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NNS Kroger 200 from O’Reilly Raceway Park Recap

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By: Holly Blake

The green flag flew at O’Reilly Raceway Park for the Kroger 200 but just as it did there was a bit of a miscue on the front stretch that caused Jason Leffler to plow into the back end of the 20 of Matt DiBenedetto. Leffler suffered significant damage to the nose and hood of his car while the 20 also had rear damage. Brad Keselowski also was caught in it a bit but no major damage to his 22 Discount Tire Dodge. There was a lot of hard, close racing early on. Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski ran side-by-side for several laps without incident.

The first caution waved at lap 75 for Derrick Griffiin’s crash on the frontstretch. The 18-year-old driver was making the first start of his career in the Nationwide Series.
GREEN FLAG: Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard, Ron Hornaday and Brad Keselowski are the top five on the restart. Bayne quickly jumped back to the lead over Kyle Busch. Busch reclaimed the lead on lap 99.

The second caution came out at lap 120 for debris. All leaders pit for tires and adjustments. Rain has threatened all evening and at this point was reported to be about 35 miles from the track.

Caution number three came on lap 127 for a spin in turn one involving the 35 of Jason Keller and the 43 of Kevin Swindell. Both cars had damage but drove off. Restart on lap 132 was Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday Jr., Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, and Justin Allgaier.

Kyle Busch and Hornaday got together a bit – Busch reported a possible loose wheel or cut tire. Lap 138 Edwards and Keselowski racing each other again hard but cleanly. On lap 142 David Starr and Morgan Shepard got together between turns 1 and 2. Again both cars involved drove away under their own power. The leaders stayed out. Crew reported to Busch that the tire looked ok.

Restart on lap 145 was Busch leading Hornaday, then Bayne, Almirola, and Keselowsi. Great battles were going on all around the track. On lap 162, Hornaday and JC Stout got together in turn 3. Hornaday’s 33 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet reportedly went airborne about four feet and slammed back onto the track. The car was heavily damaged and limped back to the entrance to the pits. Stout’s car had to be removed from up against the wall. Stout was checked out at the infield hospital and was ok. He said they both were committted to going low and he thought he gave him (Hornaday) room.

The green flag waved again on lap 172 with Busch in the lead, followed by Keselowski, Almirola, Gaughan, and Allgaier in the top five. Tight racing all around forced Michael Annet into the outside wall at the entrance to the back stretch. All cars continued with no caution. With ten laps to go Edwards had worked his way to second and was reeling Kyle Busch in slowly. Bayne was all over the back of Gaughan and passed him bringing Keselowski to Gaughan’s bumper. Sorenson and Menard were racing hard for seventh. The four cars of Keselowski, Gaughan, Sorenson, and Menard could have had a blanket thrown over them.

Caution flew on lap 195 for the 87 of Nemechek who spun off of turn four. Kyle Busch radioed to the team to remind him to thank him later – noted sarcasm. The green flag was back out on lap 198 with Busch and Edwards side-by-side. They raced hard and pretty much side-by-side for the last 2 laps but Busch held Edwards off for the win.
Edwards said to the crew afterward that it was hard being on the bottom to pass, they had a good race and the finish was better than they deserved.

As it turned out neither the weather that never developed in the area nor the possible cut tire/loose wheel would prevent Kyle Busch from winning the Kroger 200 benefitting Riley Hospital for Children tonight. This was Busch’s eighth victory and thirteenth top-10 finish in 2010.

The top ten finishers were Winner Busch, Carl Edwards, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Reed Sorenson, Brendan Gaughan, Justin Allgaier, Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, and Steve Wallace.
Carl Edwards posted his fourth top-10 finish in six races at ORP and his sixteenth top-10 finish in 2010. Aric Almirola posted his second top-10 finish in four races at ORP. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the highest finishing rookie with an eleventh place finish. Keselowski leads Edwards in the points standings by 205.

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