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Notes: Brother act puts Busch careers back on track

April 28, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



Notes: Brother act puts Busch careers back on track
Notes: Pastrana quick study in Nationwide debut; Allmendinger gives back

RICHMOND, Va. -- At the end of the 2011 season, brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch both had mountains to climb, and doubtless they drew strength from each other as they began the ascent together.

Driving relentlessly for two heart-stopping laps at the end of Friday night's Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway, Kurt Busch held off charging Denny Hamlin in a milestone victory for the driver and his car owner, Kyle Busch.

'Emotional' victory


Kyle Busch's brother beat Kyle Busch's Cup teammate for Kyle Busch's first Nationwide win as an owner.

The win was the first for Kyle Busch Motorsports, which made its entry into the Nationwide Series this season with one car, the No. 54 Toyota, shared by the two brothers.

The collaboration has brought Kurt and Kyle closer together. In previous years, with Kyle running extensive schedules in all three of NASCAR's top series, their lives had less chance to intersect, even at the race track.

As Kurt and Kyle recover from missteps that waylaid their careers last season, they have begun the journey together.

This past November, in a fit of pique, Kyle wrecked Camping World Truck Series title contender Ron Hornaday under caution at Texas. Kyle was parked for the rest of the weekend, but the consequences were more far-reaching than that.

At the behest of his sponsor, M&M's, and Sprint Cup employer, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle is embargoed from racing Trucks, even though he owns his own NCWTS team, and even though his cash flow would be demonstrably better if he were behind the wheel.

Kyle no longer drives the No. 18 Gibbs Toyota in the Nationwide Series -- the car in which he won 38 of his series-record 51 races. To maintain his Nationwide presence, Kyle expanded his own team to that series and hired his brother as co-driver.

Kurt's career needed a boost, too. After one of the seemingly omnipresent amateur cameras caught his rant against TV pit reporter Jerry Punch in the garage during the season finale at Homestead, Kurt parted with Penske Racing by mutual agreement at the end of the 2011 season, giving up a Chase-worthy ride in the No. 22 Dodge.

But there was an upside to the adversity. The brothers had a chance to work together for the first time in their respective careers, and on Friday night, their collaboration bore fruit.

After the race, Kyle leaned into the car and spoke emotionally to his brother. They hugged -- more than once.

"He just couldn't believe that we got this car to Victory Lane," Kurt said. "You could just feel his hand trembling [thinking], 'I'm an owner -- I don't know what to think,' but he knows he could have drove this car [Friday] as well.

"It's an interesting family feeling right now, because I've raced for guys like [Roger] Penske, guys like [Jack] Roush. A guy named Busch owns this race car, and it's a little bit different feel."

Pastrana shows promise in Nationwide debut

X Games superstar Travis Pastrana made his belated Nationwide debut in Friday night's race, and the driver of the No. 99 Toyota showed fans at Richmond that he was a quick study when it came to driving stock cars at the national level.

For much of the night Pastrana stayed on the lead lap, running in the top 20, until a pit-road speeding penalty on a green-flag stop late in the race dropped him to 22nd at the finish, two laps down.

"The result wasn't what we wanted, but to be perfectly honest, I felt pretty good out there," Pastrana said after the race. "We weren't a top-10 car, but for a while we were closing in on what could have been a top-15 before I messed up the pits.

"I felt really good. We passed [Brad] Keselowski at one point and I was like, 'That's awesome.' To go around and keep moving forward there was really cool."

* Caraviello: For Pastrana, right now it's about the effort | Reactions: Pastrana comments post-race

Allmendinger, Cup sponsor pay it forward

When AJ Allmendinger was a 16-year-old go-kart driver, IndyCar star Paul Tracy gave his career a boost. Now Allmendinger is doing the same thing for another young driver.

Allmendinger has inaugurated a karting scholarship that got a boost of its own when his Sprint Cup sponsor at Penske Racing, Shell/Pennzoil, opted to support the program. On Friday at Richmond, Allmendinger introduced 13-year-old Florida driver Kyle Kirkwood as the first recipient of the scholarship.

"Paul Tracy had a karting team when I was 16 or 17 years old, trying to figure out what I was going to do," Allmendinger said. "At that point, it was amazing to me to have such a superstar in the CART Series wanting me to be a part of his race team.

"That was something that I took to heart and knew that it was something that, once I got to the right time in my life, I wanted to do the same thing. To me, karting is the most pure form of racing there is, whether you're 6, 7 years old or on up through the ranks or somebody like me that's still trying to relive my old glory days and still race go-karts.

"That's something that was always important to me. That's why I wanted to start the karting scholarship. I wanted to do this the last couple of years, and I felt like this was the right time."