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In a race that was dominated by loose trucks, hard hits and tight racing, Kyle Busch won his fourth Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in his fourth try Friday night. Stewart Friesen finished second after mounting a battle with Busch in the closing laps. Johnny Sauter, polesitter Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.
Stage one wasn’t too kind to Kyle Busch Motorsports as Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton both found themselves in the wall in separate incidents within the first dozen laps. Gilliland managed to continue and salvage a 14th-place finish, while Burton, despite his team’s attempts to repair the truck, was out after running just 12 laps.
“I haven’t seen any replays or anything, but it felt like the 45 just got really close and took the air off our spoiler, and that’s hard to avoid here,” Burton said. “Everyone is racing so hard for position, and you have to get aggressive here, especially on these restarts, because on the green flag when you get a little bit more strung out, it’s so hard to pass. Man, I hate that so bad.
“We had a good truck and we made a good charge on the first restart and went from 10th to sixth – I think – so I was pretty excited about that. I was looking forward to the rest of the race, but I didn’t quite get to run it. Hopefully, we come back on the next one and win, but right now I kind of want to scream.”
Thorsport Racing teammates Enfinger and Ben Rhodes were side-by-side to end stage one with Enfinger taking the green and white checkered flag and the playoff point.
Stage two was on fire. Literally. Anthony Alfredo’s third NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start ended up in a ball of flames as he crashed midway through stage two. Hard driver side contact with the outside wall in Turn 2 caused the truck to catch fire. Alfredo was checked and released from the care center, though his truck was done for the night. The large amount of fluid spilled by the No. 54 Toyota forced a 15 minute, 51-second red flag to clear the track.
Stage three was relatively uneventful, with the exception of a pair of single-truck spins by Korbin Forrister and Codie Rohrbaugh.
Brett Moffitt, who chased down Busch and took the lead from him early in stage three, looked like a strong contender for the win until late in the going. In a three-wide battle for the lead, Rhodes got loose, slid up the track and made contact with Rhodes. The damage to the No. 24 Chevrolet was enough to force him down pit road with a flat tire. Moffitt ended the race 19th, four laps down.
Despite the left front damage, Rhodes managed to maintain a 10th-place finish, though he had been racing with the leaders when the contact happened.
Tyler Ankrum, Tyler Dippel and Brennan Poole each scored their first career top-10 finishes in sixth, eighth and ninth, respectively. Ross Chastain ended up seventh in his fifth top 10 in five races this season behind the wheel of the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet.
The Truck Series is off through the entire month of April before returning to the track the first weekend in May at Dover International Speedway. Race winner Kyle Busch has just one scheduled race remaining at Charlotte Motor Speedway.