LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick had Saturday’s TheRaceDayRaffleSeries.com 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway all to themselves until Harvick forced Busch up the track on a lap-164 restart, opening the door for James Buescher to join the party.
The final dozen laps turned into a three-way brawl, complete with a dirt-track style slide job that eventually landed Busch in victory lane for the fifth time in 11 Camping World Truck Series starts this season. It was his 21st career Truck Series win and his 80th NASCAR national series triumph, counting 40 in the Busch/Nationwide Series and 19 in the Cup Series.
Busch was credited with leading 156 of the 175 laps, Harvick 11 laps and Buescher eight circuits. For most of the afternoon Harvick hung a few truck lengths behind Busch, moving up to challenge on the low side numerous times and occasionally slipping past in traffic. Buescher was not a contender until the closing stages.
The closing drama was set up when Mike Harmon spun to set up the restart with Busch choosing the outside and Harvick the inside. Harvick rode Busch almost to the wall in turn one, and Buescher, restarting third, was delighted to drive through the opening into the lead.
He stretched it to a safe margin of nearly a second only to see the yellow flag make an unwelcome return when Ron Hornaday, Jr. banged the outer wall in turn three.
When the green flag waved for a green-white-checkered finish, Busch dived to the bottom of turn two and slid up in front of Buescher, giving the wall a good slap as he broke Buescher’s momentum. Busch denied Buescher his first Camping World Truck Series victory by .28 second.
Harvick stayed out of the scramble at the finish to take third ahead of Matt Crafton and rookie Austin Dillon. Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, Aric Almirola, Todd Bodine and Bobby Hamilton, Jr. completed the top 10.
By finishing one spot behind his nearest challenger, Almirola, Bodine preserved a 257-point lead in the standings.
Busch claimed it took 20 laps under the green flag for his setup to work at its peak. As a result, he had to make the pass at the final restart under less-than-optimal conditions.
“I knew I had to have a good run through turns one and two. If I didn’t clear him off turn two, he was going to run all the way down the back straight and side draft me and get back alongside me and get me loose in turn three,” Busch related. “I knew I had to clear him regardless of what was going to happen. I tried rubbing off on him a little bit and he was still there and it turned me into the wall. It was a hard hit. It knocked my helmet crooked.
“I wasn’t sure what I had going down into turn three, but those guys got to racing back there and it felt fine through turns three and four,” the winner continued, adding a postscript that summarizes his racing philosophy: “You have to do what you have to do in order to win the races coming down toward the end, and the last restart on a green-white-checker, you got to go.”