The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) wrapped up the 2012 season Saturday at Homestead-Miami (Fl.) Speedway and the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) No 54 Monster Energy team finished strong with a pole qualifying position, 89 race-high laps led and a second place finish. The result gave KBM a first-season record of one win, three poles, 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.
Busch started the day with a first-place qualifying effort, the third pole award for KBM’s No. 54 team this year. Upon taking the green flag, the 27-year old NASCAR veteran paced the field in first place through one round of green-flag pit stops and into the second pit sequence under yellow, when time taken for added car adjustments put the No. 54 into third on the restart. Busch made quick work of the leaders though and recaptured the first-place role up to almost the halfway point in the race.
Although the No. 54 Camry showed dominance over the 200-lap event, the car’s handling fought owner Busch throughout the night and despite three more pit road visits. Crew chief Mike Beam and team worked hard to “stay ahead” of the track, but in the end a loose-handing car kept Busch from retaining the lead position.
Team owner-driver Busch commented afterwards, “We had a good car. It was really fast early on and then we made some adjustments to it, got off base a little bit, and had to come back. With two restarts to go, we were 10th I think and drove all the way to third, and then there the last restart I got to second. I don’t know that I’ve lost so many different ways in a season, but this is that year. I tell you man, these guys made some huge gains and we were phenomenal. I just can’t say enough about all the work that they put into this thing, and everybody that worked so hard to give us good equipment. Monster Energy and Toyota give us a lot of support and we appreciate them.”
Smith recorded his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, his first victory in 103 series attempts and first top-10 finish in three races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. KBM’s leader Busch finished in the second spot. Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael Annett completed the top-five finishers. There were five caution periods for 24 laps of the race along with 13 lead changes across 10 drivers.
The No. 54 Monster Energy team closed out the season eighth in the Owner’s Point standings, 152 points from the leading team owner Joe Gibbs.