NASCAR Xfinity: Kyle Busch dominates at Kansas
Kyle Busch celebrates his win of the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 15, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
After a dominant performance that included leading 150 laps of the 200 that made up the race, Kyle Busch claimed his ninth NASCAR Xfinity Series win of 2016 and his third-straight at Kansas Speedway in the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday.
“It was a hard-fought battle,” Busch said. “Seemed like it was going to be easy for us; we had a super-fast car, and when we were out front, I could take it easy on those long runs and we could drive away. The car would turn so well.”
Chase drivers Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez finished second and third, while two additional Sprint Cup Series drivers, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth.
“I’m proud of everyone in the 19 group; they did an amazing job and never gave up,” Suarez said. “They keep tuning the car, and we ended up with another top-three finish. That’s pretty good. I wasn’t expecting to finish that good. Lucky to have a group like the one I have.”
Although Busch was up front for three-quarters of the race, he was a lap down for a brief time. After pitting during a green-flag cycle of stops with 52 laps remaining, the yellow flag waved about 10 laps leader with a handful of drivers still not having pitted. Those drivers, Regan Smith, Ty Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto were able to pit under the yellow, trapping everyone else, who pitted under green, a lap down. But Busch was the first driver a lap down and as a result of the caution, was put back on the lead lap. Several other drivers took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.
“A lot of things were trying to work against us at the end of the race,” Busch said. “We were able to persevere and do the right things and have lucky restarts and be in the right grooves and not get caught up in the melee that was happening. A lot of cautions today. Overall, this NOS Energy Drink Camry was awesome.”
Smith restarted the race with the lead, but lost that lead to Dillon when the race returned to green.
Erik Jones took the lead just before a lap 177 caution and had Dillon next to him on the front row for the restart. The two drivers made contact, with each falling out of contention because of the damage. Suarez was the beneficiary, taking the lead when Jones and Dillon dropped back and hit pit road. Meanwhile, Busch moved into second.
After a 10th and final yellow flag with just over 15 laps remaining, Busch took the lead, while Sadler moved into second and Larson to third. Larson, though, scraped the wall and handed positions over to Suarez and Logano in the closing laps.
“I thought that I got lucky with the lane selection, there. Suarez, obviously, took the top, and I would have thought that Larson would have been good, too, but Elliott was a bit better today. That was a key moment to the race. I still think if Suarez got a good jump, we could have passed him in the late going.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were Smith, Brennan Poole Brandon Jones and Blake Koch.
Dillon, a week after being eliminated from the chase, finished 12th. Jones was 15th. Some other chasers also had their struggles. Ryan Reed struggled with a loose spark plug wire early in the race and then was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 164 that also collected fellow-chasers Darrell Wallace Jr. and Justin Allgaier, among others. One remaining chase driver, Brendan Gaughan, brought out the ninth yellow flag on 177.
“The plug wire really put us behind from the start,” Reed said. “I think we had about a 13th-place car before everyone had troubles. With everyone having problems, if we could have just been running where we needed to, it would have been an easy top-10 day.”