Thunder Valley lived up to its reputation with the close racing and finishes. Kyle Busch notched the NASCAR Nationwide Series win over Kyle Larson by a “fender”
The win in Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Saturday came down to a battle between two Kyles -- Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Kyle Larson in the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet. In the end, Busch claimed the win, his fifth in Nationwide competition to tie him with Kevin Harvick for most all-time series wins at the track; he now has ten wins at Bristol with his five victories in the Cup series.
"Still trying to figure out how I won it," Busch said to crew chief Adam Stevens over the radio right after the checkered flag.
Busch took the white flag in the lead with Larson right behind him. When the two drivers encountered slower lap traffic, Busch went low leaving the high side open for Larson.
Wish it was a little easier on my end.
"I just did everything I could to protect the momentum, and I knew the No. 70 (ML Motorsports Chevrolet of Brad Teague) was going to be slow up top," Busch said.
The No. 70 did slow Larson up slightly, but he was able to get by and pulled up between Busch's No. 54 and the outside retaining wall just before the checkered flag. Busch won by a fender.
"Wish it was a little easier on my end," Busch said of the second-closest Bristol Nationwide finish in history.
Justin Allgaier started on the pole in the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet and led the early laps until the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne and the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Brian Scott got off pit road first and second by taking only two tires during a caution that came out around lap 60.
Busch first moved into the lead when he passed Bayne on lap 76 of the 300-lap race. He kept that lead, staying out during a couple of cautions. The No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski also stayed out with Busch to move into the second spot. When both drivers pitted with the rest of the field during a caution just past the halfway point of the race, Keselowski beat Busch off of pit road to take the lead.
The No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Regan Smith then got by Busch on the restart to claim second. On lap 188 Smith made contact with Keselowski while racing him for the lead, enabling the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick to take second from Smith. Keselowski's car sustained a tire rub from the contact with Smith the resulted in a blown tire and contact with the wall a few laps later. Harvick was able to take advantage and move into the lead.
Harvick and Busch restarted first and second after the caution brought out by debris from Keselowski's incident and raced side-by-side for several laps until Busch took the lead with 64 laps to go. A few laps later, Larson joined Busch and Harvick up front for a three-car battle for the lead.
The three ran first through third until Harvick opted to give up the third spot to pit for fresh tires with 35 laps to go. As a result, Busch and Larson restarted first and second, while Harvick restarted eighth.
Busch was able to run up front, keeping Larson behind him the rest of the way. Harvick, meanwhile, was able to get back up to fifth by the finish.
Brian Vickers finished third in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. finished fourth in the No. 12 Penske Racing Ford.