RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Busch led from start to finish, usually by plenty, and ended an eight-race NASCAR Nationwide Series winless streak Friday night with his fifth career victory at Richmond International Raceway.
Busch started on the pole, routinely built leads of several seconds and was never really challenged.
Busch said he hoped he would be strong, but “you never think you are going to be that good.”
It was the second time in Busch’s career that he led a race in the series from start to finish. He also was the last person to accomplish the feat, the first time coming in Phoenix in February 2011.
“Good car, good decisions and good executing there tonight,” Busch said in Victory Lane.
Kevin Harvick appeared to be closing in on him with about 40 laps to go, and said his car was stronger than Busch’s on long runs, but that the final caution eliminated any chance he had of overtaking the leader.
“It took about 30 laps for us to swing the time the other way,” Harvick said. “Just didn’t have a chance after the last caution come out. I think we would have caught him if that caution doesn’t come out.”
Harvick won the April race at the track for his record seventh Richmond series victory.
The sixth and final caution bunched the field for a restart with 18 laps to go, and Busch again made quick work of his competition, cruising to his record-extending 67th victory in the series. He won by 1.323 seconds.
Busch said he did consider what would happen if he lost the lead after being so dominant.
“It crosses your mind, for sure, but you just think about the situation,” he said, and planning in advance not to get too worked up, but to remember how he got in front and work to regain the lead.
“I planned all that ahead,” he said. “Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it.”
It was the fourth victory of the season for Busch, but first since May 31 at Dover. He’s finished second four times since, including two weeks ago at Bristol when he led 161 of 300 laps, but Ryan Blaney beat him on a restart with six laps to go.
“Pretty pumped about being back in Victory Lane, being back in Victory Lane here at Richmond,” Busch said. “It’s been a while when you think about it.”
Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott overtook Harvick after the final restart to claim second. Harvick was third, followed by Blaney and Brian Scott. Regan Smith, who is second in points, finished sixth and went from 15 points down to 19.
Like Harvick, Elliott thought he might have had a chance to close in without the final caution flag.
“We made gains really throughout the night and we were getting closer and closer,” he said.
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