Kyle Busch dominant in Loudon
Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after winning the Auto Lotto 200 on July 16, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kyle Busch continued Joe Gibbs Racing’s dominance of the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and Xfinity Series dominance of New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday with a personal dominant performance, leading 190 laps of the Auto Lotto 200 on his way to the race victory. It was Busch’s sixth Xfinity win of 2016 and his fifth-career series win at NHMS. His 190 laps led also put him at the 17,064-career Xfinity Series laps led mark, the most, ever, of any driver.
I guess they’re big numbers,” Busch said. “I really don’t know what big numbers are, and records are made to be broken. There may be somebody like me that comes along down the road that does the same thing that I’ve been fortunate enough to do.”
Busch’s latest win also was JGR’s 11th win of the season and seventh at New Hampshire in the last nine races.
Busch wasn’t originally expected to be the driver of JGR’s No. 18 Xfinity Series entry at NHMS, though. Matt Tifft originally was scheduled to driver the car in Loudon, but Tifft continues his recovery from recent brain surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor.
“Certainly, it is unexpected, and we feel for Matt Tifft and those guys, especially with his illness and the things that he’s going through. He’s going through some rehab right now, so can’t wait to see him come back.”
Erik Jones finished second to give Joe Gibbs Racing a one-two finish, while their teammate, Daniel Suarez, finished fourth, putting all three JGR entries in the top-five at the checkered flag. Other top-five finishers included Brad Keselowski in third and Austin Dillon in fifth.
Jones was the only driver to pass Busch on the race track, taking a brief lead on lap 93, just before the yellow flag waved a lap later for debris. Jones was credited with leading three laps before Alex Bowman stayed out during the caution to inherit the lead. Bowman led seven laps before Busch was able to get by to take the top spot on lap 103.
Jones and Bowman were the only two tires other than Busch to lead laps.
In all, the yellow flag waved seven times, with the final pit stops for the front-runners coming during a lap 166 debris caution. Jones took four tires while Busch took two. After taking four tires, Jones restarted fourth but was back up to second, right behind teammate Busch by the time the yellow flag waved for the final time on lap 183. Despite having two more still relatively new tires, Jones was unable to overtake Busch for the win.
“We had a good sequence, there, but there’s not much that I could have really done,” Jones said. “I had the opportunity to run him (Busch) up the hill on that last restart, but he races me clean all the time, and there’s no reason for me to get into him.”
Meanwhile, two tires, specifically right-side tires, was the call of the day for Busch. He ran most of the 200-lap/200-mile distance on the same left-side tires.
“Can’t say enough about Chris Gayle (crew chief) and everyone on this NOS Energy Drink Camry, and they did a great job for me. Chris made some great calls today and some really good calls.”
One of the seven cautions was a result of an incident between Bowman and Ty Dillon on lap 76. The contact put Dillon in the garage for more than 50 laps, while Bowman was able to continue on to a top-10 finish, finishing eighth.
“I think what happened today was pretty obvious,” Dillon said. “It was probably my fault for being in the back. I am very frustrated. What happened today isn’t how you race. You just don’t turn someone on the straightaway.”
Other drivers finishing in the top-10 included Brennan Poole in sixth, Justin Allgaier seventh, Brendan Gaughan ninth, and Elliott Sadler 10th.