Home / Beth Lunkenheimer / Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Busch Closes Out Perfect Season With a Win in Charlotte
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Busch Closes Out Perfect Season With a Win in Charlotte

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In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch dominated the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night (May 18). The driver of the No. 51 Toyota led five times for 102 of 134 laps en route to his fifth win in five starts this season.

“A couple of years ago I shot for [going five-for-five], wanted to have it and I think we only got two or three,” Busch said after the race. “Overall just wish I could do more. It’s frustrating that you’re limited because you’re too good at what you do. I’d love to be able to go out here some more and win with my team and all my guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports and for our partners here with Toyota and Cessna, Beechcraft and anybody else.”

Brennan Poole scored a career-best finish of second, followed by Stewart Friesen, who pitted under the final caution for a set of tires the team had on the No. 52 Chevrolet earlier in the race. ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes and polesitter Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Regardless of how you feel about Kyle Busch racing in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, he simply had the truck to beat from the drop of the green flag. And though a late-race caution and a restart with three laps to go threatened to set up an upset and allow another driver to steal the win, Busch held onto the top spot and cruised to the win.

Race Rundown

Brennan Poole Scores Career-Best Runner-Up Finish

Last Friday night (May 11), Brennan Poole, who signed on to run the full season with On Point Motorsports, was forced to sit out the Digital Ally 250 at Kansas Speedway due to a lack of sponsorship. But fast forward to this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Poole had Mad Vapes sign on with the team (and an incredibly sharp paint scheme).

Fast forward to Charlotte and the three-lap shootout to end the race, thanks to debris from Brett Moffitt‘s tire coming apart, and Poole nearly had a shot at winning. After a short battle for the lead, he faded back to a career-best second-place finish.

“I had a shot at Kyle (Busch). I was pushing him down the backstretch,” Poole said with a smile on his face. “I probably could have pushed him off into turn 3 a little bit farther and maybe shot him up the track and got a little bit better run off of Turn 4. When I knew I didn’t quite do that right when I slid up, I tried to tag him at least like get some side draft or touch him or slow him down and I just couldn’t quite get there and it was just enough for him to break away from me.”

On the surface, a second-place finish seems like a great night, but it wasn’t without its struggles for the No. 30 team.

“It was a freaking battle,” Poole explained. “The sway bar broke before the end of the first stage on the left front, so the front end was really moving around a lot. The truck was unsettled and it really hurt me with lateral grip, so I was struggling when I got beside a truck so I had to run the top.

“I just found something there toward the end of the race that helped me on the restarts and (Steven) “Bones” (Lane), my crew chief, made good adjustments and man I just ripped the top.”

For Poole and On Point Motorsports, there’s likely hope that a strong showing with Mad Vapes on the hood could translate into more sponsorship to keep them on the track for the remainder of the season.

“I’m just so proud of my Madvapes guys. Everybody from MyBlu that supported us this weekend. It’s a bummer we missed Kansas, but the stuff that this team does, extremely underfunded is just ridiculous. To run second tonight with a broken sway bar, I don’t really have much other to say than that.

“Just incredible effort and we’re going to Texas in a couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to going back and doing this again.”

Anthony Alfredo Leads DGR-Crosley Teammates, Scores Career-Best Finish

When the green flag flew over Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night, it’s likely that most people watching would have expected Tyler Ankrum to carry the banner for DGR-Crosley. After all, he scored a sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in his first mile-and-a-half race earlier this year.

Instead, it was Anthony Alfredo, running a third truck for the organization, who carried that banner.

After a disappointing early exit from his most recent start at Texas Motor Speedway in March, the rookie was able to take advantage of the speed he had while staying out of trouble all night long. By the time the checkered flag flew, Alfredo was the only driver in the DGR-Crosley trio still running, managing to walk away with a career-best finish in eighth. Even that doesn’t tell the whole story as he restarted 15th with just three laps remaining after pitting under the final caution of the night.

Meanwhile, teammates Natalie Decker and Ankrum failed to finish the race at all.

Decker was involved in two incidents twice before the end of stage one.

Ultimately, she could not meet minimum speed after the team made repairs to the No. 54 Toyota and was forced to retire to a disappointing 29th-place finish. It was Decker’s third DNF in six starts this season. An average finish of 23.7 has got to be weighing on the rookie as she’s had a miserable season. Her best result of the year came in a 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On the other end of that spectrum, Ankrum did have a sniff at the front of the field and made some incredibly impressive moves on a restart with 45 laps remaining. He found himself in a three-wide battle for the lead that was two rows deep and made a move that ended up costing him a solid finish.

Multiple trips down pit road weren’t enough to keep the No. 17 Toyota going until the checkered flag flew and Ankrum was forced to end his night in the garage with a 27th-place finish.

Ross Chastain Keeps Top-10 Streak Alive Despite Late Race Stackup

Just one week removed from Ross Chastain‘s Cinderella story victory at Kansas Speedway last Friday night, he kept his top-10 streak alive with a late-race charge to 10th after restarting 12th with two laps remaining.

Staying out on old tires earlier in stage three, the driver of the No. 45 Chevrolet faded outside the top 10 as the laps wound down, but a late-race yellow allowed Chastain to get four fresh tires and a shot at rocketing his way through a field of drivers who had already put their final set on earlier in the race.

But when the green flag flew with three laps remaining, Johnny Sauter didn’t get going and stacked up the field behind him, including Chastain, ultimately ended a run of what could have been.

Though he was able to recover and move up to 10th by the time the checkered flag flew, the loss of speed and damage to the front end of the truck had been done. Given that Friesen pitted for cold tires that had been on the truck previously and was able to race his way to third, it’s likely Chastain could have scored a much better finish that he did with a sticker set.

Despite that, Chastain now has eight top 10s in eight starts for Niece Motorsports this season. He is not eligible to race the next three events at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Gateway Motorsports Park (ahem… World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway… that’s a mouthful) as they are part of the Triple Truck Challenge introduced this season.

Additionally, Kyle Benjamin will take over the No. 45 for seven races, beginning with the series’ next event at Texas. He’ll pilot the truck through the Triple Truck Challenge, along with Pocono Raceway (July 27), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 10), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Aug. 25) and in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 15).

Benjamin has a pair of Truck Series starts at Martinsville Speedway last season for DGR-Crosley. He finished second in his series debut after leading 74 laps and ended up fifth in the fall race with just six laps led.

Quick Hits:

  • For those of you that simply can’t stand Kyle Busch racing in the Truck Series, you can now watch for the remainder of the season. The driver of the No. 51 Toyota made his fifth and final start of the season at Charlotte Friday night and is not eligible to race in the series for the remainder of the year.
  • ThorSport Racing continues to show its strength this season. While Sauter was the worst finishing truck on the team for the second race in a row, the other three drivers ended up inside the top 10 once again. Rhodes and Crafton were fourth and fifth, respectively, while Grant Enfinger ended up ninth. The four drivers (plus Myatt Snider, who’s made just two starts in the No. 27 Ford) have three poles, one win, 16 top fives and 26 top-10 finishes in a combined 34 races.

Rookie Report
2019 Rookie of the Year Candidates:

No. 02 – Tyler Dippel
No. 2 – Sheldon Creed
No. 12 – Gus Dean
No. 17 – Tyler Ankrum
No. 18 – Harrison Burton
No. 54 – Anthony Alfredo/Natalie Decker

Number of Rookies in the Race: 7

Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 1; Anthony Alfredo, finished eighth

Rookie of the Race: Alfredo

Points Update: Grant Enfinger maintains his hold on the championship standings with a 15-point advantage over Stewart Friesen. Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes sit third and fourth and are separated by a single marker. Matt Crafton rounds out the top five, just three points behind teammate Rhodes.

Johnny Sauter sits sixth, followed by Austin Hill in seventh. Todd Gilliland holds the final playoff spot in eighth, though teammate Harrison Burton is just one marker below the cutoff line in ninth. Sheldon Creed rounds out the top 10.

Tweetable:

Up Next: The Gander Outdoors Truck Series takes the next two weekends off before heading to Texas Motor Speedway to begin the Triple Truck Challenge. It will be the first event in a three-race stretch where winners will be awarded $50,000 per victory, with the potential to win up to $500,000. Race coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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About Beth Lunkenheimer

Beth Lunkenheimer
Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 13-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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4 comments

  1. Avatar

    The best reason not to watch. The TV numbers can’t be good.

  2. Avatar

    I did not watch the race. The outcome was predictable. Kyle Busch won again. Keep up the good work nascar. Kyle dominates in the kiddie pool again. Nice headline!!