Kyle Busch Earns 75th Xfinity Series Win At Kansas
|Kyle Busch gets 75th win|
|Getty Images for NASCAR|
Overcoming obstacles in the XFINITY Series is commonplace for Kyle Busch.
In Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway, Busch brushed aside a pit road speeding penalty, a hole in the nose of his No. 54 Toyota, a pit stop that dropped him to seventh for the penultimate restart, an unwelcome green-white-checkered-flag restart and a teammate who had the fastest car for much of the afternoon.
The end result was Busch's 75th XFINITY Series victory, extending his own record. Busch won for third time at Kansas and for the fifth time in 20 starts this season.
The race also saw Chris Buescher add one point to his series lead over Chase Elliott. Though both drivers had issues — Elliott a wreck during qualifying that sent him to a backup car and the back of the field; and Buescher a pit road speeding penalty — Buescher won a drag race to the stripe to come home sixth to Elliott's seventh and leads the standings by 27 points over the defending champion.
But the final 43 laps of the event were vintage Kyle Busch. Restarting seventh on Lap 157 after the seventh caution of the afternoon, Busch surged into second place in a single lap. For the next 28 circuits he harried teammate and eventual runner-up Matt Kenseth before clearing his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate through Turn 4 on Lap 185.
Busch survived a green-white-checkered after Joey Gase's engine blew and oiled the 1.5-mile track with five laps left. Picking the outside lane, Busch cleared Kenseth entering the first turn and pulled away to win by .607 seconds.
"I wasn't sure we had enough for that 20 car (Kenseth) today, but there at the end of the race, the track was cooling down and certainly getting freer and it looked like Kenseth just was too loose," Busch said. "And I was able to really get the gas down and drive real hard and had a good car to stick through the corner.
"This Monster Energy Camry was awesome, (crew chief) Chris Gayle and the guys did a fantastic job for me in getting me a really good piece there at the end to be able to battle with Matt, and it's cool to end up in Victory Lane any day… I wasn't sure how I was going to get the pass done, but fortunately, finally there I was able to do it."
Kenseth suffered a loose handling condition late in the race and couldn't keep Busch behind him.
"It's frustrating to get beat again," said Kenseth, who has finished second in each of his last four XFINITY Series starts. "We were out front in Chicago and had the better car, but second is the (next) best place to finish, I guess.
"Kind of aggravating when you get beat, but we were too free at the end. I didn't give Wheels (crew chief Mike Wheeler) good enough information on the tires. I did everything I could to hold off Kyle except for wrecking. Just couldn’t do it."
Joey Logano finished third, followed by fourth-place Ty Dillon and fifth-place Regan Smith.
Busch would like nothing better than to duplicate his victory in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas (2:15 p.m. ET on NBC). After a 20th-place finish last Sunday at Charlotte in the first race of the Chase’s Contender Round, Busch could earn a spot in the Eliminator 8 Round with the ninth XFINITY/Sprint Cup weekend sweep of his career (including his three-series sweep at Bristol in 2010).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How were you able to hold off Matt Kenseth in the last quarter of the race?
“It looked like Matt (Kenseth) was just really loose that last run. Chris Gayle (crew chief) did an awesome job tuning me in and getting my car really, really good that last run. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better. I think our balance overcame them and was able to put us in victory lane. Can’t say enough about everyone from Monster Energy and Toyota, this Toyota Camry was fast today. I thank the XFINITY bunch of guys to put on our show that we enjoy on Saturdays and of course the fans for coming out and supporting us too. This was a good day for us and something to kind of build off of hopefully and see what we can do tomorrow."
How hard were you battling with Matt Kenseth?
“My tongue was hanging out man, I can’t imagine what Matt (Kenseth) felt like. He was driving way harder than I was. When you have two really good race cars like that, you just better bring them home without tearing something up. He raced me really, really hard on the straightaways and through the corner my car was really good in the middle part of the race track and Matt, I could see him and he was trying to move around, he just couldn’t really find anything that would tighten up his car enough to be able to put the gas down and I had plenty of that."
Were you worried about the damage to the car when you found out about the hole in the brake duct?
“I was nervous a little bit at how big the hole was and if we could get it repaired and how good the repair would have been. Obviously ‘Heavy Duty’ did a great job there at putting it back together for me and getting a good patch on there. Restarting seventh I was like, ‘Man, we just threw it away,’ I didn’t think we were going to be able to come from that far back, but we got a really good restart and the outside lane didn’t and I got up to the outside getting into turn one there and then that was pretty much our race. I just chased down Matt (Kenseth) after that and again, it was just a hard fought battle there with Matt. We were really running really, really hard and this place is so, so fast for the XFINITY cars, you’re barely out of the gas if at all any. Those last two laps there at the end of the race with that green-white-checkered finish, I was wide open the whole time. I was just praying it was going to stick and it was going to be good enough to win."
How strong was the car in the race?
“It was, I wasn’t sure we had enough for that 20 (Matt Kenseth) car today, but there at the end of the race the track was cooling down and certainly getting freer and it looked like Kenseth just was too loose and I was able to really get the gas down and drive real hard and had a good car to stick through the corner. This Monster Energy Camry was awesome, Chris Gayle (crew chief) and the guys did a fantastic job for me and getting me a really good piece there at the end to be able to battle with Matt and it’s cool to end up in victory lane any day, but I appreciate XFINITY and the fans and everybody coming out here. That was a good show I thought from my driver’s seat anyways on battling with Matt. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get the pass done, but fortunately, finally there I was able to do it."
How were you able to go from seventh to second on the restart?
“The inside lane got a good restart, all of us were bumping each other and pushing and we all stayed in line thankfully and the outside lane was kind of spinning tires or whatever and kind of bogging up, falling back a little bit. As soon as I saw just enough of a gap, I kind of shot the middle there getting into turn one to the outside and I was able to pass the 88 (Kevin Harvick) and then the 18 (Daniel Suarez) down the backstretch and then set my sights on the 20 (Matt Kenseth)."
Do you expect the track to widen out in tomorrow’s race like today?
“No doubt, tomorrow we’re going to be up running the fence tomorrow. We were last fall, I don’t think the XFINITY race got quite that high here last year, but obviously seeing the tapes everybody kind of found that out and they moved it up. Tomorrow we’ll be up running around the wall, it will be a good race and hopefully it’s good where you can make some time on the bottom if you need to or through the middle or even on the top side. Last year the race was won up there on the top and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow."
Would there be a chance to take two tires in tomorrow’s race?
“Possibly, I think if you had a short enough amount of laps on tires you might have that ability to be able to do something like that. Let’s say everybody gets four and you go 10 or 15 laps and you’re kind of within a fuel window then you need to come and take two for track position and you can take the rights or the lefts, just kind of depends on where you’re at in the race and how many to go. Like (Chris) Gayle (crew chief) said, it depends on strategy and what you feel is going to be left it the race. He took the lefts because he thought the next time down everybody was just going to take rights and we were going to be on the same tire cycle. It turned out to work well and it could happen tomorrow, but probably not."
Does the win here today help your confidence for tomorrow?
“To win here in the Xfinity Series, it does bode your confidence a little bit, it gives you a little bit of good feeling for going into tomorrow’s race. Our Cup car was really not very good all day today and we kind of struggled with it and we’ve got our work cut out for us tomorrow, but I’m sure the things I talked with Adam (Stevens, NSCS crew chief) after practice and stuff, hopefully he can fix those things. If he fixes my problems then I think we’ll have a decent day. It’s just a matter – this place is so fast that we saw it here last year, it was hard to pass for the lead. I think I did it on somebody and then again today I had to do it on (Matt) Kenseth, but that was only because Kenseth didn’t have the balance in his race car at that point, but the Cup race man, it was a race up top and it was between (Joey) Logano and (Kyle) Larson and I was third. It’s so hard to pass, there’s so much speed up on the topside of the race track with throttle on time and momentum down the straightaways that it becomes a race that even though the track is really wide and you can go wherever you want, it’s just when you go low you make time up on entry and center, but then the center exit that top lane really works all the way down the straightaways so hard to make passes sometimes."
What do you remember about your first NXS victory of your career?
“My first win was in the Busch Series and it was Richmond and it was the week before my birthday or two weeks before my birthday, I don’t remember how the schedule worked out that year. I should have won a couple before that, but didn’t. I won at Richmond then I won again at Charlotte a couple weeks later. We’re at 75 now, I don’t know if you get to 100 and call it good or what you do. Fortunately I’ve been in a good situation with Joe (Gibbs) and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing to race in the Xfinity Series and if we’ve got sponsors that continue to want to be on my race car and to go out there and to put a good show on then I’ll continue to do it. It’s a job, it’s a paycheck for these guys and it’s fun for me to be able to do and to collect trophies and also just kind of set that mark a little bit higher, hopefully nobody will get it."
When you ran your first Busch Series race did you expect to get to 75 wins in the series?
“I don’t think I ever would have said I’d get to 75. I think I remember Mark Martin at that time was around 40 or 42 when I started and I was like, ‘That’s a lot of wins.’ Now it’s 75. I’m stretching it, I’m trying to put it out there where it may never be reached again, but if it is ever reached again then I’m sure that driver will be hated just as much as I am."
CHRIS GAYLE, crew chief, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How was the team able to come back from the adversity of the pit road penalty and the damage from the debris?
“That’s really big and I think if you really look at it, obviously the pit road speeding penalty we had to go to the back there and came back and took left side tires and you basically start all over again. I think Kyle (Busch) did a great job of once you do that, he’s going as hard as he can and we kind of looked at the fuel situation we’re in and it kind of changes your focus at that point. You can be pretty aggressive on strategy, whatever it takes to try and get back to the lead and if it doesn’t work, guess what, you’re going to be in a better situation than you were. It let us change focus a little bit there and when we were able to take those left side tires, get caught up on fuel with everybody kind of knowing that everybody is going to come back in and at most take right sides again and then we would be even on tires then we were able to get the lead again. Kyle did a great job of holding off Matt (Kenseth) and the 2 (Brian Scott) car there for those laps and that was the difference. Then we think everything is in position and get that caution and then run over that piece of debris, knock a hole in the right side nose and it’s like, ‘Oh man, I have to get this fixed, it’s a big hole in the nose,’ but you don’t want to give up the lead and you know coming off pit road there that could be the end of the race. Then we fell back to seventh trying to fix the nose, thankfully Kyle stuck with it, gave it everything he had and the great restart was the difference. Then the balance was close enough to finish it off."
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Reser’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What was the difference at the end of the race?
“We just got too free there at the end. I think (Kyle Busch) got his car better and I just couldn’t hold on. We were really loose. I fought as hard as I could, but he got by me. It was a heck of a recovery – I’m still trying to figure out how he went from eighth on the restart and out of turn two in second. I have no idea how he did that. At the end of the day, he beat us."
How was your race with another runner up result?
“It’s frustrating to get beat again. We were out front in Chicago and had the better car, but second is the best place to finish I guess. Kind of aggravating when you get beat, but we were too free at the end. I didn’t give Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief) good enough information on the tires. I did everything I could to hold off except for wreck. Just couldn’t do it."
Is it better or worse to finish second to a teammate?
“As much as I love Kyle (Busch) and he’s a teammate and we play into the success. On TV it gets aggravating to watch him win all the time. It’s even more to get beat by him. I thought we had a shot today with our Reser’s Camry. This is our last XFINITY Series start for a long time, so I was hoping to get a win for them."
How was the battle with your teammate Kyle Busch for the win?
“I thought most of the day we had the best car and at the end there we got too loose there at the end. Kyle (Busch) even though he put himself in the back twice, he figured out how to make it happen again. That was kind of aggravating. It was a good day for us. I think we’ve ran five races this year and that was our fourth second (place) in a row. It’s good, but it’s also aggravating – I would have liked to go out of the season with a win for sure. We just couldn’t hold off Kyle and got too free. I tried everything, held him off longer than I thought I could, just couldn’t make it happen."
Can you transfer anything from the XFINITY race to Sunday’s Cup race?
“Not really, I feel like every time you drive a race car you’re learning something. You either learn what not to do, or what to do and pick up a little bit here or there. The cars are a fair amount different, same race track, same tire, same conditions. You always like to think you learn something, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what right now."
What was the turning point of the race?
“I think the first time Kyle (Busch) sped and got two tires and got in front of me, even when you have the best car but get behind somebody, it’s not the best car. Most of the day I led that whole part, but because you’re driving away from everyone you think you have the best car, but when you put it in the back, that might not be the case. Earlier in the day I could get away from Kyle pretty good. I could pretty much dictate how hard I wanted to run and lead, not easily, but as the day went on it got harder and harder for us to do that."
Did you think any other drivers would challenge for the win?
“Really just Kyle (Busch), but you never know what’s going to happen on a restart. Some people get push in these cars, unlike the Cup cars you can bump draft more going up through the gears you’re so low on power, so somebody can always get a good run. NASCAR’s been doing a good job making sure people can’t lay back real far. I was really concerned about getting rolling good and hoping Ty (Dillon) could push me a little bit and get alongside Kyle, but Kyle got rolling and almost cleared me right away and Ty couldn’t quite get to my rear bumper. When Kyle was in front of me going into turn one, it was pretty much over."