Kyle Busch is used to scoring dominating victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Rarely, though, does he come out of nowhere to make a late charge to score an upset win.
But that’s exactly what Busch did Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he put on a phenomenal late-race charge to win the UNOH 200, a rare Wednesday night race for the Truck Series.
Busch overcame a poor qualifying effort and a pit-road speeding penalty to put his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota into Victory Lane ahead of Timothy Peters, Ryan Blaney, Johnny Sauter and Chase Elliott. It was Busch’s third Truck Series win of the year in just seven starts and the 33rd of his career in 111 starts.
After a poor start, Busch took his only lead of the race with seven laps to go. But then Peters ran Busch down and caught him in the last two laps, and at the start-finish line on the final lap, the two made contact, with Busch winning by just 0.050 seconds and Peters losing control of his Red Horse racing Toyota, spinning out and hitting the inside wall.
“Great racing here at Bristol,” said Busch. “It’s cool to have two lanes that you can do that in. We didn’t have to touch. He (Peters) just got a little high, but it was the last lap. Coming to the checkered, I knew I had it, I just had the momentum. Timothy tried to just throw the Hail Mary , I guess, and wrecked a pretty good race truck.”
“Hey, I was going for it, you know,” said Peters. “I got a really good bite on throttle off of (Turn) 4 coming to the checkered flag and got a little loose. And when I went up and hit him, it knocked me back to the left. I hate that I got a tore up truck. … It was exciting, wasn’t it?”
It was a fantastic finish to an entertaining night of racing. Busch and Peters put on a hard fight at the end, after a late-race caution worked against Peters, who led 125 of 200 laps but ended up second when he ran out of gas on a restart.
Earlier in the day, Elliott became the youngest pole-winner in Truck Series history. When the race began, Elliott was was flanked on Row 1 by fellow young gun Blaney.
Peters, who led every lap in winning here last year, qualified fourth and quickly moved to the second spot on the opening lap.
From the onset, Peters immediately began pressuring Elliott, but couldn’t get past in the opening laps.
Busch, who began the night 10th, raced all the way to third place by Lap 43, the No. 51 Toyota charging hard and moving up fast.
By Lap 60, it was a three-way battle for the lead, with Peters going out front for the first time on Lap 64, pulling Busch with him into second as Elliott got bogged down in heavy lapped traffic.
On Lap 69, 16-year-old Brandon Jones spun out to send the yellow flying and set up a round of pit stops. Peters held the lead on pit road, with Elliott falling to seventh while his team put in a spring rubber. Busch was caught speeding on pit road, and had to go to the tail end of the longest line, restarting 22nd.
Blaney closed on Peters for the lead, but on Lap 137, when Blaney tried go high to pass, Peters drifted up the hill. That forced Blaney into the marbles and he bounced off the wall, falling to third with boss Brad Keselowski moving to second.
It looked like Peters would have clear sailing from then on, but Jeff Agnew spun on the frontstretch on Lap 177 to bring out a caution and set up a short sprint to the finish.
Under caution, leader Peters stayed out but Keselowski and Blaney pitted from right behind him.
On the restart on Lap 188, points leader Matt Crafton ran out of gas, with Keselowski right behind him getting turned after he checked up. Leader Peters ran out, too, and had to pit when the caution came out again.
Blaney led the restart, but with 6 laps to go, drifted up the hill, allowing Busch to take the lead, with Peters second, which is how they finished.
It was a fantastic finish to the evening and the start of what should be three great nights of racing at the iconic Tennessee short track.