LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch turned another dominating afternoon into his sixth NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in 10 starts this year, leading 190 of 200 laps in the AutoLotto 200 en route to his fifth career series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Busch led the first 92 laps from the pole, but ceded the top spot to teammate Erik Jones on the 93rd round, moments before a caution flew for debris that sent most of the leaders onto pit road for service.
Led by Alex Bowman, four cars stayed out under the caution flag and set up Jones and Busch to restart from fifth and sixth, respectively.
Neither of them stayed there long.
On the restart at lap 100, Bowman jetted out to a quick advantage as Busch soared around the outside lane three-wide to take second, with Jones slotting into third as the Joe Gibbs Racing cars tracked down the leading JR Motorsports Chevrolet. From there, it only took two more circuits before Busch was alongside Bowman and at lap 103, he made the pass stick to reclaim the lead for good.
The Las Vegas native and defending Sprint Cup champion ultimately took two tires on his final pit stop with 32 laps to go, weathering two caution flags and a heavy charge from Jones in the final 14-lap dash to the checkered flag to notch his record-extending 82nd career XFINITY win.
“I was a little bit nervous on those last few restarts,” admitted Busch, who broke a three-year series drought at Loudon with his first XFINITY win there since 2013. “Erik got a good restart (with 19 to go), got to my inside a little bit and stayed there … and did the same thing on the last restart too, but he ran me clean. He gave me room and didn’t door-slam me or anything to try and get the win and I respect that.”
“Our cars were pretty equal, I felt like. Today was just a matter of track position. I felt like the four tires he took would pay off for him, but they really didn’t. That’s just Loudon, though. That’s what this place is, is about track position. We had a stout car, we had the track position and it all paid off.”
Busch also pushed his career laps led total in the XFINITY Series over 17,000 during the course of the day, extending another of his impressive series records.
Jones chased the eventual winner all day long, save for the three laps he led after passing Busch in the first half of the race, but ultimately had to settle for a second place finish.
The news wasn’t all tough, however, as NASCAR confirmed following the event that Jones officially locked up his Chase berth with his performance — providing he attempts the remaining nine events before the Chase kickoff at Chicagoland Speedway in September.
“I don’t know what the difference was between Kyle and I today, honestly,” Jones said. “If I had to chalk it up to something, it would be clean air. I think we were just as good, if not a little better, when we were up close to him.”
However, Jones lost several car lengths navigating traffic during the final run that allowed Busch to sneak away.
“We had a lapped car (Ryan Preece) right in the groove off of (turn) two and that just took all the pressure off of him,” he explained. “At that point, he wasn’t worried about making a mistake. If we could have stayed a little closer we could have maybe forced him into a mistake — that’s how we got around him earlier in the day.”
“All in all, though, we did a good job getting the car better after not being where we wanted to be all day yesterday. We got it up to really being the class of the field, along with the 18, and that feels good but we want a little bit more. We’ll keep working at it, hopefully get better and try to go out and beat him straight up next time.”
Brad Keselowski finished third behind the JGR duo, followed by Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon.