Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Kyle Busch saved his best for last to win Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Busch was not that much of a factor in the first half of this 300-mile event, which was plagued with nine caution, mostly for accidents. The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota took the lead for the first time on lap 125.
After a late-race round of pit stops under green, Kevin Harvick had inherited the lead. Harvick ran in front for a total of 47 laps, but with 21 laps to go, Busch pulled ahead of his fellow Sprint Cup Series competitor to take the top position for good.
Busch crossed the finish line 0.8 seconds ahead of Harvick for his Nationwide- leading sixth win of the season and the 69th of his career. It was the second time he won a race in the series at Kansas. His first victory here occurred in 2007.
"There was a bit of moving around today and trying to run bottom and trying to run top and seeing where the different lines were in traffic and stuff like that," Busch said. "Great effort by (crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and all the guys on this 54 car. It was really awesome again today."
The 400-mile Sprint Cup race at this 1.5-mile track is scheduled for Sunday. Busch, who is one of the 12 drivers remaining in the championship Chase, qualified seventh on Friday. Kansas has been one of Busch's worst tracks in NASCAR's premier series. He has scored only two top-10 finishes in 14 starts here.
"I feel like our Cup car is OK," Busch said. "If we can get out of here with a top-10 tomorrow, that would be pretty good."
Last weekend, Busch led the final 101 of 200 laps to win the Nationwide race at Dover, his record fifth victory in the series at that track.
Ryan Blaney, a regular in the Camping World Truck Series, finished third, driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske. Harvick was behind the wheel of the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. He was attempting to win on a 1.5-mile track for the fourth time in the series this season.
"I could hold (Busch) off for a short run, but in the end, his car would maintain speed and mine would slow down," Harvick said. "We just got beat there today, but that happens."
Paul Menard placed fourth, and rookie Ty Dillon, the pole sitter, was fifth.
Matt Kenseth, who won this race one year ago, Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne and Brian Scott finished sixth through ninth, respectively.
Chase Elliott's 10th-place finish coupled with a 22nd-place run for Regan Smith, his teammate at JR Motorsports, allowed Elliott to increase his lead in the Nationwide championship standings from 26 points to 38 over Smith. Four races remain (Charlotte, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead).
Smith had to start the race from the rear of the field in a backup car after crashing his primary vehicle in qualifying, which was held earlier in the day. He then experienced a mechanical problem during the race, which put him eight laps behind.
"Anytime you have to roll a backup car out two hours before a race, you have to expect anything to happen," Smith said. "My guys did a great job of getting the car ready to where we could get to the grid with it, much less be competitive for the first stage of the race."
Earlier this week, Smith signed a one-year contract extension with JRM as driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet in Nationwide.
Rookie Chris Buescher led 20 laps in the early going, but Buescher was caught up in an accident with Sprint Cup regular Kyle Larson on lap 91. Larson spun out in turn 2 and then hit the wall before he slid down the track and collected Buescher.
"That was the only time I got loose, and that caught me off guard," Larson said of the incident. "I just lost it. I hadn't been loose one time all (Friday) or today."
Buescher spent more than 50 laps in the garage for repairs before he returned. He finished 28th. Larson was out of the race with a 30th-place result.