He’s Back: Busch Back to XFINITY Victory Lane at Michiganby Kyle Pokrefky June 14, 2015 0 comments
BROOKLYN, Mich. — In his first race back in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Kyle Busch clawed his way into victory lane at Michigan International Speedway to win the Great Clips 250.
Being sidelined for several months after suffering multiple leg injuries in the series’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway, there was no rust to be seen on the driver of the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota as he led 27 laps and fought several spectacular battles against Sprint Cup and XFINITY regulars alike to claim his 71st career series win.
“It was a really fun day I thought, from my seat anyways,” Busch said. “I thought the race was a really good race – a competitive one at that. Kind of trading back and forth a little bit with the No. 22, the No. 88, the No. 33 was up there too. Really fun and enjoyable from my seat. ”
When speaking about if he had set any expectations for himself to get back to victory lane, the all-time leader in XFINITY wins says that he had not established any sort of timetable to roll back in victory lane.
“I never really put much thought [during] any time of the recovery of when I needed to be back in victory lane,” Busch continued. “I knew that I’m good enough, Joe Gibbs Racing is good enough, Chris Gayle is, Adam Stevens is. Whether it was the Cup side or XFINITY side, I certainly knew that we’d still win some races this year.”
Finishing second was Chase Elliott, who took advantage of late-race contact between Kevin Harvick and polesitter Joey Logano to seize the lead on Lap 117.
The defending series champion appeared to be on the path to his first victory of the season and was in possession of the lead through Lap 121, but Busch’s experience prevailed as the No. 54 car took advantage of a draft off of Elliott’s No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet to seize the lead with three to go.
“I’ll be honest, second does not feel good, to me at least,” Elliott said. “I thought we had a car good enough to compete today and I didn’t make it across the line in time for qualifying. We had speed that was fast enough to have a good effort there instead of starting where we did.
“I thought having to battle our way up there, we had a couple of instances there where you get in the wrong lane and fall back and play the cat and mouse game. We had finally got ourselves into position there, we had two even-numbered restarts where we were sixth and fourth that put us in position to have an opportunity on that last restart.
Obviously, the No. 22 would have been really hard to beat and Kevin kind of got into him on accident and moved him up the race track. That opened up our opportunity at the win. Even though we had a shot, it wasn’t as gratifying as it would have been to pass those guys for real and get out front the correct way.”
In third-place was Kyle Larson, who was followed across the finish line by current points leader Chris Buescher, Elliott Sadler, Harvick, Logano, Aric Almirola, Brian Scott and Denny Hamlin.
With his fourth-place finish, Buescher will take a 25-point lead over 13th-place finisher Ty Dillon into next week’s Owens Corning Atticat 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Eight caution flags and one red flag flew during Saturday’s race with one being for debris and one for a competition caution on Lap 27.
Jeffrey Earnhardt, making his return to Viva Motorsports, brought out the first caution of the day for a solo spin on Lap 7 and was involved in the seventh caution of the day in an incident that put damage on the cars of Darrell Wallace Jr. and David Starr.
Landon Cassill brought out the third caution of the day when his No. 01 Chevrolet stalled on the backstretch while a solo spin by Daniel Suárez brought out the fifth caution of the day.
The final caution of the day that brought out the red flag for just under six minutes was for an accident on the frontstretch that involved the cars of Jeremy Clements, Cale Conley, Paul Menard and Ryan Reed.
Reed and Conley took a venture through the grass that littered the frontstretch with chunks of the infield, prompting NASCAR to throw the red flag.
Up next for the XFINITY Series will be next Saturday’s standalone event at Chicagoland.
Top-10 Finishers of the Great Clips 250
- 54 – Kyle Busch(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 9 – Chase Elliott – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
- 42 – Kyle Larson(i) – Chevrolet – HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi
- 60 – Chris Buescher – Ford – Roush Fenway Racing
- 1 – Elliott Sadler – Ford – Roush Fenway Racing
- 88 – Kevin Harvick(i) – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
- 22 – Joey Logano(i) – Ford – Team Penske
- 98 – Aric Almirola(i) – Ford – Biagi-DenBeste Racing
- 2 – Brian Scott – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
- 20 – Denny Hamlin(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
Top-10 in the Drivers Standings after Round 13 of 33
- 60 – Chris Buescher – Roush Fenway Racing – 489 | Leader
- 3 – Ty Dillon – Richard Childress Racing – 464 | -25
- 9 – Chase Elliott – JR Motorsports – 454 | -35
- 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 434 | -55
- 6 – Darrell Wallace Jr.# – Roush Fenway Racing – 428 | -61
- 1 – Elliott Sadler – Roush Fenway Racing – 414 | -75
- 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 394 | -95
- 16 – Ryan Reed – Roush Fenway Racing – 378 | -111
- 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 378 | -111
- 18 – Daniel Suárez# – Joe Gibbs Racing – 369 | -120
# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR XFINITY Series points.
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky