Busch Pounces Late For 65th Truck Series Victory

Busch

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo)

HAMPTON, Ga. – Kyle Busch may have sold his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team’s assets to Spire Motorsports, but he hasn’t forgotten how to find his way to victory lane.

The Truck Series’ all-time winningest driver added another jewel to his crown Saturday afternoon, assuming command on lap 129 of the Fr8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after Grant Enfinger suffered a flat tire and leading the final seven laps en route to his record-extending 65th career win.

For Busch, his Spire debut was his first race with a team other than his own since the 2009 season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, when he was with Billy Ballew Motorsports before founding KBM.

The end result, however, was what fans have come to expect almost any time Busch straps in for a Truck Series race: a win, a burnout, and a bow.

“I actually got a run on the [No.] 9 truck [of Enfinger] down the backstretch,” said Busch of the pass for the win with the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado. “[His tire] must have been going flat down the backstretch and slowing down because it gave me — it sucked me up right to him. Then he got loose in the corner. I got loose in the corner. We all checked up trying not to crash.

“Thankfully, we didn’t [crash], but I thought that was a big moment,” Busch added. “We got the lead right there, and after that, it was about trying to protect it. [Ty] Majeski was a bit of a wing man today. Appreciate him — and the history we’ve had together, growing up racing late models with him a lot in Wisconsin and around those parts.

“That was a lot of fun. Great to get Chevrolet to victory lane.”

After Christian Eckes and Busch split the two stage wins to start the afternoon, the run to the finish began with 69 laps to go and saw Matt Mills lead his first career laps before a rapid surge by race-long dominator Tyler Ankrum saw the Californian go from 13th to the lead in just six laps after the restart.

From there, three separate debris cautions – with 57 to go, 42 to go, and 36 to go – segmented the proceedings, but the last of those allowed Dean Thompson to go to the lead after a huge drafting shove from Ty Majeski on a lap-100 restart.

Thompson was the control vehicle for the ensuing green flag with 31 to go, but got shoved into the third lane coming to the flagstand after apparently missing a shift and fell back as Ankrum and Grant Enfinger went to war for the lead up front, with Enfinger down low and Ankrum up on the high side.

Coming to 27 to go, Enfinger sliced up in front on Ankrum after being pushed clear to the lead by Daytona winner Nick Sanchez, taking control of a freight train against the outside wall as the laps wound down.

That advantage held until seven laps left, when a cut tire relegated Enfinger to pit road and out of contention, while Busch – who had risen to second at that point – and Majeski led a train of trucks past.

From there, Busch held off Majeski over the final five laps, taking the eventual win by .187 seconds after blocking the only potential passing lane in turns three and four coming to the finish line.

“I had a run, and I got to Kyle’s bumper,” lamented Majeski, who nipped Corey Heim for runner-up honors in a photo finish by .009 seconds. “I knew he was going to cover the bottom. My only shot was to try and fade right, get to his quarter panel. That was the only shot that I had.

“Overall, super proud of the day. The truck was a little ill-handling in the beginning. (Crew chief) Joe Shear made some great calls, tightened me up a little bit so we could go racing.”

Heim was third ahead of his TRICON Garage teammate, Taylor Gray, with Daytona winner Nick Sanchez closing the top five.

Sixth through 10th were Kaden Honeycutt, Tyler Ankrum, Rajah Caruth, polesitter Daniel Dye, and Dean Thompson, who led his first Truck Series laps from lap 100 to lap 103 following a final-stage restart.

Ankrum was the dominant driver on the afternoon, leading seven times for 46 laps, but was shuffled back in the low groove after Enfinger passed him for the race lead with 27 to go.

After winning the first stage, Eckes retired on lap 50 with brake issues. He finished last in the 33-truck field.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season continues Friday night, March 1, with the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Busch is the defending event winner.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.