Kyle Busch Scores Historic Truck Win At Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. - Not rain or fog or a loose wheel could keep Kyle Busch out of victory lane at Atlanta.
Busch bounced back from a loose wheel early in the second segment of Saturday’s Ultimate Tailgating 200 for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race to score the victory in dominating fashion.
The win came as the rains that threatened the Hampton, Georgia area all day increased while the field sat under a red flag due to a multi-truck crash with 13 laps to go.
After track drying was complete, the field completed the remaining five laps, with Busch running away from Johnny Sauter for the win.
The victory makes Busch the all-time series win leader with 52 victories, snapping a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday, Jr.
“It certainly means a lot,” Busch said. “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 had Billy Ballew on board with us here today and Billy’s right over here as well. It took getting Billy Ballew back on my truck to be able to get me a win here, so we might have to make that an annual recurrence. I can’t say enough about my guys. Everybody here at Kyle Busch Motorsports, they do a phenomenal job.”
After winning the first segment easily, Busch took the lead again early on in the second segment. But a vibration brought the No. 51 Toyota back to pit road under a debris caution on lap 53.
The only challenge to Busch came early in the final segment of the race, when Johnny Sauter pushed past him for the lead. Eight laps later, Busch sailed back into the lead easily.
From there, Busch drove away from all the competition en route to the victory.
“I slipped getting out (of the truck). It’s a little wet out here in case you all didn’t notice, but it was a great race out there,” Busch said. “I wish we could have ended it. I would’ve rather haven seen Harrison (Burton) finish second. I’m not sure how far he fell, but he ran a great race today.”
The biggest moment of the day came on a restart with 14 laps to go, when Jessie Little spun his tires back in the pack. He was tagged by Parker Kligerman from behind, setting off a multi-truck crash on the frontstretch that led to a red flag to allow for clean up. In all, five trucks were involved.
As the field sat under the red flag, the precipitation began falling harder. NASCAR began rolling the field under caution in an attempt to keep the track dry. After another red flag condition for track drying, the race was finally resumed, with Busch going on to the win.
Sauter finished in second, with Grant Enfinger third, Brett Moffitt fourth and Ben Rhodes in fifth.
Ross Chastain, Winston, Georgia's Austin Hill, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliliand and Timothy Peters rounded out the top ten.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 1st
You said you wanted the all-time wins record last year. How sweet is it to be able to check that box?
“It was certainly a big deal for me and a big deal for our team. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and these guys, they prepare some awesome trucks as do (Mike) Hillman (Jr.) and Marcus (Richmond). Certainly it’s a lot of fun to be able to come out here and race with my own team and to have Cessna as well as Toyota and TRD support and everybody that gets us to the track. To be able to go chase after records, that’s not what we’re here to do. We’re just here to go out there and compete and win and do what we can and obviously everything that has tallied up over the years is getting us to this point. We just continue to strive to do our best and today it was really really good. The Tundra was awesome. It was flying out there so it felt really good and nice to be able to get it in the first start and to hopefully be able to go five for five this year. That’s what your ultimate goal is, but we’ll see what all we can get done.”
What is it about the inside lane that makes it so dominant and do you expect the same thing tomorrow?
“It’s tough man. I don’t know why it is. There’s kind of a different color tone to the asphalt. I don’t know if it has to do with the asphalt mix or whatever when they paved this place that now you can definitely tell the difference between the inside lane and that outside lane. Also, the inside guy has a straighter launch than the guy on the outside – he’s always kind of turning so that’s something to be said for it. Overall, it’s just some places are that way. This is the worst for the launch. The application of throttle to not spin the rear tires is so crucial here and it’s so easy to do when you’re in that outside lane.”
What does 52 wins mean to you?
“It certainly means a lot. 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 had Billy Ballew on board with us here today and Billy’s right over here as well. It took getting Billy Ballew back on my truck to be able to get me a win here, so we might have to make that an annual recurrence. I can’t say enough about my guys. Everybody here at Kyle Busch Motorsports, they do a phenomenal job. Rowdy Manufacturing – I really want to thank Monster Energy, Adidas, DVX Sunglasses, Black Clover and of course the fans too. I slipped getting out. It’s a little wet out here in case you all didn’t notice, but it was a great race out there. I wish we could have ended it. I would’ve rather haven seen Harrison (Burton) finish second. I’m not sure how far he fell, but he ran a great race today. That was cool to see the 18 (Harrison Burton) right up there as well too in the Safelite AutoGlass truck.”
Todd Gilliland said he was amazing at how fast your truck was. Is there anything you’ll tell him about what you were doing tonight?
“Absolutely. We debrief and go over film and look at things all the time. I don’t know how many times last year we were in meetings and I was just yelling at them about let’s go. Our stuff is not that slow. You got to get up on top of the wheel and make it happen. Obviously we kind of proved that here tonight. Harrison (Burton) did a great job for one of his first starts at a 1.5-mile track, especially at Atlanta. This place is not easy at all and he ran a solid race. He was right there all day long. A couple of restarts got him messed up I know. He wasn’t able to quite get the finish that he deserved there, but ultimately I was happy to see Harrison as good as he did and Todd, we certainly have to work with him and continue to bring him up and get him filled in on what it takes to be fast at these places. We’ll hopefully be able to get him places because you know his career is on the line. You don’t get very many chances at this and I’m sure that we’ll hopefully be able to get him going better. He should have run two races last year, no question about it, but obviously it just didn’t happen. He’s got to show up this year and make it happen.”
Why are you so good at these restarts where you can just blow by them like a video game?
“I don’t know. I really don’t. I know last year (Brett) Moffitt was really good. Him and I we battled at Vegas the whole race and he was really good there. He was a guy that I had to race with to try to beat for the win. I didn’t see him tonight much and then of course Johnny (Sauter) is one of the best here each and every year in this season. Now, being back at ThorSport Racing, I thought that would kind of hinder him a little bit, but there he was tonight all night long being right there in second place and leading some. He passed us for the lead. Really I hope it works for me on the Cup side as well too because those Cup cars drive a lot like these trucks and we’ll see how that happens and what we can do to make myself perform on Sundays.”
For somebody who started in this series so early in life, what does this win mean to you – can you enjoy it?
“It’s cool. It’s a great accomplishment, but my aspirations aren’t to go out there and set records. My aspirations are to go out there and win every single race. I started 1,000 races and I’ve only won one hundred and ninety something of them, you know what I mean. So there’s been way more disappointments than there’s been thrills of victory. This one is certainly good. It’s big. I’ll be way bigger years down the road once I’m all said and done and maybe the record will hold, who knows? Overall, the focus now is just what you said, it’s tomorrow. I have to go back tonight and spend some time with Brexton and play with him for a little bit and put him to bed and then get back into the computer and start figuring out what the hell I’m going to do for tomorrow to make sure I’m not an idiot again.”
When you reflect on getting the record tonight, is it significant to you to have had a chance to race against some of the other guys that were considered the greats in this series?
“No question. As much as (Ron) Hornaday and I probably didn’t like each other and couldn’t stand each other back in the day, it was a thrill to race against him and to compete against him and to beat him, to lose to him. The other names that are out there – Jack Sprague for instance. Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine, all the greats that I ran against. I mean I ran some races against (Kyle) Larson, like I said, (Tony) Stewart like I said. (Matt) Crafton has been here forever. He’s won a ton of races. Johnny Sauter right now. The list goes on of all the guys that I’ve been able to race against in the Truck Series and it’s been fun to do. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been especially fun too because of the way that I did it with (Billy) Ballew who – we had nothing. There were times where we had four trucks and that’s all we had and then we had a two-truck team and we ran Billy broke too many times over again, but he kept digging and he kept pulling through and figuring out how to get us to the next race and it was amazing the success that we had with that group at that shop and then to form my own team and to be a part of that with (Rick) Ren and Eric Phillips and now Rudy (Fugle) has kind of taken the lead role on that and having Marcus (Richmond) and (Mike) Hillman (Jr.). I competed against Hillman. I hated Hillman years ago and now I have him at my place and understand why he was as good as he was back then. It’s been a fun time to reminisce and think about all the great people that I’ve raced against and competed against and have lost to and beat.”
RUDY FUGLE, crew chief of No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
What does it mean to be a part of a moment like this?
“Right now it’s kind of hard to think about it. I haven’t tried to wrap myself up into it too much. I’ve only worked with Kyle (Busch) one year really as crew chief for him, so it was a successful year, but it was a long time ago. Just trying to figure out how to translate and how to be successful with him compared to having brand new rookie kids usually like I’ve had the last few years. Everything is different. Just trying to make sure we were prepared. Either way it’s really cool to be a part of it and be a part of so many wins at KBM and be able to lead such a good group of people at KBM and everybody at TRD and stuff.”
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