Busch on top

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

No mat­ter the cir­cum­stances, Kyle Busch al­ways seems to fig­ure it out at Ken­tucky Speed­way. Busch took the lead dur­ing a late cau­tion on lap 168 Satur­day and held on to win the 300-mile NASCAR Xfin­ity Se­ries race in Sparta, Ky. The race had been post­poned a day ear­lier be­cause of storms, cre­at­ing a 700-mile dou­ble­header for Busch and sev­eral other Cup drivers.

SPARTA, Ky. — No mat­ter the cir­cum­stances, Kyle Busch al­ways seems to fig­ure it out at Ken­tucky Speed­way.

Busch took the lead dur­ing a late cau­tion on lap 168 Satur­day and held on to win the 300-mile NASCAR Xfin­ity Se­ries race. The race had been post­poned a day ear­lier be­cause of storms, cre­at­ing a 700-mile dou­ble­header for Busch and sev­eral other Cup drivers.

Start­ing the first of two races on the pole, Busch led three times for 70 laps to earn his second con­sec­u­tive se­ries vic­tory at Ken­tucky and third over­all on the 1.5-mile oval. Though less dom­i­nant than last July’s tri­umph from the pole in which he led 185 laps, Busch’s strong car and wise pit strat­egy yielded a fa­mil­iar re­sult.

Pit­ting ear­lier for tires and fuel paid off for Busch, who stayed on the track dur­ing the fi­nal yel­low flag. There was no catch­ing his No. 18 Toy­ota af­ter the restart, though Ryan Blaney tried his best on the fi­nal lap af­ter pass­ing Erik Jones’ Toy­ota for second.

“We did what we needed to do to be there at the end,” Busch said. “We took four tires and that kind of got us be­hind there with two pit stops to go, and then some of those guys came in again. Ob­vi­ously, our car was re­ally fast out front and once I got in clean air I didn’t think any­body had any­thing for us.”

Blaney’s Ford fin­ished 1.097 sec­onds be­hind, a strong re­cov­ery af­ter he was pe­nal­ized for a pit road tire vi­o­la­tion dur­ing the cau­tion.

Kevin Har­vick was fourth in a Ford, with Ty Dil­lon fifth in a Chevy.

“I thought the right call was to pit and we just had a vi­o­la­tion,” said Blaney, who led twice for 52 laps and won the second stage. “That stings. It al­most stings worse run­ning all the way up there and fin­ish­ing second than if we would have fin­ished 10th or some­thing.”

Busch soon blew out the left rear tire that served him well while do­ing the cel­e­bra­tory burnout.

Jones led twice for a race­high 77 laps and won the first stage of a race that ini­tially fea­tured more fits than starts.

The green flag was still wav­ing when de­bris start­ing fly­ing mid-pack. Ryan Reed’s No. 16 Ford col­lided with Bran­don Jones’ Chevy to trig­ger a chain-re­ac­tion wreck.

AP/TI­MOTHY D. EASLEY

Kyle Busch (18) won the NASCAR Xfin­ity Se­ries Alsco 300 by 1.097 sec­onds over Ryan Blaney Satur­day at Ken­tucky Speed­way in Sparta, Ky.

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