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NASCAR Xfinity: Kyle Busch wins front end of Kentucky Speedway doubleheader

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway after winning the Alsco 300 on July 8, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway after winning the Alsco 300 on July 8, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kyle Busch took his second NASCAR Xfinity Series win of 2017 in his fifth series start of the year Saturday afternoon in the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. It was his third Xfinity win at Kentucky.

“It’s, certainly, nice to get to victory lane any time you can,” Busch said. “It’s been a heck of a year on the bad front for us, so it’s nice to have this as a little bit of a turnaround. Our Toyota Camry has been really fast all year long, and this NOS Energy Camry, this is the first time we’ve gotten the Rowdy paint scheme to victory lane. I appreciate my buddy helping me design this thing and making it look good. Joe Gibbs Racing engines, the race fans, we appreciate them and Xfinity, as well. It’s fun to have the opportunity to run in this series. I enjoy it and I like running as much as I can; it just gives me a little better idea for the night time and the big races on Sunday, obviously, but tonight being a Saturday night one.”

Ryan Blaney finished second after restarting 23rd with 28 laps remaining in the 200-lap race because of a pit-road penalty during the final yellow flag. He took second from Erik Jones on the final lap and closed to within a second of Busch by the checkered flag.

“I didn’t really have a lot of fun, but it was nice to have a good race car that we could pick our way through the field,” Blaney said. “We got it really good at the end. We were good all day. I thought we were the best car all day, personally. Before that last caution, I thought we were going to get by the 20 (Jones) and set sail. The caution came out and we were debating on whether to pit or not. It is easy to look back on it now and say that we should have stayed out and seen what happened. I thought the right call was to pit, and we just had a violation. That stings. It almost stings worse running all the way up there and finishing second than if we would have finished 10th or something. I can’t thank Brian Wilson (crew chief) and the Snap-On team enough for letting me drive it and working on it all weekend to get it so fast there at the end and, really, all weekend. Not where we wanted to be, but hopefully, we learned some stuff for tonight. It is fun to have this doubleheader. Thanks to the fans for sticking around for a doubleheader day. It is disappointing. I think you have to look at the positives and know we had a really fast car, and that is something to build off of.”

Jones finished third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Ty Dillon fifth to give Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers a sweep of the top-five ahead of the Quaker State 400 Cup Series race scheduled for Saturday night. The Alsco 300 originally was scheduled to be a Friday night race, but heavy rain and severe weather in the area forced the postponement of the race until Saturday afternoon.

Busch took the lead on a restart at the beginning of the 110-lap third and final stage. He lost that lead, though, when he took four tires and restarted seventh with 64 laps remaining. Jones and Blaney, meanwhile, led the way among those who took two. Busch regained the lead by staying out when everyone else pitted to restart with the top spot for the final restart.

Jones and Blaney were stage one and two winners, keeping Xfinity Series championship-eligible drivers from claiming coveted playoff points. Jones dominated the opening stage, and Blaney the second.

After starting alongside Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and pole sitter Busch on the front row, Jones took the lead from Busch on lap six and ran up front the remainder of the first stage while Busch ran second. Blaney, along with Harvick, stayed out during the caution between the first two 45-lap stages after pitting during a lap-25 competition caution and restarted up front.

Blaney was able to maintain his lead on older tires, but Jones and Busch quickly got by Harvick to take second and third when the race restarted at the beginning of stage two. Harvick maintained fourth through the remainder of the second stage but lost ground to the top-three throughout the stage.

The race got off to somewhat of a slow start with the yellow flag waving three times in the first stage, including a caution at the start of the race for an accordion-type incident that involved Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Brandon Jones and Blake Koch. Gaughan spun, and Reed sustained the most damage in the form of a crumpled front end. Reed continued for awhile, but eventually retired to the garage during the second stage.

“We just got KOed on lap one, there,” Reed said. “They brought us down really slow and took off and stopped again. I saw those guys check up, and I laid off the 11 (Koch) and whoever was behind me came with a full head of steam and picked my rear tires up and shoved us into the e11. We went back out there with the thing completely destroyed and ran a top-10 lap time, so I know we had a good car. The oil was getting too hot to keep running. We salvaged a few spots, though. Thank God we have a win at Daytona. That is the insurance that it bought us getting a win down there and locked into the playoffs.”

Gaughan was involved in two early-race incidents that resulted in yellow flags. He got into the wall on lap eight, bringing out the second caution of the race.

After the second stage ran caution-free, the yellow flag three more times in the final stage that consisted of just over half the race.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Joey Logano, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on July 8, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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