The Nationwide Series ran at O’Reilly Raceway Park for the 29th time on Friday night in a race that has had the same sponsor every year, making it the longest continuously-running race sponsorship in NASCAR. Trevor Bayne took advantage of his pole position by starting on the outside and grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag. Bayne led the first 39 laps of the race before Kyle Busch was able to come from his fifth-place starting position and grab the lead. Busch led from that point through a surprisingly long green-flag run for ORP until the first caution of the event flew for a spin on the front straight by Derrick Griffin. Busch led the race off pit lane but lost the lead to Bayne after the first green-flag lap following the restart. Bayne led for 16 laps before Busch was able to reel him back in and resume the top spot in the race. From that point on Busch was never overtaken for the lead, even though there were six total caution flags in the race and the final one resulted in a green-white-checkered restart.
Busch did have several challenges during the race. Early on, Ron Hornaday looked like he was going to be a serious threat to pull off the weekend sweep at ORP, but his car wasn’t as strong after the 150-lap mark and he ultimately was caught up in a wreck with Jason Keller that ruined his night and parked him on lap 162. Carl Edwards pitted for tires on that caution while Busch chose to stay out. As the race was drawing to a close it looked like that might have been a strategic error as Edwards was rapidly closing as the laps were winding down. However, when the final caution flew it gave Busch just enough time to cool his tires and pull away on the restart to keep Edwards behind him.
Aric Almirola had a great race in a one-off ride for JR Motorsports in the No. 88 car. After wrecks in successive weeks in the Truck Series, it was a much-needed boost for Almirola, who acknowledged in his post-race interview that he was frightened at the start of the race when the cars starting in front of him stacked up and he almost smashed in his front grill before completing a single lap. He also added “ORP is one of my favorite racetracks. It is a half-mile but it races so much different. You can run two-wide, you can run three-wide, it is just a lot of fun.”
Busch was asked after the race how he was able to hold on for the win during the GWC finish. “I just knew that I had to get going and I had to get a good launch. You know me, if you want to call Ron Hornaday the restart king, I smoked him tonight. Better relabel that one.”
Asked about being able to dominate a race without running any practice laps Busch commented “These guys, they build such great racecars from the shop. It’s all back on them. They did a great job for me.”
Busch was the Wix Lap Leader of the race for the 10th time in 16 races this season, leading 144 of 201 laps. He has led a lap in all 16 races that he has entered this year. Busch leads the YTD Wix Lap Leader competition 10-3 over Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick. The victory is Busch’s 38th in Nationwide Series competition. He is now 10 races behind Mark Martin for the all-time series lead.
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