By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
DARLINGTON, S.C. - One to go.
With a convincing victory in Friday night's Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway, Kyle Busch scored his fifth Nationwide Series win of the season and the 48th of his career, leaving him one behind Mark Martin for the career victory lead in the series.
Busch beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 3.677 seconds. Elliott Sadler was third, followed by Nationwide points leader Justin Allgaier and Steve Wallace.
"Being within one of Mark's win record-it's special," Busch said. "We'll see when it happens, if it happens. Maybe some of you say it's inevitable, but we just keep working our guts out and making sure we bring good racecars to the racetrack.
"I'm racing Dover (next week), and I'm racing Charlotte (May 28). Those are really good places for me in the Nationwide Series. I've run really well at both of those."
Pit strategy moved Sadler to the front of the field, as crew chief Jimmy Elledge elected to keep the No. 2 Chevrolet out on the track under caution for Michael Annett's backstretch crash on Lap 89.
As Sadler explained after the race, there was luck involved in the decision not to pit.
"We had no idea they were going to pit," Sadler said of the large group of cars that came to pit road under caution. "All of a sudden everybody darts down pit road, and I go with 'em. Then, at the last second, I think in my mind, 'My guys are not even ready.'
"...So I stayed out, and I think at the time we were five laps short on fuel, and I kept cutting the car off and saving fuel as much as I could during the caution laps. It turned out to be a good call on our part, because I think we would have been right in the middle of the big wreck that happened there on the backstretch one lap later."
Sadler passed Allgaier for the lead on Lap 108, but that didn't last. Busch, who had restarted ninth on Lap 104-after an eight-car wreck caused the fifth caution of the race-worked his way through the field and passed Sadler for the top spot on Lap 124.
The eight-car melee on Lap 95 collected the cars of Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne, both of whom had battled for the lead early in the race.
Hamlin, who took two tires on his final pit stop, felt that crash cost him a chance to win, since it eliminated a group of cars between him and Busch, who had fresh rubber on all four corners.
"With that wreck clearing out all of those cars, Kyle was able to restart right behind me," Hamlin said. "He had the better tires and had the better car there at the end."