By Reid Spencer – NASCAR Wire Service
CONCORD, N.C.— Winless in his last seven starts in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, Kyle Busch broke what was for him a major drought with a victory in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch, who owns his own truck, charged from the back of the field after a pit road penalty to win in the series for the first time since Sept. 24, 2011 at New Hampshire. The victory was Busch’s fifth at Charlotte and the 31st of his career in 107 starts.
Brendan Gaughan ran second, .468 seconds behind Busch, with the race decided in an eight-lap green-flag run to the finish after the eighth caution of the night. Max Gresham finished a career-best third, followed by series leader Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon.
“It was an eternity—the starts were spread over a year and half,” Busch said of his seven-race winless streak. “It certainly was frustrating last year that (crew chief) Eric (Phillips) and I weren’t able to get to Victory Lane. We only ran three starts, and in all of those three starts, we were a really good truck and had a shot to win in all three of those…
“We’ve been fast. These guys do a good job, (crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) here, taking over for my stuff on the No. 51with a smaller team—it’s only him and a couple of other guys that are full-time for it… These guys do a lot of work for being so small and just coming out here trying to knock out some wins.”
Busch had led 66 laps by the time Tyler Young’s spin caused the fourth caution of the race on Lap 82. On a fuel-only pit stop under yellow on Lap 84, Busch drew a penalty for dragging his gas can out of the pit stall and restarted on Lap 88 at the rear of the field.
Undeterred—and using the penalty as an opportunity to take four fresh tires–Busch carved his way through the field and had just taken over the seventh position when hard contact between the trucks of Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jake Crum—after Hornaday cut his right front tire–brought out the fifth caution on Lap 94.
After a spate of cautions, Busch finally regained the lead, passing Miguel Paludo for the top spot a lap before a pair of simultaneous wrecks caused caution No. 8 on Lap 122. A crash near the front of the field eliminated Darrell Wallace Jr. and damaged the truck of Brad Keselowski.
Note: The victory was the first as a crew chief for Fugle…Busch now has 113 wins in NASCAR’s top three series combined…Gaughan scored his third straight top-five finish and climbed three spots to fourth in points… Crafton leads in the series standings by 22 points over polesitter Jeb Burton, who finished 13th.
PHOTO CREDIT: Drew Hallowell – Getty Images