Seventh win for Kyle Busch at Bristol
The top-two in the finishing order of Saturday's Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway mirrored the top-two from last year's race at the track, with the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch scoring another Bristol win and the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Kyle Larson claiming runner-up honors. It was Busch's seventh-career Nationwide win at Bristol and his third-straight. It was a fourth-straight Bristol win for crew chief Adam Stevens.
After the race, Busch credited changes made by Stevens and the No. 54 crew for the race win.
"The biggest thing was how the track changed from practice," Busch said, adding that his team had to make adjustments throughout the race.
Sprint Cup Series drivers dominated the race, with Busch and Larson joined by fellow-Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth in the top-five. Harvick finished third in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
"I flet like we were actually better than both of them (Busch and Larson) at the end," Harvick said, explaining that his inability to get by them for the win was due, at least in part, to getting caught on the botton on a late-race restart.
"Kenseth was lightning fast most of the day, and I had a hard time catching him," Busch said.
The only other two lap leaders in the race were Busch, who led 120 laps, and Larson who led the first two laps of the 300-lap event.
The other top-five finisher was Camping World Truck Series regular Ryan Blaney, who finished fourth in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. The highest-finishing Nationwide championship-eligible driver was Ty Dillon, who finished sixth in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
Larson started on the pole, but Busch took the lead on lap three, and Larson was soon also passed by Kenseth and Harvick for second and third. Kenseth took the lead on lap 30 and set such a blistering pace, resulting in only six cars being on the lead lap by the time the second caution of the race came out on lap 95. During that caution, Larson garnered his first-career Nationwide Series pit road speeding penalty, sending him to the back.
For much of the early going, the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Regan Smith and the No. 62 Richard Childress Chevrolet of Brendan Gaughan were the only cars of Nationwide regulars on the lead lap, until the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Chase Elliott got the free pass when the yellow flag waved on lap 135 and several other drivers, including Dillon and Brian Scott in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, among others, took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.
Busch was in the lead, with Kenseth in second on a restart following a caution with 87 laps to go, and he managed to keep the lead for the remainder of the race. Larson got by both Harvick and Kenseth on the final restart of the race with nine laps remaining, but was unable to pass Busch for the win.
Kenseth, stuck on the inside on the restart, lost an additional position to Blaney in the closing laps to drop back to fifth by the finish. "Every restart, I was on the bottom," Kenseth said.
Other drivers finishing int he top-10 included Gaughan in seventh, the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne in eighth, Elliott in ninth, and Smith in 10th.