Owner-driver Kyle Busch made his first road course start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Saturday in the XPEL 225at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. After qualifying fifth in Friday’s two-group qualifying session, the 36-year-old driver quickly made his way to the front, taking his first lead of the day on Lap 2, before leading a race high 31-laps.
‘Rowdy’ found himself in control of the race before two late-race cautions would force the field to group back together. On the second overtime restart, the No. 7 of Alex Bowman and the No. 52 of Stewart Friesen both overdrove the entry to Turn 11 slamming into Busch and opening a hole for Zane Smith to take the late lead. After being forced off of the track, the Safelite driver would try to battle his way back up to the front in the final two laps of the race but would ultimately bring home a third-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Making his second Truck Series start of the season, Busch qualified fifth for Saturday’s scheduled 42-lap event at Circuit of the Americas.
- It didn’t take long for ‘Rowdy’ to make his way to the front of the field as he took his first lead of the day on lap two, passing fellow Cup Series driver, Alex Bowman.
- As Busch continued to lead, he communicated to the No. 51 team that his Safelite Tundra TRD Pro was “a little loose everywhere but not bad”.
- Crew chief Mardy Lindley called for the No. 51 team to make a four tire stop on Lap 9 before the first stage break.
- Despite pitting early, Busch was still able to earn two stage points after taking the green-and-white checkered flag in ninth.
Stage Two Recap:
- As the first eight trucks came down pit road at the stage break, Busch restarted the middle stanza from the lead.
- Busch continued to lead the first seven laps of the second stage and would hold a two second lead over KBM teammate John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 19.
- As the third caution of the day came out on Lap 22, the No. 51 team would once again elect to pit early before the end of the stage, sending the Safelite Tundra back out to restart in the 16th-position.
- In the final four laps of the second stage, ‘Rowdy’ gained 12-positions and would be scored fourth at the end of the stage, earning an additional seven stage points.
Final Stage Recap:
- Busch once again found himself on the front row to start the final stage as the lead trucks came down pit road during the stage break.
- With just seven laps remaining, Busch was in a battle for the lead with the No. 52 of Stewart Friesen who would force the No. 51 Safelite Tundra off the track briefly but was able to hold onto the lead.
- Busch was in control of the race before the seventh caution of the day came out on Lap 41, forcing the first overtime restart of the day.
- As the field made the climb into Turn 1 on the first overtime restart, Busch was able to clear the No. 7 of Bowman for the lead before the caution flag came out, forcing another green-white-checkered start.
- Busch once again got a good jump on the restart and looked as if he was going to be able to clear the field in Turn 1 again before the No. 7 went wide and forced the No. 52 up into Busch, opening the door for Zane Smith to take the lead.
- After being forced off of the track, the Safelite driver would try to battle his way back up to the front in the final two laps of the race, but would ultimately bring home a third place finish.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Safelite Tundra TRD Pro for KBM
What did you see at the end that happened that forced you to give up the lead at that point?
“We had a great race all day. I really appreciate everyone at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and their hard work and everyone there who does a good job building such fast trucks. I felt like we deserved that one, but it doesn’t matter if you deserve it or not. It’s just a matter if you get it. You have to be the first one to the checkered flag to win these things and we just weren’t.”
XPEL 225 Recap:
- Zane Smith picked up his second win of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. John Hunter Nemechek, Kyle Busch, Ben Rhodes, and Chandler Smith rounded out the top-five finishers.
- There were 8 cautions for 12 laps. There were 10 lead changes among six drivers, including Busch who led three times for a race high 31-laps.
How Busch’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished second
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished fifth.
Camping World Trucks Owner’s Championship Standings:
The No. 51 team gained two spots and moved up to fourth in the Owner’s Championship standings. After four events they are just 27 points behind the No. 18 KBM team.
Kyle Busch will be back behind the wheel for his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of the season at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April 7. Live coverage of the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 8 p.m. ET.