drive into the corner, or drive into the back of me, I'm going to be here for a while and if he keeps coming up through the ranks, he's not going to have fun dealing with me every week.
"But right now? I'm going to race him as hard as he raced me, but just as clean as he raced me because he didn't put a fender on me all day."
Larson had his win over Falk in the back of his head during the closing laps at Bristol as he looked for a place to try to grab the win.
Although he has received high praise from Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne as NASCAR's next big star, his move in the "Battle of the Beach" caused many top Sprint Cup drivers to openly criticize Larson.
"I was pretty aggressive at the "Battle of the Beach" and I didn't want to have anything like that happen again and have more people look at me," Larson said. "I don't race that way and didn't want to move [Busch]. I wanted to outrace him. I'd gain a little more respect that way, and it made for a better finish, I think."
Indeed it did, as both drivers closed in on lapped cars as they neared the finish line. Busch chose the low line and Larson went high, then tried to squeeze his way past Busch. Larson's car bounced off of both the wall and Busch's car, but he was nipped at the finish line by Busch by .023 seconds.
"He's got a lot of talent," Busch said. "Obviously, he's already made a name for himself and he's got a lot going for him. I'm 27 and I feel like I'm getting old. Every time I looked in the rear view mirror he caught me, so I stopped looking. I didn't want to know where he was at."
It was Busch's fifth career Nationwide victory at Bristol, tying him with Kevin Harvick for the most in the series. Busch has a series-record 53 wins, and two in the last four weeks after going winless last season.
Brian Vickers was third and was followed by Nationwide Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. and Harvick.
Hamlin fine puts spotlight on the plight of underfinanced Carl Long
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Denny Hamlin's recent refusal to pay his $25,000 fine has reawakened the plight of Carl Long, a driver who lacks the financial resources to settle with NASCAR.
Long's career as a Sprint Cup Series driver essentially ended when his team was penalized for having an illegal engine at the 2009 All-Star race. Long's crew chief was fined $200,000, an amount he was unable to pay.
Under NASCAR rules, the fine was reverted to the car owner, which was Long's wife. Unable to drive until the fine is paid, Long was still able to work in the Sprint Cup Series garage because his wife was technically responsible for the debt.
But last year, Long said NASCAR transferred the fine to his name and he's no longer allowed inside the Cup garage.
Annett unsure what caused injury in Daytona crash
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Michael Annett was back at the track Saturday as a spectator, still unable to drive his Richard Petty Motorsports car in the Nationwide Series race because of a fractured and dislocated sternum.
He was injured in a crash during last month's season-opener at Daytona and spent a night in the hospital before returning home to North Carolina, where doctors discovered the severity of his injury. Emergency surgery followed and Annett is sidelined indefinitely.
Questions remain as to what caused Annett's injuries as NASCAR, RPM and seat belt manufacturer Schroth investigate the crash.
"The steering wheel hadn't moved, it wasn't bent," Annett said at Bristol Motor Speedway. "There wasn't a mark on the helmet, a mark on the suit. It was pretty much my body stayed where it was supposed to and my sternum tried to come out of my chest. That's all we do know. Everything did its job. If it hadn't, I wouldn't be standing here.
"We sat in a meeting this week and saw pictures of a brand new set of belts and then my belts after the wreck and everything was correct. It was a six-point harness. NASCAR is working on implementing a seven-point harness, which is something I'm definitely going to look into, but, right now, everything did its job."
Reed Sorenson is driving Annett's car until he can return, and doctors believe he could be sidelined eight weeks. But Annett hopes to get back in the car at least a week earlier than planned based on how well he's felt.
"I was doing better until I got a cold and found out that sneezing is about the most painful thing there is," Annett said. "But other than that, I'm doing good. Honestly, I feel like I could be putting my suit on right now. We all heal differently. They said eight weeks, but they also said I would be in the ICU all night and I was there for 30 minutes. So hopefully, we can turn that eight weeks into six or seven."
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