It almost appeared that Kyle Busch having to start last – and going a lap down – in Saturday night’s Baptist Health 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was akin to the NASCAR Gander & RV Outdoors Truck Series all-time winningest driver giving everyone a head-start.
But even that challenge wasn’t enough to keep Busch from victory. He added to his record series win total – extending that mark of excellence to 58 trophies, taking the checkered flag 2.847-seconds ahead of Tyler Ankrum, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and Johnny Sauter in a dramatic final restart with six laps remaining.
Todd Gilliland, Austin Hill, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton and Ty Majeski completed the top 10.
As the race played out, with a caution coming out with 12 laps to go, some drivers were able to pit for brand new tires and others – such as Busch – put on a barely-worn set making for a suspenseful final restart that did not disappoint. Busch was able to hold off the field – prevailing in a three-wide fight for the lead – and earn his third career win at the Homestead 1.5-miler.
“You’re always concerned about tires being better and having the opportunity to out-show you, but I felt like six laps was just the right amount, any more than that and it probably would have been a different outcome,” said Busch, who drove the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
“I knew the Cessna Beechcraft Toyota Tundra here was going to be awesome. Thanks to TRD and Rowdy Energy, everybody that helps us here and makes us so fast and want to say thanks to Big Machine Hand Sanitizer as well, they were on the quarter panel the last two weeks and we didn’t win and now they’re not here and we won.”
Busch was originally penalized for failing inspection – forced to start last in the 38-truck field then take a “drive through” penalty through the pits on the first lap. While he was starting to make his way up through the field, the defending Homestead winner and Saturday night’s polesitter Austin Hill took control of the race.
Hill, Florida-native Ross Chastain and Grant Enfinger fought for the early-race advantage and Chastain earned the opening stage victory. Busch was ninth on the ensuing restart and moved to second place in only one lap, ultimately taking the lead for the first time on Lap 39 of the 134-lap race.
Chastain won the opening stage and Busch rallied from his early race challenge to win the second stage.
Busch held the point easily through caution periods and challenges – leading Hill by 3.5-seconds with 40 laps remaining. When a final caution came out for Jordan Anderson’s truck with 12 to go – most of the leaders pit for tires and those such as Ankrum and Elliott, who had brand new sets made up a lot of ground and earned top-five finishes.
Busch collects his 211th NASCAR national series victory – most all-time. It was also Kyle Busch Motorsports sixth series win at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Toyota’s 11th series win at the 1.5-mile track.
Austin Hill extends his points lead to 44 points over second place Christian Eckes and 48 points up on two-time winner Grant Enfinger in third.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!