HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Cale Gale nipped Kyle Busch to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway while James Buescher locked up his first series championship.
Gale wasn’t even in contention for much of Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200, but a late-race crash moved Gale and the No. 33 Eddie Sharp Racing Chevrolet into the picture.
Ty Dillon, trying to gain enough points to win the series championship, was battling Kyle Larson for second with three laps left. Larson went low entering turn three in an attempt to take second from Dillon, but the two made contact. Both cars ended up in the turn four wall, with the crash also collecting Ryan Blaney.
Through the mayhem, Gale somehow emerged in second place alongside Busch for the green-white-checkered restart. Gale fell in behind Busch on the restart, but entering turn one on the last lap Gale got a run on Busch and pulled to his inside.
The pair raced side-by-side down the backstretch and through turns three and four. Coming out of turn four the pair made contact and they stayed glued to each other as they crossed the finish line, with Gale edging Busch .014-second to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
“I can tell you right now, coming off of four, that is not my driving style. It was my first chance to taste NASCAR victory and I knew it was Kyle Busch, but I don’t get opportunities like that very often,” said Gale, the ninth first-time winner in the series this season. “I’ve had a great opportunity this year. I don’t know what is in store for me next year, so I had to take it while I could.
“It has been a long road. I’m just a racer from South Alabama,” Gale said.
While Gale celebrated his first victory, Buescher got to celebrate his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. His 13th place finish gave him the championship by a scant six points over Timothy Peters, who ended Friday’s finale in eighth.
“It was close. Ty and everybody at RCR gave us a run for it at the end,” Buescher said. “I guess he crowded the No. 4 (Larson) and they went up into the wall. We were getting everything we could out of this Great Clips Chevy. It wasn’t wanting to go forward. It was maxed out on speed. It was loose, it was flying around. I just about went in the fence myself. I held it together and everything came our way.
“It’s not all just about this race. It has been a long season. This truck has done a lot for us this season. It won us four races and now won us a championship. I can’t thank all these guys on this Turner Motorsports team enough,” Buescher said. “Everybody on this team has done a fantastic job.”
Joey Coulter ended the season third in the championship standings, followed by Dillon in fourth and Parker Kligerman in fifth. Despite the disappointing finish his championship hunt, Dillon still earned the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Award.
“I hate it had to come down to us hitting the wall like that,” said Dillon, who was within one point of Buescher before the crash with Larson. “I feel bad for my guys, but I’m really proud of them. What a year. Not very many rookies get to go through the things that we did this year.
“I’m really proud of this year, we learned a lot and I’m ready for next year,” Dillon said.