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Kyle Busch wins 201st NASCAR race at Martinsville

by Amy Henderson
Saturday, March 23, 2019

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Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch

Stewart Friesen led the field to green under a cloudless blue sky at Martinsville Speedway, and for the first eight laps, held off a charging Kyle Busch.  But from lap nine on, Busch had the early command, quickly opening up a 10-truck length lead over Friesen. From there, there were comers and goers in the TruNorth Global 250, but at the front it was the Kyle Busch show, as he led 174 of 250 laps.

No other driver led more than 53 laps on the day (Ross Chastain). Truck Series regulars led just 23 laps on the day (Friesen led 18 and Austin Hill led five).

Early on, four-time Martinsville winner Johnny Sauter was on the move, moving into third by lap 20 after starting eighth and second soon afterward. Late in Stage 1, though, Sauter’s engine began to miss, and he fell to third late.  A handful of laps before the green and white checkered flag fell, the caution flew for Gus Dean’s detonated engine, and the cleanup took the field until the end of the stage. Busch took the stage win and then led the field to pit road. Busch was first out of the pits as well, with Friesen second and Matt Crafton moving up to third, but a penalty for Crafton for an uncontrolled tire meant he’d start at the back of the field. Sauter’s team fixed a plug-wire issue on the stop, hoping it would put him back in contention.

Austin Hill stayed on track during the stage break, but was no match for Busch’s fresh tires. Ross Chastain looked like he might run Busch down from second, and was able to stalk Busch’s bumper for almost 50 laps, when a spinning Daniel Sasnett brought out the caution.  Friesen and Brett Moffitt stayed on track, and the strategy worked for Friesen, but Chastain and Busch made quick work of Moffitt. Chastain got past Moffitt on the outside, allowing him to clear Busch and catch Friesen quickly. Ben Rhodes passed Busch for third as an impatient Chastain worked his way past Friesen for the lead, giving the slower No. 52 a tap after Friesen tried to block him as Stage 2 quickly wound down. A battle between Friesen and Rhodes allowed Chastain to open up his lead in the final stage laps.  Chastain took the stage by almost a second over Rhodes, Busch, Friesen and Moffitt.

Chastain held point until 65 laps remained, when Busch powered by just as Johnny Sauter limped to pit road after a cut tire and the caution flew as Sasnett spun a second time.

Cautions tend to lead to more cautions late in a race at Martinsville and Saturday was no exception.  Cory Roper was next to go around with just over 40 laps left in the race, allowing some of the leaders to get their last sets of tires bolted on for the run to the finish.

Busch got away from a charging Ben Rhodes and appeared to have a comfortable lead of a second with 10 laps to go, but then a Tyler Dippel spin with seven laps remaining changed the complexion of the race one more time, putting Busch on defense for the restart instead of the offensive he had been on before the caution. Busch got a jump on the restart with three laps to go, though, and was able to drive away and take the white flag.  A spin on the final lap ended the race under caution, and Busch took his 201st national series win.

“It was a case of being patient,” Busch said after the race. “Obviously with trying to go 150 laps to the end of the race on one set of tires is a long way to go, so we just kind of wanted to bide our time and take it easy, make sure we didn’t push too hard. We didn’t need to go up there and get any stage points or anything like that so the opportunity for us to just kind of ride was given to us. We knew the 52 (Stewart Friesen) was going to pit, so I kind of let the 99 (Ben Rhodes) go and was riding in fourth and going to inherit third on a restart. All of the battling ended up ensuing there anyways. Awesome day. These guys gave me a great Cessna Beechcraft Tundra. It was awesome to drive. It wasn’t so awesome yesterday. We worked really, really hard on trying to make this thing better and improve this truck and our program and all of the other trucks as well too.”

Rhodes finished second, Moffit third, Chastain fourth and Friesen finished out the top 5. Myatt Snider, Grant Enfinger, Crafton, Sauter and Bubba Wallace rounded out the top 10.

Friesen leaves Martinsville with the series point lead, taking over from Grant Enfinger, who now sits second, four points back after finishing seventh. Moffit is third, on point behind Enfinger, with Sauter and Harrison Burton making up the rest of the top 5.  They’re followed by Rhodes, Crafton, Hill, Todd Gilliland and Creed in sixth through 10th.  The series is next scheduled to race Friday night, March 29th at Texas Motor Speedway.

Quotes

KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 1st

You fell back as far as fourth in the middle of the race. Was the truck giving you trouble or were you just trying to be patient?

“It was a case of being patient. Obviously with trying to go 150 laps to the end of the race on one set of tires is a long way to go, so we just kind of wanted to bide our time and take it easy, make sure we didn’t push too hard. We didn’t need to go up there and get any stage points or anything like that so the opportunity for us to just kind of ride was given to us. We knew the 52 (Stewart Friesen) was going to pit, so I kind of let the 99 (Ben Rhodes) go and was riding in fourth and going to inherit third on a restart. All of the battling ended up ensuing there anyways. Awesome day. These guys gave me a great Cessna Beechcraft Tundra. It was awesome to drive. It wasn’t so awesome yesterday. We worked really really hard on trying to make this thing better and improve this truck and our program and all of the other trucks as well too. The other three teammates that were out here today. It’s cool to be able to put KBM in victory lane, Toyota in victory lane, thank TRD for their support and Rowdy Manufacturing, Incredible Bank, Monster Energy, Adidas, DVX Sunglasses, Black Clover, Gander Outdoors. It’s cool to have Gander folks on this year and being a part of this series and of course the fans. All the fans here at Martinsville, it’s pretty cool to come out here. It’s cool to win at Martinsville and cool to get to take home a clock. Rowdy Nation is out there loud and proud.”

Did you get your Toyota Tundra’s balance where you wanted it?

“Yeah, you had to have a little bit of freeness to it for the long run. Once you got 50 laps on tires, it just started getting tight, so you kind of needed it to be well balanced. It looked like a few of those guys were getting too tight, but then they were getting too loose as well. That’s kind of the thing that starts happening where we were just a little bit free where we could roll with that for the majority of the run and keep ourselves out front.”

How important is it to stay consistent over the long run and how is that going to apply to tomorrow’s Cup Series race?

“It’s challenging to pass. The way the rules are with the gear rule and this engine rule and everything else, it’s hard to pass for all these guys and for some of the young guys. They just drive into one another and knock each other out of the way. I guess that’s fun, but more times than not you can do it in better ways and I felt like we did a good job of that today. We had a good piece though and we did the best with what we had and these guys over here did a great job of working for me and giving me some good pit stops and keeping us out front.”

What made the difference on your Tundra today?

“These guys worked really really hard this weekend. We unloaded and I didn’t like where we were at. We made wholesale changes to this thing all weekend long. I just tried to keep improving this Cessna Beechcraft Tundra and make it faster. Certainly want to give thanks to TRD and Rowdy Manufacturing – all these guys. We just kept trying to make it turn the center better. That’s where it’s at at Martinsville. You’ve got to be able to turn the center without getting too lose in and too loose off. There during the race, a couple of times when I was underneath some guys I’d get loose. I saw other guys getting loose in the same kind of aspect. We were able to get by them and get through them and have enough tire there at the end to hold them off.”

Who decides where your grandfather clock will go? Your crew chief Rudy Fugle seemed pretty excited about winning it.

“I do. This is his (Rudy Fugle, crew chief) first win here at Martinsville. I’ve won here with two other crew chiefs I think so it’s pretty cool to get Rudy his first win at Martinsville.”

Does Rudy Fugle get the clock or no?

“Yes, he can have the clock. Now I just want to give a quick a thanks to Incredible Bank, Monster Energy, Adidas, DVX Sunglasses, Black Clover, Gander Outdoors. I appreciate Gander and all those guys coming this year and being a part of this series and of course the fans. It’s awesome to have Rowdy Nation’s support. We keep digging every week and keep trying to work hard and keep trying to get wins.”

Talk about your race today.

“We had a pretty good Tundra. Everything that we did to it yesterday and trying to improve on it and make it better for today was certainly beneficial. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and these guys worked really hard on some good changes, some smart changes and getting all that stuff done, especially overnight, getting us ready to go for the track conditions for today. Overall a good day. A fast Cessna Toyota Tundra and cool to be up front like we were and to put her in the win there at the end and go get another one.”

Have you ever been on a win streak like this or is this the best streak to open a season that you’ve ever had across all three NASCAR national series?

“I’m not exactly sure. I don’t remember what year it was but I remember there being a time when you used to be able to race for the championship in all three divisions and I led the points across all three series early on in the season. I do remember that. Just going out there and doing a good job working with some great people and having the opportunity to drive fast stuff is pretty cool right now and putting ourselves in the right spots and doing the right things when it matters most to win. Seven of 11 (wins) is nice. It could’ve been nine or 10 probably. That’s what the scary part is if it wasn’t for some simple mistakes. It’s been fun. It’s a damn shame I’m only allowed five and seven (races).

Do you have a target career-wins total for the Truck Series?

“Yes and no. I’m only allowed five (races) a year so it’s going to be tough to accumulate too many in the foreseeable future. Just keep doing what we do. If we can win four or five of the five each and every year, then it’ll hopefully add up over the course of the next 10 years or whatever. That’ll put you right around 100.”

You have Texas and Charlotte left this year in the Truck Series. Do you have a good chance to make it five for five?

“Yes, obviously working with Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) – working with any of our crew chiefs, they’re all really good. I worked with (Mike) Hillman (Jr.) last year and won races. I’ve worked with Marcus (Richmond) before that and won races. Jerry Baxter, every one of our guys that’s been at KBM. Rudy since ’13. I’d like to think that Texas is a good place. We saw how fast Todd (Gilliland) was there last year. He was really really good. I think that our guys have a good baseline. We’ll go to Texas and work on our stuff and try to improve it and practice. The same thing as we always do and put a good piece out there for the race. Charlotte is always one of my best tracks, favorite tracks. I enjoy running there with the trucks especially. There’s a good opportunity to be able to go five for five.”

Was it a goal to start this year and win every race?

“No, it wasn’t necessarily a goal. It’s kind of an expectation. We just go out there and do what I said. Just work hard and smart. Today we just kind of let the race kind of play itself out and kind of come to us if you will there when guys were racing real hard and trying to get that second stage and all that sort of stuff. We just kind of bided our time and waited and made moves when we needed to.”

Over the years, what has racing as much as you do done to you physically and how do you combat that every year to stay in the best shape?

“Years past there were times where towards the end of the season when I ran the 30 races in Xfinity and the 12 or 15 races I ran in truck and then all of the Cup schedule – those were some heavy years. You could definitely feel it towards the end of the season kind of wearing on you. Even so, the last couple of years and being limited and only being able to run – well running all the Cup races and then only seven or five, respectively, in Truck and Xfinity – that even towards the end of the year you know sometimes you kind of feel it a little bit. Just trying to continue to stay in the gym and do some things in training and whatnot to help the longevity of my body and my career hopefully. It’s no different than Jimmie Johnson has done the last 10 years and Tom Brady has probably done the last 10 or 12 years and so just hoping that it all works out and I can keep digging.”

Can you tell you get more tire when you run double or triple-race weekends?

“Your body just senses it’s tired. When you’re done with a Cup race, you’re fatigued and then it kind of takes you a little bit longer during the week. Right now you could probably go through Monday and you’re kind of tired and fatigued and then Tuesday you’re fine where later in the year you get all the way to Wednesday before you’re feeling like you’re fine.”

If and when the time comes to slow down, would you like to go back and get a Truck championship so you can have the triple crown?

“Yes, I would. I mean I would welcome it in other facets too. How do I say this? I had thought about years ago when they came out with this five rule and seven rule – like why don’t you let us run as many races as we want to run and then once we miss one, we’re done. So like if I go all the way to Iowa in the trucks and I run 10 races or however many that is and then I can’t go to Iowa, then I’m done. You can race for points. You can race for whatever. If that ever came down like that, then maybe there would be an opportunity years down the road that then you can run multiple series and try to go after a championship that way.”

RUDY FUGLE, crew chief, No. 51 Cessna Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Talk about your view from the pit box?

“The tires weren’t wearing all that much yesterday so it was kind of – some of it was sitting in our seat as crew chiefs and trying to figure out when we’re going to pit and not to get out of strategy and try to make the right decision with Kyle (Busch) driving to put ourselves where we don’t have to pass too many people, but not be at a disadvantage on a tire strategy. It was a little bit more stressful than some of the last couple of wins have been, but it was fun.”

What’s it feel like to finally get a win at Martinsville?

“This place is so historic. We’ve done great as a KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) organization here, but I don’t do an exceptional job at the short tracks. That’s not what I started with so I struggle at them period. I try to get as much practice as I can at it and getting one is pretty cool.”

Results

Pos Str No. Driver Team Laps Status
1 2 51 Kyle Busch(i) Cessna Toyota 250 Running
2 16 99 Ben Rhodes Carolina Nut Ford 250 Running
3 5 24 Brett Moffitt Worx Garden & Power Tools Chevrolet 250 Running
4 10 45 Ross Chastain(i) TruNorth/Paul Jr. Designs Chevrolet 250 Running
5 1 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar International Chevrolet 250 Running
6 15 27 Myatt Snider TaxSlayer Ford 250 Running
7 19 98 Grant Enfinger CURB Records Ford 250 Running
8 6 88 Matt Crafton Ideal Door/Menards Ford 250 Running
9 8 13 Johnny Sauter Tenda Heal Ford 250 Running
10 13 22 Bubba Wallace(i) GO TEXAN \ AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet 250 Running
11 18 18 Harrison Burton # Safelite AutoGlass Toyota 250 Running
12 21 54 David Gilliland Fred's Toyota 250 Running
13 12 8 Austin Dillon(i) Phone Skope Chevrolet 250 Running
14 7 46 Raphael Lessard Spectra Premium Toyota 250 Running
15 3 4 Todd Gilliland Mobil 1 Toyota 250 Running
16 9 16 Austin Hill United Rentals Toyota 250 Running
17 4 2 Sheldon Creed # A.M.Ortega/RTL Chevrolet 250 Running
18 11 19 Derek Kraus ENEOS/NAPA FILTERS Toyota 250 Running
19 14 17 Tyler Ankrum # May's Hawaii Toyota 250 Running
20 24 11 Spencer Davis All Pro Ford 249 Running
21 23 56 Timmy Hill(i) Southern Freight Services Chevrolet 249 Running
22 26 92 Austin Theriault BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors Ford 248 Running
23 20 02 Tyler Dippel # Danda Concrete Contractors/Lobas Productions 248 Running
24 27 44 Reid Wilson TruNorth/Paul Jr. Designs Chevrolet 247 Running
25 30 7 Korbin Forrister Sparrow Ranch Toyota 246 Running
26 29 3 Jordan Anderson Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet 246 Running
27 25 20 Spencer Boyd EZ Red Chevrolet 244 Running
28 32 1 Travis Kvapil Beaver Motorsports Chevrolet 240 Running
29 28 30 Brennan Poole Bad Boy Mowers Toyota 239 Running
30 31 33 Daniel Sasnett Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet 238 Running
31 22 04 Cory Roper 2019 Preferred Industrial Contractors Inc. Ford 225 Rear End
32 17 12 Gus Dean # OverkillRV.com Chevrolet 61 Oil Line

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