Kyle Busch returns to form with dominating NASCAR XFINITY win at Richmond

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on September 9, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia.

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on September 9, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia.

RICHMOND, Va. – With one ferociously fast pit stop, Kyle Busch erased a lackluster qualifying effort and cruised to victory in Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

A master at getting on and off pit road in minimal time, Busch entered the pits in fourth place under the first caution of the race after a tap from J.J. Yeley sent Justin Marks spinning into the frontstretch grass on Lap 48.

Busch was first off pit road—decisively—and at that point it was game over, thanks for playing, and Busch was well on the way to his sixth NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Richmond, his eighth in 14 starts this season and the 84th of his career, extending his own gargantuan series record.

“I never would have guessed that,” Busch exulted on the team radio before he started his celebratory burnout. “Great pit stop! Awesome!”

Before the second caution flew on Lap 164 of 250, Busch had a lead of 7.312 seconds and had lapped up to eighth place in the running order before a cycle of green-flag stops began.

Busch finished 6.453 seconds ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and runner-up Erik Jones, who ran the same setup Busch had in his No. 18 Toyota. The victory marked a decisive return to form for the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, who had crashed out of his two previous XFINITY races.

“I just doubted our car today,” said Busch, who led 197 laps and scored a perfect driver rating of 150.0. “It just wasn’t right. We just kind of missed it all through practice. It wasn’t good there, and then we qualified, and it was just a handful in qualifying. We didn’t qualify very well—seventh. That’s not very well for my expectations.

“We worked on it there at the start of the race. We were really out of control and loose, and I got to fourth, I thought that was kind where we were going to be. But my guys had an awesome pit stop, got me out front, and (crew chief) Chris Gayle made some really smart adjustments to it that first time on pit road.

“After that, it was lights out. It was on a rail from there.”

Jones could only admire the skill of his more experienced teammate—when he was close enough to see Busch ahead of him, that is.

“Not much to say,” said Jones, whose two laps led during a cycle of green-flag pit stops constituted the only interruption to Busch’s charge to the finish. “He had the same setup as us. He’s just that good. It’s unfortunate. We’ve run second to him a number of times this year.

“I wish all those were wins, but we’ve been getting stronger every time.”

Brad Keselowski ran third, followed by XFINITY regulars Elliott Sadler, the series leader, and Justin Allgaier. Ty Dillon, polesitter Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman and Brennan Poole completed the top 10.

Ryan Reed, the last driver to finish on the lead lap, clinched a spot in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase with an 11th-place run, leaving two berths still open heading to the Sept. 17 cutoff race at Chicagoland Speedway.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Virginia529 College Savings 250

Richmond International Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Friday, September 09, 2016

1. (7) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 250.

2. (4) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 250.

3. (6) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 250.

4. (8) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 250.

5. (3) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 250.

6. (18) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 250.

7. (1) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 250.

8. (10) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 250.

9. (2) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 250.

10. (31) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 250.

11. (17) Ryan Reed, Ford, 250.

12. (14) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ford, 249.

13. (11) Gray Gaulding, Ford, 248.

14. (19) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 248.

15. (5) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 248.

16. (9) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 247.

17. (12) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 247.

18. (20) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 247.

19. (13) Jeb Burton, Ford, 247.

20. (23) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 246.

21. (27) David Starr, Chevrolet, 246.

22. (25) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 246.

23. (33) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 245.

24. (15) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 245.

25. (29) Ray Black, Jr. #, Chevrolet, 245.

26. (16) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 244.

27. (22) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 244.

28. (21) Hermie Sadler III, Toyota, 244.

29. (26) Brandon Brown(i), Chevrolet, 243.

30. (28) Clint King, Ford, 243.

31. (32) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 243.

32. (39) BJ McLeod #, Ford, 239.

33. (34) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, 238.

34. (35) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 236.

35. (36) Brandon Hightower, Dodge, 235.

36. (38) Alli Owens, Chevrolet, Clutch, 156.

37. (40) Austin Theriault(i), Chevrolet, Overheating, 84.

38. (37) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Oil Leak, 51.

39. (30) Timmy Hill(i), Dodge, Electrical, 21.

40. (24) Matt DiBenedetto(i), Toyota, Vibration, 4.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  103.687 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 48 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory:  6.453 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  2 for 14 laps.

Lead Changes:  3 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Dillon(i) 1-51; K. Busch(i) 52-157; E. Jones # 158-159; K. Busch(i) 160-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Busch(i) 2 times for 197 laps; A. Dillon(i) 1 time for 51 laps; E. Jones # 1 time for 2 laps.

Top 10 in Points: E. Sadler – 852; D. Suarez – 794; J. Allgaier – 786; T. Dillon – 777; B. Gaughan – 755; E. Jones # – 753; B. Poole # – 736; B. Jones # – 702; D. Wallace, Jr. – 659; R. Reed – 626.

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