By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
BRISTOL, Tenn. – No one else had a chance.
Other NASCAR XFINITY Series competitors in Saturday night’s 36th Annual Food City 300 might have brought fast race cars—runner-up Daniel Suarez certainly did.
But polesitter Kyle Busch had a checkered-flag-seeking missile, and after a restart with eight of 300 laps left, he crossed the finish line 1.181 seconds ahead of Suarez, notching his record 91st victory in the series, his fifth in nine starts this season and his ninth in 25 events at Bristol.
The race’s second stage was emblematic of just how fast Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs racing Toyota was. After dominating the first stage, Busch was nailed with a pit road speeding penalty under caution during the break. Busch restarted in the 19th position—and 29th in the overall running order—on Lap 95.
Busch’s miscue allowed Suarez and eventual fifth-place finisher Justin Allgaier the luxury of swapping the lead at the front of the field—until the No. 18 car fought its way back to the front. On Lap 157, Busch passed Suarez for the top spot. Game over.
The only thing that could have derailed the juggernaut was a vibration Busch felt after pitting under caution for tires and fuel on Lap 219—that and a side-by-side brush with the lapped No. 90 Chevrolet with Brandon Brown off Turn 2 with 23 laps left.
“At least I didn’t have to come through (the field) in the last stage, because everybody was pretty fast there tonight in the last stage,” said Busch, who also won the second stage after regaining the lead. “I don’t know if I would have been able to make it all the way back up through there.”
“Suárez gave us a heck of a run there. I was trying to push hard, and he was closing in on us a little bit there before that last caution came out. Once that caution came out everything cooled down, and my car wasn’t even close to what it was before, so I don’t know how held on to it. The car was just so sideways.”
But no catastrophic problems arose for the dominant car, and Busch immediately pulled away after the eighth and final caution on Lap 284, when the Toyota of Jeb Burton collided with Brendan Gaughan’s Chevrolet on the frontstretch.
On Saturday night, Busch can complete a feat only he has accomplished in the past. The winner of Wednesday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the .533-mile short track, Busch can complete a same-week/same-track sweep of all three top touring series with a victory in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
Busch swept all three races at Bristol in August 2010.
“I think we can, yeah,” Busch said of his prospects on Saturday. “We’ve got a fast car. We just have to make the right adjustments overnight here and get it ready for tomorrow. We had a really fast car first round in qualifying and then we lost four tenths of a second. I don’t know what happened or where that went.”
Busch will start 18th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Elliott Sadler came home third, widened his lead in the series standings to 110 points over second-place William Byron and clinched a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff. Ty Dillon ran fourth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th, one lap down, in his first XFINITY start since winning at Richmond in April of 2016. After the race, Earnhardt was treated with fluids for dehydration and hand cramps in the infield care center.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Food City 300
Bristol Motor Speedway
Friday, August 18, 2017
- (1) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 300.
- (7) Daniel Suarez(i), Toyota, 300.
- (8) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 300.
- (12) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 300.
- (4) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 300.
- (3) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 300.
- (16) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 300.
- (11) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 300.
- (2) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 300.
- (5) Cole Custer #, Ford, 300.
- (6) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 300.
- (23) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 300.
- (17) Dale Earnhardt Jr.(i), Chevrolet, 299.
- (13) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 299.
- (20) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 299.
- (25) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 299.
- (15) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 298.
- (14) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 298.
- (24) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 297.
- (9) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 297.
- (34) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 297.
- (19) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 297.
- (29) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, 296.
- (21) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 296.
- (38) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 294.
- (28) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 291.
- (39) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 290.
- (31) Chad Finchum, Chevrolet, 289.
- (22) Jeb Burton, Toyota, Accident, 281.
- (10) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, Accident, 278.
- (30) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, Suspension, 239.
- (26) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 217.
- (33) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, Accident, 210.
- (35) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 204.
- (40) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Suspension, 80.
- (37) Timmy Hill, Dodge, Vibration, 56.
- (27) Ryan Reed, Ford, Accident, 38.
- (18) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, Accident, 25.
- (32) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Overheating, 18.
- (36) David Starr, Chevrolet, Accident, 11.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 88.424 mph.
Time of Race: 01 Hrs, 48 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.181 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 46 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Busch(i) 1-16; J. Allgaier 17-32; K. Busch(i) 33-88; D. Suarez(i) 89; J. Allgaier 90-148; D. Suarez(i) 149-156; K. Busch(i) 157-172; D. Suarez(i) 173-186; E. Sadler 187-201; K. Busch(i) 202-218; D. Suarez(i) 219; K. Busch(i) 220-300.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Busch(i) 5 times for 186 laps; J. Allgaier 2 times for 75 laps; D. Suarez(i) 4 times for 24 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 15 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,7,22,20,42,2,48,1,88,3
Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,7,20,1,2,48,21,42,3,00