SPARTA, KY – Race report by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Marshall Gabell — Getty Images for NASCAR photo – Dominating the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series would be an understatement to describe Kyle Busch’s five victories (Daytona, Kansas, Charlotte, Dover and Kentucky) in five starts throughout this season.
Busch led 91 laps of the 150 laps in the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway en route to another flawless performance in the Bluegrass State. The win marks a remarkable 40th career triumph for him in the Truck Series, which moves him a mere 11 victories behind Ron Hornaday in becoming the all-time wins leader.
“Tonight was great,” Busch expressed. “It’s a great opportunity to drive good equipment. Proud that my names on the door, but mostly proud of everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. It was a great night for all the people who make this happen. I’ve been really competitive in the series this year and it’s a testament to the series and the competition that it has.”
The win allowed Busch to hold hopes on doing an excruciatingly hard, but doable task in completing the ‘sweep’ in Kentucky (meaning he would have to win the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series events later this weekend), an accomplishment he achieved at Bristol Motor Speedway a few seasons ago.
“My Nationwide car wasn’t great, but we made wholesale changes to it and got it a lot better here for this practice tonight, that happened before the Truck race,” Busch stated about the probability of sweeping the weekend. “The chances are there, I hope it comes true. We’ll see how that Monster Energy Camry is tomorrow night (in the NNS race).”
Winner at Gateway Motorsports Park a few weekends ago and teammate to Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr. finished runner-up, his best result at this difficult circuit.
“Ended up finishing second to the boss (Busch),” Wallace explained. “It’s just so tough to beat him. No one has this season. But, good night for us. We led some laps early, but once nightfall came (we struggled).”
Former Nationwide Series victor at Kentucky, Ryan Blaney completed his night in the third position, marking his third top five performance in the past four events.
“They’ve been very fast all year – that team (Kyle Busch Motorsports),” Blaney explained. “I felt like we could have gotten second but (Wallace) made it three-wide on that (last) restart and we were so equal that whoever was in front was going to beat the other.”
Red Horse Racing driver Timothy Peters brought home his machine in the fourth position and former Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski was eluded another win in the Truck Series and ended up rounding out the top five.
Defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton finished sixth and was followed by Sprint Cup Series rookie Austin Dillon, three-time Kentucky winner Ron Hornaday, current Truck Series points leader Johnny Sauter and completing the top-10 was Truck Series rookie Ben Kennedy.
Polesitter Busch was overtaken on the initial start, though just three laps into the event the caution was thrown for debris and from there on it was all ‘Rowdy’.
On the ensuing restart Busch muscled into the race lead and began to post a torrent pace that not even his teammate was able to match.
Around Lap 40 Busch’s advantage was about 13-seconds over third position German Qurioga and about five seconds ahead of his teammate in second; which just sums up the dominance that Busch’s machine possessed tonight.
The event remained green during a long stretch until on Lap 78 John Wes Townley’s machine got up into the marbles and he backed his Toyota into the fence. It was his second crash at Kentucky this weekend (he had wrecked in practice as well).
The action then diminished and the field settling into a rhythm until Caleb Holman ran out of fuel and slowed on the track with eight laps left. This forced NASCAR officials to draw the sixth caution on the evening, leaving the field to duel it out on an eight lap restart.
Even on a race-deciding restart, Busch solidified his willingness to win, overcoming late race challenges from his teammate Wallace Jr. and Blaney.
“I tried to make the most of (that restart),” a defeated Wallace commented post-race. “But, you’re racing against a (Sprint) Cup (Series) star and he (Busch) knew what to do there. He got me loose on the bottom, so I just had to fall into second and hold on.”
POST RACE NOTE – After filing through post-race inspection Busch’s No. 51 was ruled to be violating the ride height standards; a rule that remains in the Truck and Nationwide Series but has been banished in NASCAR’s top series.
NASCAR officials will take the race-winning machine back to the research and development center for further inspection. It’s unlikely there will be any suspensions or fines according to media reports.
The Truck Series returns to action July for the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.