Busch Gets the Michigan Truck Monkey Off His Back
It's no secret that Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn isn't one of Kyle Busch's favorite tracks. Entering Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200, the Las Vegas native was winless in eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events at the 2-mile oval, despite knocking on the door of victory several and recording four runner-up finishes. Busch wouldn't be denied a trip to victory lane this time around, rallying from an early speeding penalty to collect his 44th career victory in NASCAR's third division and second in as many Truck Series starts behind the wheel of the Dollar General Tundra this season.
"First win for me, first win for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) here and I can't thank Dollar General enough, M&M's and everybody on that program," Busch said. "Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and these guys at KBM, they do an awesome job. It's really fun to race my trucks, I really enjoy it. This Camping World Truck Series is pretty fun - I love racing with those guys up there, (Erik) Jones and (Ryan) Blaney and (Austin) Dillon, it was pretty hectic on how all that was going to shape up and play out. This Joe Gibbs Racing engine was strong there with those last restarts and our KBM chassis was awesome all day. Can't say enough about this Toyota Tundra and TRD (Toyota Racing Development). Just cool to finally get that monkey off my back here in the Truck Series and notch another race track where I've won in all three divisions here at Michigan."
Busch's Dollar General Tundra rolled off from the 10th spot, but by the time the field reached the start-finish line the first time had maneuvered its way up to the sixth position. KBM's owner-driver continued to march forward and on lap 10 he took the lead for the first time and he remained out front when a one-truck spin slowed the field for the second time on lap 25. Crew Chief Jerry Baxter summoned his driver to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment.
A tachometer issue plagued Busch and he was flagged for speeding in multiple zones entering pit road. Instead of retaining the lead, he was forced to restart at the back of the field in the 30th position. He gained five positions on the first lap and within three laps had moved up to the 11th spot. His march back to the front got stalled out as he reported that his No. 51 Toyota was "really loose on entry and tight center and off."
As a long green-flag run continued, the handling of the Dollar General Tundra improved slightly and Busch made his way back into the top five before a round of green-flag stops began. The veteran's execution onto and off of pit road, combined with a speedy four-tire and fuel stop allowed him to be at the front of the field, three seconds ahead of second position, when stops cycled through on lap 69.
Several cautions bunched the field over the final 20 laps and Busch twice surrendered the lead, once to Austin Dillon and another to Ryan Blaney. Blaney was leading with five laps remaining and it appeared that Busch could once again be the bridesmaid in the Truck Series at Michigan. Heading off Turn 2, Rowdy made a strong move to the inside of Blaney and completed the pass as they raced down the backstretch. KBM's owner-driver was able to hold off both Blaney and teammate Erik Jones over the final three laps to earn his team's first win in the Irish Hills.
The win was the 44th of Busch's Truck Series career and his 149th across NASCAR's top-three divisions. He has now been victorious in 10 of his last 13 starts across NASCAR's third division since the 2013 series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Blaney finished 0.157 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up position. Busch's KBM teammate Erik Jones finished third, while Johnny Sauter and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers. Cody Coughlin, making his KBM debut in the No. 54 Tundra, was on the cusp of a top-10 finish before getting caught up in a late race accident and ended the day in the 20th position.
With KBM's win at Michigan, the team has now won at all but two active Truck Series tracks (Atlanta Motor Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park). The win also gave Busch a victory in all three of NASCAR's top divisions at 11 different tracks.
The 12th race of the 2015 season featured six cautions for a total of 26 laps. There were 15 lead changes among six drivers, including Busch who led five times for a race-high 44 laps.
With 13 of 23 races completed, the No. 51 Tundra team sits fourth in the owner's championship standings - 21 tallies behind points the series leading No. 19 team.
Daniel Suarez will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 ARRIS Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Aug. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Busch will move over and race the No. 54 JEGS Tundra in Wednesday night's 200-lap event. Live coverage of the UNOH 200 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET
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