Over the past three seasons, the No. 18 Tundra of Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has celebrated several victories with Dollar General as its primary sponsor. It was a different number but the same result for the combination in Friday's EnjoyIllinois.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. With the nation's largest small-box discount retailer adorning Busch's No. 51 Toyota for a one-race deal, the Las Vegas native outdueled Brad Keselwoski to pick up his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2013.
"I want to thank the Lord for this one," said Busch, who now has three Truck Series victories in four starts in the Windy City. "Also, thank everyone from Dollar General. This Toyota Tundra was awesome today. Thanks to TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Toyota, Flexco, Monster Energy Drink and Camping World, of course the fans for being out here tonight -- we appreciate their support and it was just an awesome truck tonight. We tried a couple things in practice that worked for us and really liked the way the thing felt. Hopefully we can take those to a couple more places this year."
After finishing Friday morning's practice session third quick, Busch and crew chief Rudy Fugle were confident enough that they had dialed in their Tundra that they elected not to participate in the final practice session. In the afternoon qualifying session, the 28-year-old driver earned the seventh starting position turning a lap of 30.986 seconds at 174.272.
When the green flag dropped on a balmy evening, Busch slowly maneuvered his Toyota towards the front of the field. By the time the first caution flew for a one-truck spin on lap 13, the Dollar General Tundra was scored in the fourth position as the driver communicated that his truck was "a little loose." Fugle summoned his driver to pit road for a full load of fuel and a track bar adjustment to provide more stability.
The No. 51 Toyota restarted from the seventh spot when the field went back green on lap 18. By lap 35 he had advanced back into the top five and when the second caution of the night occurred on lap 48, he was running in the third position. KBM's owner-driver radioed that his black and yellow machine was "really good that run."
Varying pit strategies took place under caution, but Fugle elected to keep Busch on the track. He took the lap-52 restart from the second position and one lap later took the lead for the first time of the night. As he battled side-by-side with Keselowski, he lost the lead one lap later, but returned to the point on lap 55. After pacing the field for the next five laps, debris had attached itself to the grill of the Dollar General Tundra and caused the temperatures to sky-rocket.
Trying to get the debris off the grill, Busch fell back to the runner-up spot as he tried to position the nose of his truck behind race leader Ryan Blaney to try and use the aerodynamic forces between the two trucks to displace the rubbage. The maneuver was successful and after temperatures subsided on his Toyota, "Rowdy" put his Tundra back out front on lap 66.
Oil on the track slowed the field for the third time on lap 69. Fugle once again elected to keep his driver on track. While under caution, NASCAR alerted the No. 51 team of an issue with the scoring transponder and the Dollar General Tundra was summoned to pit road to have it replaced. Due to the technical malfunction, Busch was allowed to keep his position at the front of the field for the restart on lap 81.
Two laps into the next run, Keselowski worked his way to the front and remained there until Timothy Peters slammed the frontstretch wall and brought out the fifth and final caution on lap 100. Busch reported that his Toyota was "a little tight center," before bringing it to the attention of his over-the-wall crew. A speedy four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment put KBM's owner-driver back out front for the ensuing restart.
Keselwoski worked his way past Busch on the lap-107 restart and despite two near passes from Busch remained on point until lap 122. The Dollar General Tundra retook the lead for one circuit before falling back in behind the No. 19 machine. Rowdy finally was able to make it back to the front on lap 127 and as the race approached the final 10 laps opened up a 1.2-second lead.
After cooling his tires, Keselwoski was able to pull to the back bumper of the Dollar General Tundra multiple times over the closing laps, but each time Busch was able to change lanes and break his momentum. "Rowdy" crossed the stripe out front, picking up the 22nd Truck Series win for KBM since the team originated in 2010, six which have come with the nation's largest small-box discount retailer as the primary sponsor.
Busch picked up his 34th career Truck Series victory, his third in NASCAR's third division at Chicagoland and his 122nd career National Series win - 17 which have come in 2013. Keselowski crossed the stripe 0.338 seconds behind him in the runner-up spot. Blaney finished third, Matt Crafton fourth and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers.
KBM driver Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 11th in the ToyotaCare Tundra. Joey Coulter ran out of fuel early in the race and finished the race two laps down in the 23rd position.
There were five caution periods for 27 laps. Four different drivers led, exchanging the lead 12 times. Ten drivers failed to finish race number 16 on the 2013 Truck Series schedule.
The No. 51 team remained second in the owner's championship standings after 16 races. The team now sits 18 points behind the series-leading No. 88 team.
Chad Hackenbracht will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tastee Apple/Ingersoll Rand Tundra when the series resumes action on Sep. 28 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway for the Smith's 350. Live Television coverage on Fox Sports 1 beings at 8:30 p.m. ET with the NCWTS Setup Show.