Kyle Busch led 186 laps en route to a dominating victory in the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. It was a record seventh CMS win for Busch and his overall in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Busch’s victory was the most dominant in a 200-lap Nationwide Series race at Charlotte since 1986, when Dale Earnhardt led 194 laps en route to the win.
Kasey Kahne looked like he might have something for Busch after a series of late cautions set up a dash to the finish, but the No. 5 faded in the final alps while the No. 54 rolled to the win. Joey Logano, rookie Kyle Larson, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 5, with Larson the highest finishing Nationwide Series regular in the race. Larson’s charge through the field in the second half of the race, using the high groove to pass several cars, had the young driver closing on the leaders before a string of cautions shuffled the field.
The first half of the race was a test of patience for race teams. Austin Dillon started from the pole but quickly faded, leading just one lap and finishing 14th. The caution didn’t fly for the first 39 laps, until debris in turn three brought the yellow flag out of hiding. Close racing on the restart led to a second yellow flag at lap 47 as Robert Richardson, Johanna Long and Reed Sorenson were all involved in a crash that ended Richardson’s day and caused damage to both Long’s and Sorenson’s machines. The third of seven cautions, for debris, flew at lap 88. The field would not see another caution until lap 154.
That yellow flag came out on that lap for debris once again. The final 43 laps were punctuated by three more caution periods, starting at lap 166 with a spin by Travis Pastrana, who hit the inside wall on the backstretch hard enough to lift all four wheels off the ground, reminiscent of Denny Hamlin’s hit at Fontana that sidelined Hamlin for more than a month, but unlike that crash, there was a SAFER barrier where Pastrana slammed the wall, and the driver walked away unhurt. John Wes Townley and Joe Nemechek also sustained damage trying to avoid Pastrana and the cars checking up around him.
Just seven laps after the race went back to green, Sorenson spun in Turn 2 for caution number six, and the field went back to green for just two laps before the final caution came out on lap 185 for a crash between Dakoda Armstrong and Michael Annett, who was making his first series start since being injured in a crash at Daytona.
That incident set up the 13-lap shootout between Busch and Kahne before Busch pulled away for the win, leaving Logano and Larson to duke it out with Harvick for the rest of the top 5. Trevor Bayne finished sixth, and Justin Allgaier, Matt Kenseth, Parker Kligerman, and Regan Smith rounded out the top 10.
Busch was quick to credit his team after the victory. “It was a really great race for us,” said Busch in the media center at Charlotte after the race. “We’ve had a lot of fast race cars this year, and it’s a testament to our team and (crew chief) Adam Stevens and the work that the guys put in. They do such a great job for me, and being able to go out there with some good-driving cars and lead a lot of laps and put them in Victory Lane, I think it’s just a true testament to how good our organization is and how hard these guys work. They never forget what they’re supposed to do. We have to have good race cars from practice and qualifying and into the race, and so having those adjustments all set and having things ready to go is what makes us look so good. “
Smith leaves Charlotte with a 29-point advantage over Hornish in Nationwide Series standings. Allgaier moves into third, 40 back of Smith, and Elliott Sadler dropped to fourth after finishing 13th. Sadler’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Brian Vickers, holds on to fifth spot after a pit gamble didn’t pay off, leaving Vickers, who had been racing with the leaders, with an 11th-place result. Kligerman, Dillon, Brian Scott, Larson, and Alex Bowman finish off the top 10 in points.
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