HAMPTON, Ga. – Move over Ron Hornaday, there’s a new king in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Kyle Busch broke a tie with Hornaday for the most wins in Truck Series history on Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, making it look effortless in the process. He led 92 of 130 laps in the Ultimate Tailgating 200 en route to his record-setting 52nd career victory.
Busch tied Hornaday in his last start of the season last year, and made it clear prior to the start of the new season that he was determined to take his place in the record book. Now, he’s done just that.
“This win certainly means a lot,” noted Busch in victory lane. “I want to thank everybody at Cessna and Toyota and our amazing partners that get us here and allow us to do what we do. I can’t say enough about my guys. Everybody here at Kyle Busch Motorsports, they do a phenomenal job.”
On a day plagued by wacky weather and a persistent mist late in the going, the one constant was Busch. He took the top spot for the first time on lap six – with an incredible sixth to first charge, no less – and dominated the rest of the way.
Not even an extra pit stop at the first stage break, necessitated for a loose wheel, could stop Busch’s incredible roll. He charged from 24th to first in the second stage before completing the sweep later on.
The only hindrance to Busch’s day came after the race, when he began celebrating in victory lane.
“I slipped getting out,” Busch chuckled. “It’s a little wet out here in case you all didn’t notice, but it was a great race out there.”
It actually appeared that Busch had the race sewn up with nine laps to go, after the red flag was displayed for a multi-truck accident on a lap-118 restart that saw Parker Kligerman nudge Jesse Little around in the quad-oval, with chaos ensuing and others like Austin Self and Spencer Boyd involved.
At that point, the mist that had hung around all afternoon began to get thicker, with the track becoming too wet to continue on without track drying assistance.
With young teammate Harrison Burton running second under the red, Busch was hoping for an early end to the night and a quicker start to his celebration.
“I wish we could have ended it then,” Busch admitted. “I would’ve rather haven seen Harrison (Burton) finish second. I’m not sure how far he fell (on the final restart), but he ran a great race today. That was cool to see the 18 (Burton) right up there as well with the Safelite AutoGlass truck.”
The final restart came with three laps left, and Burton dropped back quickly in the inferior outside lane, while former series champion Johnny Sauter came through behind Busch to finish second in just his second race back with ThorSport Racing.
Sauter revealed after the race that he had actually a plan in mind as he was chasing Busch at the end.
“Honestly, I was kind of trying to wreck him. I just couldn’t get there,” said Sauter of Busch. “I was locked on to him and I was hoping he would spin out, but he did a great job of blocking.
“It’s a good start. I’m happy with our effort,” Sauter added. “We just need a little bit more. When I go back and watch the replay, I hope I’m not kicking myself in the butt for not making that move to the top … but honestly, at that point I didn’t feel like I could get it done (down low).”
Sauter’s ThorSport teammate Grant Enfinger completed the podium, followed by defending series champion Brett Moffitt and a third ThorSport Ford in Ben Rhodes.
Ross Chastain and Daytona winner Austin Hill were sixth and seventh, respectively, while Burton faded to eighth in the final rundown ahead of Todd Gilliland and Timothy Peters.
“The outside lane is just really bad here, especially when you’ve got Kyle Busch to your inside,” Burton said. “I thought I got an alright launch at first, but going from third (gear) to fourth was where I really struggled with spinning the rear tires.
“I’m bummed out. I raced my butt off all night, and just didn’t get things to go my way,” Burton continued. “I want to win one of these things really damn bad, so this one kind of hurts a bit.”
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.