Twenty-six-year-old team owner triumphs for a third time in the commonwealth
SPARTA, Ky. – Kyle Busch powered his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports machine to a worst-to-first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory by .302 of a second over Penske Racing’s Parker Kligerman at Kentucky Speedway in the “UNOH 225” tonight in front of 28,000 fans.
Busch, who qualified eighth, was sent to the back of the 36-truck field after missing the prerace drivers meeting and driver introductions that followed the sixth hour of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice today, but methodically rallied to the lead for the first of two times on Lap 61.
The 26-year-old Las Vegas, Nev., driver engaged in an entertaining top-two battle with Johnny Sauter in the No. 13 ThorSport Racing truck along with top-five competitors Justin Lofton in the No. 46 Eddie Sharp Racing truck along with Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon in the No. 3 and Joey Coulter in the No. 22.
Busch, who led a race best 61 laps, grabbed the lead for the second and final time on Lap 134 after Sauter’s truck broke a rear axle during a Lap 125 pit stop and further benefitted from a bit of racing luck on Lap 138 when the hood of Dillon’s truck popped and blocked his vision.
With strong contenders eliminated, Busch held strong through the sixth and seventh caution periods of the race in the final seven laps and delivered a green-white-checkered flag victory that marked his fifth in the series this season as well as his first in the series at Kentucky Speedway.
Brendan Gaughan took third in the Germain Racing No. 62, Elliott Sadler finished fourth in his Kentucky debut in the Kevin Harvick, Inc., No. 2 and Jason White closed out the top five in the No. 23 Joe Denette Motorsports truck.
Busch, who took first Kentucky victory on May 10, 2003 in an ARCA Racing Series event, Todd Bodine and Carl Edwards are now the only drivers to own NCWTS and NASCAR Nationwide Series victories at Kentucky Speedway.
“We had a really good start, and on restarts the truck was really good, too. I know that if I didn’t spin the tires (on the last restart) that I would have a shot at winning the race.
“Those guys were just anxious. They’re youngsters. They want to win and they want to try to figure out how to win against the best, and that’s who they are going up against.
“It was a hard one; that’s for sure. It didn’t come easy. There were a lot of trucks out there that were really fast tonight. The 13, 3 and 22 were all pretty good. I ended up with a good one.
“I can’t say enough about all these guys. It was a good night. It keeps us up there in the points for the owners’ championship,” said Busch, who now owns 98 combined wins in NASCAR’s three national series.
Kligerman, a July 18, 2009 ARCA Racing Series Kentucky winner, grabbed his second consecutive runner-up finish this season and now owns two top-five and four top-10 finishes.
“We battled the conditions all night. Just as the temperatures kept dropping, the rubber that the (Sprint) Cup cars laid down really messed up the track from when we had practiced and because of that, the groove was constantly moving around. The first half of the race, we ran on the bottom, and the second half, we ran at the top. Then, we kept switching back and forth during the last 10 laps,” he said.
Action continues Friday, July 8, at the speedway with NASCAR Nationwide Series practice, qualifying and “Feed The Children 300” racing along with two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions before “Quaker State 400” qualifying.
The green flag waves for the “Feed The Children 300” at 7:30 p.m. Tickets remain and can be reserved at the Kentucky Speedway gates.