SPARTA, Ky. — No matter the circumstances, Kyle Busch always seems to figure it out at Kentucky Speedway.

Busch took the lead during a late caution on lap 168 Saturday and held on to win the 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race. The race had been postponed a day earlier because of storms, creating a 700-mile doubleheader for Busch and several other Cup drivers.

Starting the first of two races on the pole, Busch led three times for 70 laps to earn his second straight series victory at Kentucky and third overall on the 1.5-mile oval. Though less dominant than last July’s triumph from the pole in which he led 185 laps, Busch’s strong car and wise pit strategy yielded a familiar result.

Pitting earlier for tires and fuel paid off for Busch, who stayed on the track during the final yellow flag. There was no catching his No. 18 Toyota after the restart, though Ryan Blaney tried his best on the final lap after passing Erik Jones’ Toyota for second.

“We did what we needed to do to be there at the end,” Busch said. “We took four tires and that kind of got us behind there with two pit stops to go, and then some of those guys came in again. Obviously, our car was really fast out front and once I got in clean air I didn’t think anybody had anything for us.”

Blaney’s Ford finished 1.097 seconds behind, a strong recovery after he was penalized for a pit road tire violation during the caution.

Kevin Harvick was fourth in a Ford, with Ty Dillon fifth in a Chevy.

“I thought the right call was to pit and we just had a violation,” said Blaney, who led twice for 52 laps and won the second stage. “That stings. It almost stings worse running all the way up there and finishing second than if we would have finished 10th or something.”

Busch soon blew out the left rear tire that served him well while doing the celebratory burnout.

Jones led twice for a race-high 77 laps and won the first stage of a race that initially featured more fits than starts.

The green flag was still waving when debris starting flying mid-pack. Ryan Reed’s No. 16 Ford collided with Brandon Jones’ Chevy to trigger a chain-reaction wreck as the field passed the start-finish line. Brendan Gaughan wrecked a few laps later to bring out another caution.

Things eventually settled down, with Busch, Blaney and Jones trading the lead before Busch did what he usually does at Kentucky.


More racing: racing.ap.org

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GARY B. GRAVES
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