By Joe Dunn
When Rick Hendrick announced last year that he was releasing Kyle Busch to make room for Dale Earnhardt Jr, a few sports writers, including myself, predicted that Busch would be the driver to watch in 2008.
Many fans viewed Kyle as reckless and arrogant, and still do, but the one thing that no one can deny is that he is an extremely talented driver. That talent showed up again last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, as he won his fifth Nationwide Series race of 2008 on Friday night. Leading 101 of the 200 lap race, Busch finished 10 seconds ahead of Denny Hamlin.
On Saturday night Kyle started on the pole and led the first 43 laps, turning the lead over to Carl Edwards. Busch never fell further back than 13th and retook the lead on lap 121 where he would lose that lead only two times for a total of 10 laps until a late race caution on lap 246. Following that caution, defending series champion Jimmie Johnson got past Busch for what appeared to be the race winning move, but a final caution with 4 laps remaining would set up a final chance for Busch. On the restart Johnson attempted to hold back Busch by not accelerating at the line, but a determined Kyle countered by pushing Johnson across the line and charging to the outside keeping Johnson pinned low and getting him loose. Kyle easily cruised to his seventh win of the season.
The official announcement of Stewart Haas racing came Thursday during a press conference at Chicagoland Speedway. The name change takes effect now, but Stewart is under contract with JGR through the end of the season. There is still much speculation about a second driver, with Ryan Newman being the top name being circulated. Newman acknowledged over the weekend that he has discussed the possibility with his good friend and fellow Indiana native Stewart, but no decision on his future has been made.
Local racing action this weekend includes the O’Reilly USCS Sprint Cars Friday night at Crossville Raceway, along with local classes. Gates open at 5 pm with racing at 7 pm.
I-40 Dragway will having testing and Bike racing Friday night with $5K Super Pro and $1K Footbrake action on Saturday night.