CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott became the first competitor since 2018 to beat Kyle Busch in NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series competition on Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Entering Tuesday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200, Busch was riding a wave of seven-straight Truck Series victories dating back to Pocono Raceway on July 28, 2018. Elliott put an abrupt end to that streak with his victory on Tuesday night.
By ending Busch’s winning streak, Elliott earned a $100,000 charity bounty put up by NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick and Gander RV & Outdoors owner Marcus Lemonis that was offered to any Cup Series driver who could beat Busch in Truck Series competition.
The $100,000 earned by Elliott will be donated to a COVID-19 relief fund of his choosing.
“Glad to win and do some good for the relief efforts for this virus,” Elliott said after climbing from his No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado.
The victory on Tuesday came in Elliott’s first Truck Series start since 2017, when he won at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway while also driving for GMS Racing.
Elliott, who was in contention for most of the event and also won stage two, had to fend off Busch late in the race. He took the lead for the final time on lap 111 after overtaking Johnny Sauter shortly after a lap 109 restart.
Busch, meanwhile, was marching his way up through the field after a pit stop for tires during a caution period following a caution flag on lap 97 for debris and a spin by Garrett Smithley. Busch was 12th on the restart lap 109 restart, but within one lap he was in the top-five.
Three laps after Elliott took the lead, Busch moved past rookie Zane Smith to take over second. He quickly turned his attention to Elliott, chopping into Elliott advantage little by little each lap.
With 12 laps left in the 134-lap race Busch had closed to within half a second of Elliott. Busch tried everything he could, but he couldn’t get any closer than that in the final dozen laps. Elliott ended up crossing the finish line .627 seconds clear of Busch to earn his third Truck Series victory in 13 career starts.
“He was a little better than I was there at the end. I’d gotten tight and I don’t think we adjusted enough on that last pit stop. I was a little scared to (adjust the truck). I really didn’t know exactly what I needed or what these things did as time went on,” Elliott said. “Luckily the right-front stayed on it until the end and I think he burned up his stuff pretty hard trying to get to me.”
Elliott said that while beating Busch and earning the bounty for COVID-19 relief was good, he was taking part simply for the challenge of beating Busch in the Truck Series.
“I was in it more for the challenge than I was for anything else,” Elliott said. “I was in it just to come out and run with Kyle and gain some more practice and I enjoyed that.”
Busch said his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra had a broken part on the truck that the team didn’t discover until after the race started, which hindered his ability to chase down Elliott in the closing laps.
“It doesn’t help showing up to the race track with broke parts on your truck,” Busch said. “That was a problem from the get-go. We didn’t have our right-front stopper right. We were all over the splitter. So we came in (to the pits) and didn’t know it was broken. So had to fix it with a makeshift piece and then it was way too high and we tried to fix it (again) and it just never was right.
“We were out in left field the whole night. Never really had a great feel for the truck, a great driving truck. Just salvaged what I could.”
Smith, making just his fourth Truck Series start, finished third in his GMS Racing Chevrolet. Brett Moffitt finished fourth and Sheldon Creed was fifth to give GMS Racing four trucks in the top-five.
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