Busch Outduels Bowyer for Truck Series Win
Kyle Busch survived a wild, wreck-filled race on a wing and a prayer - and with an angel on his shoulder.
Busch overcame tire problems and an early spin to rally and beat out Clint Bowyer to claim his 28thNASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch passed Bowyer with seven laps to go and held off Bowyer’s no. 2 Kevin Harvick-owned Chevrolet over the final laps to beat Bowyer by .317 seconds at the line.
But according to Busch, it was more than just him and his crew that helped him win the race.
“We didn’t have the truck to beat tonight, Clint Bowyer did,” said Busch. “Somehow I found some more out of it and I’m going to say that I had some help tonight. I didn’t have the truck to win tonight and I think I had an angel riding with me.”
Busch’s no. 18 NOS Energy Toyota Tundra carried decals honoring Zahra Baker, a 10-year-old disabled girl from Hickory, N.C. who was found brutally murdered last year. Zahra’s father and stepmother have been charged with her death and are awaiting trial.
“I can’t say enough about Zahra Baker and her troubling story and what all she went through as a little girl,” said Busch. “Unfortunately, her life was cut very, very short and we put her on the side of the truck tonight in order to give her some remembrance and some vindication maybe.
“I had an angel riding with me there on that last run. If you believe in that stuff, if you trust in that stuff and you have faith in it -- it can come back and repay you. It means the world to me tonight.”
It was Busch’s second straight Charlotte truck series victory and his third consecutive win. He’s finished in the top five in all six of his truck series starts this season.
Cole Whitt finished third, followed by James Buescher and Ron Hornaday, Jr.
In race that saw a record-tying 10 caution flags, Saturday’s event turned into a wreck-fest with quarter of the field bowing out early.
Two-time series champion Todd Bodine got the cautions started early in the event, pounding the inside backstretch wall on lap nine. Former champion Ron Hornaday, and pole sitter Timothy Peters also ran into trouble.
Busch got his share of the action on lap 53, breaking loose on his own in turn four to bring out the fourth caution flag. Busch suffered minor damage and was able to come to pit road, get fresh tires and make adjustments to his truck that proved to be key.
“We spun out and we only lost a few spots, we came to pit road and Eric (Phillips, crew chief) made a bunch of changes,” said Busch. “I don’t know what he did….got me something that was definitely a lot better.”
Busch was one of several drivers who placed the blame on the wreck-fest squarely on the tires Goodyear brought to the track for the truck series, calling the tires “horrible”.
“Goodyear just brought the wrong tire for the trucks to race on,” said Busch. “Tonight it was especially hard to pass, hopefully next year we can talk Goodyear into bringing a better tire here for us so we can out on a better race. Goodyear does a great job for us, but tonight just wasn’t it.”
Up front, Bowyer held the lead through 46 of the final 53 laps, but struggled with an ill-handling truck and was easy pickings once Busch started reeling him in.
After Busch passed for the lead, Bowyer managed to stay within a truck-length, but lost too much ground on the final lap to challenge for the win.
“We were too loose,” said Bowyer. “I knew going through practice that we were going to have our hands full. The tire was definitely down on grip, and that makes this place even more difficult to get around. We just…lost.”
Rookie Cole Whitt scored his second straight top-five finish in his first career Charlotte Motor Speedway start, and in doing so took over the points lead by one point over Johnny Sauter, becoming the first rookie in series history to lead the point standings.
Sauter, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Justin Marks and Brad Sweet rounded out the top 10, while former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen finished 15th in his NASCAR debut.
* Denotes Rookie
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