Kyle Busch rules all at Kansas Speedway.
Busch, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, dominated the Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 from the pole on Saturday, winning the event for the third straight year.
Add that to Busch’s victory in May’s Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway and a 2014 win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and he has six overall wins at the 16-year-old track, more than any other driver.
And to think Busch, who qualified second for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, once hated this place while going winless in his first 16 Sprint Cup races at the track.
“It’s good to be able to win here in anything,” Busch said, “but it’s more important on Sundays, obviously. Just being able to get better here, I think over the years it’s been because this track is aging, and this track is getting some character to it.
“It’s starting to get a little bit bumpy in some areas, it’s starting to widen out for sure in some areas. We saw some cars run from the bottom all the way to a half a width of the wall. That’s a pretty good amount of track we’re using up, and I suspect (on Sunday) we’ll be using all of it.”
Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez, two of the eight drivers still in contention in the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase, ran second and third, respectively, putting them in a tie for the points lead after the first race in the Round of Eight.
A pair of Sprint Cup regulars, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson, finished fourth and fifth while banging fenders and exchanging words after the race, a situation that could carry over to Sunday.
Busch, who led 150 of the 200 laps in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has now won a record 85 times in the Xfinity Series (formerly known as the Busch and Nationwide series), including nine races this year.
He appeared to be on his way to an easy victory before a series of cautions shuffled him back a few spots and forced him to work his way back into the lead.
With 35 laps to go, a relatively tranquil race was disrupted by a five-car collision in turn two. After a restart, rookie Brandon Jones bumped the rear of Justin Allgaier, who slid sideways and collected oncoming Darrell Wallace Jr., mangling Allgaier’s Chevrolet and destroying the Fords of Wallace and Ryan Reed.
Allgaier, whose car returned to the track without a left fender, salvaged a 14th-place finish and slipped from third to fourth in the Chase, while Wallace finished 33rd in the race and dropped to eighth in the Chase, which goes to Texas and Phoenix before determining the Championship Four in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Busch overtook Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Suarez with a friendly push from Sadler’s Chevy with 15 laps to go.
“Elliott had a stout car on restarts and was able to push us each time he was behind us,” Busch said. ‘I got lucky with the lane selection there. Suarez took the top and thought Larson would be pretty good at pushing, too, but Elliott was a bit better today.
“That certainly was a key moment to the race. I still think if Suarez got a good jump, we probably could have passed him in the late going.”
Jennifer Jo Cobb of Kansas City, Kan., a regular in the NASCAR trucks series, finished 29th in the 40-driver field in her only Xfinity appearance of the season.