After a late pit stop called by crew chief Eric Phillips enabled Busch on fresh tires in his No. 18 Toyota to pull off a win Saturday afternoon in Kentucky was not only astute, it was a timely decision that brought home the victory with Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones in hot pursuit.
This was Busch’s second win this season, his fourth in Kentucky and 88th of his NASCAR career. Busch who was the pole winner, had the lead in Lap 129, when Joey Gase’s No. 52 engine blew up in Turn 3 leaking fluid on the track to have the officials call for the seventh yellow caution flag of the race.
This is when Phillips implemented his strategy, thinking several moves ahead he called for the pit stop to replace all four tires. Busch lost six positions to several teams who selected to change two tires and opted for another change down the line. Busch who arguably had the fastest car on the track made up the six positions quickly when he passed Joey Logano on Lap 148 for the third position enabling Busch to stay on the track while other teams had to change for fresh tires or run on used ones.
The four tire call enabled Busch to take the lead when Ray Black Jr.’s wreck in Turn 2 brought out the eight and final yellow caution flag of the day on Lap 167. Busch remained in the lead during the remaining laps in the race. He also received assistance when Ryan Blaney in his extremely quick No. 12 Ford was penalized for a runaway tire in his final pit stop.
Blaney restarted at the back of the field and charged like the “Roadrunner” finishing in second place passing third place finisher Erik Jones in the final lap for the runner-up spot. However, Blaney just ran out of time and if he had three or four more laps he may have been able to overtake Busch. He finished just 1.097 seconds behind Busch pushing his race car to maximum speed capacity.
Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick, who remained on the track with Busch for the final restart would finish in fourth place in the No. 41 Ford, followed by Ty Dillon in the No. 3 Chevrolet, Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick would round off the top 10.
Next week the XFINITY race moves to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Overton’s 200 starting on Saturday July 15th at 4:00 pm eastern. All the racing action can be viewed on NBCSN and heard on PRN radio.