LOUDON, NH - Kyle Busch became just the third driver to win 100 NASCAR races by taking Saturday's New England 200 Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Busch grabbed the lead from series regular Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with 33 laps remaining and then held off Stenhouse and fellow Sprint Cup Series competitor Kevin Harvick in three late-race restarts, including one for a green-white- checkered finish.
After a restart on lap 197, a seven-car crash occurred on the backstretch. Steve Wallace and Brian Scott got turned around, which triggered the incident and set up the two-lap overtime finish. Wallace had also been involved in two previous accidents.
Busch held off Harvick at the finish by 0.3 seconds to join Richard Petty and David Pearson as the only drivers with 100 or more wins in NASCAR.
All of Petty's record 200 wins came in NASCAR's premier series. Pearson has 106 victories, with one of them coming in a Nationwide race in 1982 at Rockingham, NC.
Busch's NASCAR win column now includes 22 in Sprint Cup, 29 in the Camping World Truck Series and 49 Nationwide, which ties him with Mark Martin for most career victories in that series.
After taking the checkered flag, Busch made a victory lap around the flat 1.058-mile New Hampshire track, holding a white flag with "100" on it out of his window.
"It certainly feels good and means a lot," Busch said. "To tie Mark Martin's record at 49 wins is something that's pretty awesome. It's a great opportunity to race in this series and winning that many. To do it now is pretty neat."
Martin joined Busch in victory lane to congratulate him.
"Everybody forgets [Busch] is 26 years old, and there are so many more [wins] out there for him," Martin said.
Harvick led the most laps with 59.
Busch and Harvick raced each other clean in the closing laps, despite an on- going feud between the two. Both drivers have had a history of altercations on the track as well as on pit road, including one in May at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR placed both of them on probation for more than a month following their post-race brawl at Darlington.
Harvick said he was recently warned by NASCAR President Mike Helton not to retaliate against Busch in the future.
"I was told a few weeks ago that if I touched the 18 car [Busch], I would be parked," Harvick said. "I just got to be really careful. I would have liked to got the track position and slide up and did what I needed to do, but I just have to be really careful. That's the way NASCAR put it to me. It would've been a lot easier to win if I didn't have handcuffs put on me, but that's the way NASCAR said we had to do it."
Kasey Kahne finished third, while Stenhouse and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five. Stenhouse bounced back from a spin on lap 33, which forced the first caution.
"I made a mistake there early when I tried to get by [Justin Allgaier]; he was holding everybody up," Stenhouse said. "I just tried to push the issue too hard. I got in there and got too tight and spun around. It was a great call by [crew chief] Mike Kelley getting us track position and having enough fuel to go to the end."
There was only one caution in the first 94 laps, but eight cautions occurred during the final 112 laps.
Kenny Wallace, Michael Annett, Brad Keselowski, the pole sitter, Steve Wallace and Allgaier finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Elliott Sadler slightly padded his lead in the point standings after his 12th- place run. Sadler holds a seven-point advantage over Reed Sorenson, who was one of those caught up in a five-car accident on lap 190.