Kyle Busch added a 69th win to his NASCAR Nationwide Series career tally on Saturday with a victory in the Kansas 300 at Kansas Speedway after getting by Kevin Harvick for the top spot with about 20 laps to go in the 200-lap race. Harvick finished second.
“We raced a guy that’s probably going to win tomorrow,” Busch said of Harvick, looking ahead to Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Harvick’s No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was all alone on the lead lap when the yellow flag waved on lap 143, soon after everyone but Harvick cycled through green-flag pit stops. After Harvick pitted under caution and everyone else took a wave-around, Harvick and Ryan Blaney restarted up front with Busch in third.
Busch got by Blaney to take the second spot on the restart, just before another caution, the ninth and final one of the race, came out. Harvick was able to hold off Busch for awhile when the race restarted, but with about 20 to go, Busch got up front and drove away, leaving Harvick to battle Blaney for runner-up honors.
“I was trying to get him as quick as I could, obviously, but aero here at this place — you’re running almost wide open around here, so I was just trying to figure out what I could do with my throttle and time my run to him and all that stuff,” Busch said. “It finally worked out pretty good there down the frontstretch.”
Blaney was a handful for Harvick for a few laps, but Harvick was eventually able to pull away from Blaney to settle into the second spot. Blaney finished third.
“Kyle was just a little bit faster there as we got toward the end,” Harvick said. “Did all we could do and just came up a little bit short, there.”
Seven of the nine cautions came in the first 90 laps of the race. Ty Dillon started on the pole, with Harvick alongside in second. Chris Buescher was also among the drivers who ran near the front early on the race, and with the high quantity of cautions early in the race, varying pit strategies put several other drivers at or near the front for brief periods of time early in the race. John Wes Townley and Brendan Gaughan were among the drivers who used pit strategy to get up front and lead laps early.
After being among the front-runners early, Chris Buescher fell victim to an incident that started with a Kyle Larson spin on lap 90 after getting mired back in the field by a four-tire stop during an earlier caution. Larson also previously ran near the front.
“I was really surprised I got loose there,” Larson said. “I had been extremely tight all day yesterday and all the race.”
Paul Menard and Dillon finished fourth and fifth. Sixth through 10th were Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne, Brian Scott and Chase Elliott.
With his top-10 finish, Elliott’s championship points lead over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith grew to 38 points. Smith finished 22nd after a day that saw him start in the back after spinning and hitting the wall in qualifying. He made his way toward the front but wound up on pit road with his hood up later in the race.