It’s typically not a good thing for the competition when drivers check the race entry list in the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch is on it.
Busch cashed in on another invasion of the Truck series Friday night, rebounding from a pit-road issue to win the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 by .468 of a second over Brendan Gaughan.
It was Busch’s 112th win in NASCAR’s top three series and his 31st in trucks.
Busch’s victory chances took a hard hit on lap 84 as he left his pit with the gas can still attached to his truck, a violation. He returned to pit road to serve a stop-and-go penalty, dropping him from the lead to 19th for the restart.
“The race was fun,” Busch said. “We ran up front. Had a fuel issue there on pit road. Can never make one of these things easy, that’s for sure. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it all the way back to the front. Some of those late cautions helped me to get in position to get the lead.”
Busch led 14 laps early in the race and later was up front for 52 straight. He led the final 14.
The win was the first for Rudy Fugle, Busch’s crew chief.
Gaughan was chasing Busch in the final laps but Busch stalled his momentum by disturbing the air between the two trucks with three laps to go.
“I was catching him,” Gaughan said. “Then he moved up to my groove for one corner of one lap and took the air off my nose. He knew he was going to do it, and I knew he was going to do it. I’ll be ready for it next time.”
Following Busch and Gaughan was Max Gresham, who scored the best finish of his Truck career. Also in the top five were Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon. Crafton kept the point lead and now is 22 points in front of second-place Jeb Burton.
A few minutes after Busch’s pit-road problem, the field had barely returned to speed when Ron Hornaday Jr. blew a tire and floated up the track and into the path of Jake Crum, whose truck suffered major front-end damage after he plowed into the rear of Hornaday’s vehicle.
That crash brought out the night’s fifth caution flag.
Johnny Sauter, formerly leading the points and entering Friday’s race in second place, was knocked out of the race with 20 laps to go when James Buescher bumped him into the wall in the fourth turn. Earlier, Sauter had bumped Buescher in traffic.
Rookie Darrell Wallace Jr., running in the top five, crashed out of the race with 12 laps to go after drifting up into Brad Keselowski. That incident occurred at almost the same time as a Justin Lofton crash brought out the eighth caution.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.