Kurt Busch turns record lap at Darlington

Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Friday, May 10, 2013, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)


Kurt Busch ended up on top at Darlington Raceway a week after finishing upside-down at Talladega.

Five days ago, Busch went airborne near the end of the Aaron's 499 and crash landed on Ryan Newman.

On Friday, Busch sped around Darlington with a fast lap of 181.918 mph for his third career pole here. It surpassed the two-year-old mark of 181.254 mph held by Kasey Kahne.

“Last week, we ended on our lid, and this week we're here with a track record,” Busch said.

Defending Southern 500 champion Jimmie Johnson will start alongside Busch, followed by Busch's younger brother Kyle, Kahne and Martin Truex Jr.

It's been quite a week for the elder Busch.

There was the frightening crash in the last Sprint Cup race, then an Indy Car test session for Michael Andretti at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.

It's also the 10-year anniversary of the thrilling, side-by-side duel with Ricky Craven in which Busch lost the race by .002 seconds — the closest finish in Sprint Cup since the series went to electronic timing in 1993.

“It's been surreal,” Busch said. “It's been an amazing ride.”

And it might not be finished. Busch's Furniture Row team were the surprise winners at Darlington two years ago, Regan Smith holding on to bring victory to the single-car program and the only NASCAR operation based west of the Mississippi River in Denver.

“To put it on the pole is a great surprise, but it's also showing the strength of the team,” Busch said.

Busch joined with Craven earlier in the week to talk about their metal-swapping duel, where both crossed the line in a virtual tie while grinding on each other.

Busch said he felt like a winner despite finishing second because he raced hard, clean and gave all he could in chasing victory.

Kyle Busch took the lead from Joey Logano 18 laps from the end to win his fifth Nationwide race this season and second in three years at Darlington Raceway.

Busch started from the pole and was the strongest car throughout. He led for 107 of the 147 laps and finished a second in front of Elliott Sadler. Joe Gibbs Racing placed four in the top five, Busch and Elliott's teammates Brian Vickers third and Matt Kenseth fifth.

Logano was in front when the field restarted following the last of four caution periods while Busch was in third. Busch quickly got by second-place Austin Dillon and began reeling in his former JGR teammate in Logano.

Busch swept past Logano on lap 129 and found mostly clear sailing the rest of the way.

Busch is the Nationwide leader with 56 career wins. He did not win in the series while operating a car he owned.

Since rejoining JGR, Busch has regained his dominance. Now, he tries for his third double-double this season at the Southern 500 after sweeping both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races earlier this season at Fontana and Texas.

Busch won the 2008 Southern 500 at Darlington.

The leading rookie on the Nationwide series, Kyle Larson, finished sixth while series points leader Regan Smith was seventh. Sprint Cup regular Kasey Kahne was ninth.