Busch Overcomes Pit Road Penalty To Win UNOH 200
No stranger to victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch added another trophy to his heap Wednesday, but with a twist.
Busch overcame a penalty for speeding on pit road before the final stage of the UNOH 200 then pulled away from the field after a late caution sent the race into overtime.
"Fortunately we were able to stay out of any sort of trouble there in the third stage and the final laps and get ourselves a victory like we thought we could," said Busch, who led 109 of the 203 laps. "We had a truck fast enough to do it and driving through the field was pretty fun but also pretty challenging in the same respect."
Busch passed Matt Crafton for the lead with 33 laps remaining and beat Crafton to the finish line by 0.962 of a second for his fifth career Truck Series victory at the high-banked short track where he now owns 18 victories across NASCAR's top three national touring divisions.
Crafton finished second to Busch for the second time in his 15 career Truck Series starts at Bristol. John Hunter Nemechek was third followed by rookie Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes.
"On that last run, we had really good speed," said Crafton, who led 90 laps. "Kyle caught us in traffic and I was just a little bit off. I found something right there at the end and started mowing 'em down. I picked up two and a half tenths. We got to within five or six (car lengths) of him then the yellow came out and I was like, 'Oh, this is not good on this restart.'"
Wednesday's race represented Busch's seventh and final Truck Series start this season and it kicked off his bid to sweep NASCAR's summer stop at Bristol for the second time in his career.
Busch set a new track record for the series in qualifying and the strength of his No. 46 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck was evident from the get-go. The race started almost two hours later than scheduled and Busch won the first two stages.
Most drivers stuck to utilizing the grippy bottom lane, treated with a sticky resin, but Busch found success on his charge forward after the penalty further up the track. That and lapped traffic helped him reel in Crafton.
"Nobody had run that high yet. Nobody had run in the grind in order to try to make up any time," Busch said. "So I knew it was going to take a few laps to break it in and wear it in. It seemed like it took about 10, 12 laps for it to get going….It lended me another groove to race in other than having to run the bottom where everybody else was. I was able to pick off spots. It seemed like the two grooves were pretty even when you were in clean air. But any time you were in dirt air and you were following somebody, you just kind of had to go wherever the heck they weren't."
KBM drivers took three of the top four spots in qualifying, led by the team's namesake. Busch earned his fourth pole in the Truck Series and eighth in NASCAR national series competition at Bristol with a 129.413 mph lap which eclipsed Tyler Reddick's mark of 128.917 mph set last year. Points leader Christopher Bell started second in a KBM entry and finished seventh. Rookie Noah Gragson started fourth and finished 15th.