Kyle Busch wins Food City 300 XFINITY Series race at Bristol
Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch had a dominant car during much of Friday night's Food City 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he did not earn his 73rd career series victory until Chris Buescher ran out of gas on the final restart.
It was the 150th career win for Busch across NASCAR's top three national touring series.
While Busch and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin appeared to have the fastest cars on the night, Roush Fenway Racing's Buescher stayed on the racetrack under the fourth caution of the night on Lap 192 of the 300-lap event to take the lead for the first time.
Despite having much older tires, Buescher was able to work through the heavy lapped traffic and hold off multiple charges by Busch and Hamlin.
Coming to five laps to go, Buescher was continuing to hold onto the top spot when a caution for Brad Teague slowed the race and set up another late-race restart.
On the final restart of the night, Buescher was able to initially get the jump on Busch and the rest of the field -- but as he got back on the gas at the exit of Turn 2, his car stumbled to pick up the fuel as the field raced past.
Taking advantage of Buescher's issue, Busch drove away to score his fifth XFINITY Series victory in just 13 starts this season.
"It was a hard-fought battle," said Busch, standing in Victory Lane. "Our car wasn't the best there at the beginning of the race. Chris Gale (crew chief) and these guys made some adjustments and got it better for me. Then, when we pitted with 100 to go, I thought, 'Man, we have to go 100 laps on tires here? No way.' I just saved as much as I could.
"I let the 60 (Buescher) go. He ran out there about a straightaway on us, and I just tried to save and do what I could to keep my tires under me," he said. "I knew we were going to get some cautions at the end to bunch us back up, and we did. I wasn't sure if they were going to make it on fuel, and obviously they cut it close -- a little too close."
Despite scoring the win, Busch said the team struggled mightily on restarts and had work to do moving forward.
"Horrible," Busch said of his restarts. "We've got to work on our gearing really, really bad. First (gear) was way too tall and second (gear) was way too low. I was trying to find something to make work, and I couldn't make anything work. I'd go to the gas and the engine would stumble and stall out, and then I'd get hit from behind and the tires would spin. All in all it was just a really, really bad night for us on restarts. I was horrible."
While Busch was able to drive away to his eighth career XFINITY Series win at Bristol, Buescher fought to hang on to the 11th spot.
"Ran out of fuel," a dejected Buescher said as Busch performed celebratory burnouts. "Just lost it on the pick-up. That's unfortunate. I'm mad. It sucks. We were so good. We knew we were good all day. It was just a matter of track position. We got it there on pit strategy, and we showed we could outrun anybody here. We drove away from them every time. Just lost a little bit of fuel there at the end. I knew we were going to be close.
"I wouldn't change it if we could. We're not here to just lie over and just finish eighth every week. We're here to try and win races. I think it was the right call. … It just didn't work out. I'm mad. I'm pissed off."
Coming off Turn 4, Kyle Larson was able to charge on the outside of Hamlin edge him at the finish line to earn a runner-up finish. Hamlin took third, followed by Richard Childress Racing's Ty Dillon and Dash 4 Cash winner Daniel Suarez.
Brian Scott, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Regan Smith and Regan Smith rounded out the top 10.
The XFINITY Series returns to a road course next weekend at Road America as the points battle heats up. With Buescher's slip up at the end of the race, Ty Dillon was able to close the gap to just 19 points, while Chase Elliott sits third, 23 points out of the lead.