Kyle Busch dominated the Help a Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Friday night, starting his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota from the pole and leading most of the race en route to his fifth series win of the season in eight starts. It was JGR's seventh win in the last eight Nationwide races at Darlington.
Joe Gibbs Racing claimed the top-three spots in the finishing order and four out of the top-five, with Elliott Sadler finishing second in the No. 11 Toyota, Matt Kenseth third in the No. 18 and Brian Vickers fifth in the No. 20. The lone non-JGR driver to finish in the top-five just happened to be a former Joe Gibbs Racing driver -- fourth-place finisher Joey Logano in the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford.
"It was a hard-fought top-five; that's for sure," Logano said. "I felt like we were a seventh-place car."
Although all four Joe Gibbs Racing entries posted top-five finishes, the race wasn't flawless for most of them. Sadler spun while running second to bring out a caution on lap 49, and during that caution, Busch lost several spots on pit road when his jack man fell while servicing the car. Later in the race, Vickers had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a tire issue on lap 91 of the 147-lap race.
"We got back on a pit stop and had to work our way back up to the front," Busch said.
Busch led the way until the lap 49 caution. The No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne got off pit road during that yellow flag to restart with the lead. Busch restarted sixth. Joe Gibbs Racing wasn't denied the top spot for long, though. Within one green flag lap, Kenseth was by Kahne and in the lead.
Kenseth then pulled away from most of the field, but Busch was making his way toward the front. Although, he quickly got by everyone else who restarted in front of him, it took Busch awhile to get by his teammate, Kenseth. Busch finally reclaimed the lead on lap 83.
The field cycled through green-flag pit stops around lap 108, 17 laps after the unscheduled stop for Vickers. The fourth and final caution of the race came out on lap 119, allowing Vickers to get back on the same pit sequence as most of his fellow competitors.
Busch again lost spots on pit road, but this time around it was because of pit strategy. Busch took four tires, while a few others stayed out or took two. Logano and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon stayed out to restart on the front row. Sadler took two tires to restart third, and Busch led those who took four to restart fourth.
"We had four tires," Busch said. "You just can't do that (stay out or take two) with that many laps and expect to hold off anybody."
Busch quickly moved into second on the restart. With 17 laps to go, he got by Sadler to take the lead. Sadler also got by the two cars that stayed out to claim second.
"Great pit stops," Sadler said. "Great call to get two tires there at the end."
Sadler took responsibility for not being able to get by Busch for the win.
"Just driving over my head," he said.