Kyle Busch Claims His First Watkins Glen International NASCAR XFINITY Series Victoryby Benjamin Sanders August 5, 2017
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Kyle Busch captured the checkered flag in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on Saturday afternoon, claiming his first series win at the track.
Busch led a race-high of 43 laps and ended the Ford and Team Penske dominance at the famed road course. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 NOS Rowdy Toyota Camry held off Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski on a late-restart with just three laps to go to win by more than a second a second.
“I just knew – I was hoping and praying we could get to the white flag and then we didn’t, but then I knew once that caution did come out you’ve just got to focus on the restart,” Busch said. “You’ve just got to hit your marks on the take off and then you’ve got to be able to know where you want to start slowing down for the corner for turn 1. When I got a good launch on Brad (Keselowski) there and got ahead of him a little bit I kind of guarded my entry in order to make sure not to overshoot it and it was close so I was glad I didn’t go to where I thought I needed to go. All in all, the car cut through there real good and I got a good launch up through the esses and down through the backstretch and had a nice gap on everybody by then.”
Busch overcame an early spin and pit infraction to extend his XFINITY Series all-time win marker to 90 and to claim victory 139 for Joe Gibbs Racing, which surpasses Roush-Fenway Racing’s series leading team win total. Busch pitted several laps after the Team Penske duo and was able to gap both drivers by putting in some of the fastest laps of the race, prior to his final stop.
“You’ve just got to get through it, but unfortunately I screwed up early and I got us behind but the guys gave me such an awesome race car that we could make it back up and we were able to do that today,” Busch said. “So, this NOS Energy Drink Rowdy flavor Camry was awesome today. This Toyota Camry drove really good. The guys had awesome brakes on the car. The tires were pretty good too. I thought I flat spotted them a couple of times, but they held through throughout the run so that was cool.”
On the final restart, pole-winner Logano, passed teammate Keselowski, but he was too far back to mount a substantial challenge to Busch. Logano recovered from a slow final pit stop to capitalize on the final restart to claim his third top-two finish in the last three seasons at Watkins Glen International.
Keselowski had the car to beat in the initial stages, charging from fifth to the lead on the first run, but he struggled late in the race with a loose car and a slow final restart. Keselowski ultimately settled for a third-place finish after a tight battle with teammate Logano.
Justin Allgaier was the highest placed XFINITY Series regular in fourth with Stage 2 winner Paul Menard in fifth.
Rounding out the top-10 were Kevin Harvick, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, Brendan Gaughan and William Byron.
Points leader Elliott Sadler had a rough afternoon with an 18th-place finish, but he maintains his championship point lead over JR Motorsports teammate Byron by 52 points.
This race begins an extremely important section of the XFINITY Series schedule with three road courses in the next four races leading up to the Playoffs. The next race for the series is at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, August 12. Live broadcast will begin a t 3:30 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images