Busch nearly wins Nationwide race in No. 54

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JOLIET, ILL. (AP) - Kyle Busch _ and not brother Kurt _ was behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kyle said he decided to race because he already had experience in that car at this track earlier in the year.

Kurt was originally slated to run this race, but then talking about it, we decided that we haven’t had very many tracks yet this year that we’ve had the same guy in the car for the second time, for the second race, to see how our program’s progressing,” Kyle Busch said. “I felt like that would be a positive, for me to run the race here.”

Busch finished second Saturday, a big improvement on his 27th-place showing at Chicagoland in July, but he’s still without a Nationwide win this year. He’s teamed up with Kurt Busch for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the organization’s first season on the Nationwide circuit, but Kurt’s victory at Richmond in April is the only win for the No. 54 so far.

Kyle Busch is the career leader with 51 Nationwide victories, but the last 36 _ and 38 overall _ came in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

Joey Logano drives that car now and has six wins this season.

Kyle Busch missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year for the first time since 2009. After 18 NASCAR victories in 2011 _ four in Cup, eight in Nationwide and six in Trucks _ he has only a Cup win at Richmond to show for this year.

He said Kurt Busch is set to race in the No. 54 at Kentucky, but that they’ll keep playing things by ear.

“I think I own it, so I can run as many as I want, right?” Kyle Busch said.

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APPEAL DENIED: Grant Hutchens, a team engineer for Richard Childress Racing’s No. 27 Sprint Cup car, has had his six-week suspension upheld.

Appellate officer John Middlebrook upheld the original penalty after an appeal. Hutchens will now be suspended until Oct. 25.

NASCAR levied the penalties against driver Paul Menard’s race team in August. Crew chief Slugger Labbe was fined $100,000 and suspended because NASCAR said the car’s frame rails had been intentionally modified in an effort to deceive inspectors.

Menard and car owner Richard Childress were each docked 25 points, while car chief Craig Smokstad and Hutchens were both also suspended.

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