Leicht Captures First NASCAR Busch Series Win
Steve Wallace made sure Carl Edwards wouldn’t win another NASCAR Busch Series race.
Instead, 20-year-old Stephen Leicht became a first-time winner in the series, passing his best friend Brad Coleman with 12 laps to go and pulling away to win the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
The 19-year-old Coleman, who took the lead on Lap 157, finished second. Scott Wimmer was third, with David Stremme fourth and Shane Huffman fifth.
Aric Almirola was sixth, followed by Kelly Bires, David Ragan, Mike Bliss and Greg Biffle.
Leicht’s victory came a year after another upset win, when David Gilliland stunned the field with a victory here. Working in his pit that day was Cully Barraclough, who interestingly now serves as Leicht’s crew chief.
Edwards dominated the race, leading 96 of the first 156 laps. Edwards held a 11.6-second lead when NASCAR threw a caution for debris on Lap 151. On the restart, Steve Wallace tried to dart around Edwards, but when Edwards moved to block, Wallace dumped him, sending the No. 60 Ford
spinning as the field drove toward Turn 1.
Edwards came down the track and hit Wallace, causing heavy front-end damage. Wallace was able to continue, though he fell to the end of the lead lap. Coleman was running third when Edwards and Wallace wrecked, leading Wimmer and Leicht. Two more cautions slowed the action, but Wimmer wasn’t able to mount a challenge on Coleman.
Regan Smith also had a strong car, leading 45 laps early in the race after winning his first Busch Pole. But after a long green-flag run, Smith ran out of gas coming into the pits, and his Ginn Racing team could not get the No. 4 Chevrolet restarted. Smith lost two laps and didn’t get back on the lead lap until 44 laps remained.
The 200-lap race started slowly, with three cautions in the first 17 laps. Smith was the driver to beat, passing Edwards on Lap 38 and staying out front the next 25 laps until he ran out of fuel.
Coleman led after the completion of green-flag pit stops, but Edwards reclaimed the lead just before a caution on lap 90 for Danny O’Quinn Jr.’s crash.
On Lap 97, three laps before the halfway point, Wallace grabbed second place but couldn’t close in on Edwards. The yellow waved again on Lap 98 when A.J. Frank bumped Bobby Hamilton Jr. into the wall.
After a restart on Lap 105, Edwards steadily pulled away, though his large lead was erased with the race’s seventh caution.