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DAVISON: Kyle Busch’s Xfinity win No. 98 comes at COTA

Austin, TX, May, 23/21 (by John Davison): In his 17th season of scoring NASCAR victories, Kyle Busch dominated the Pit Boss 250 here notching his 98th Xfinity series victory, one of 217 career wins in the three National NASCAR racing series. His lead over second-place AJ Allmendinger was a tick over eleven seconds, with Justin Allgaier, Kevin Harvick and Austin Cindric capping the top five at the checkered flag.

“It’s really really cool to come here for the first race at a new track and to win,’’ Busch said. “Real proud of the effort. I think the biggest thing is just all the resources and stuff we have and being able to get laps on the track today, feel the tire, everything like that and then being able to get back out there tomorrow and do everything all over again tomorrow with the Cup car.’’

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of the Americas got started under sunshine on an almost dry track, unlike the Camping World truck race a few hours earlier which has run under rain for most of its distance. Teams were allowed to bolt on either slick tires or wet-weather treaded tires. Top qualifier Kyle Busch led the field to the start, flanked by Ross Chastain, with Cole Custer and Canada’s Alex Labbe in the second row.

About a third of the way through the first Stage, Daniel Hemric pitted with shifter problems, resulting in a long stop for repairs. Kyle Busch led the entire first Stage with AJ Allmendinger in second and Justin Allgaier third. With five laps left in the Stage, Boris Said coasted to a stop on the back straight, causing a caution to retrieve the No. 13 Toyota. Most leaders pitted during the yellow but Allmendinger and Tyler Reddick stayed on the track, with the 'Dinger counted as the winner in Stage One, followed by Reddick, Brandon Jones, Andy Lally and Jeremy Clements to close out the first Stage.

As the Stage ended, Noah Gragson spun and stalled in Turn 14 with a large puddle of oil underneath the car when it got towed away. Austin Cindric, who had pitted before the end of the Stage, took the lead for the restart, soon chased by Kyle Busch after Busch restarted in fourth. Busch passed Cindric for the lead just before the 20-lap mark in the race but a caution for fluids from Tommy Joe Martins' car slowed the pace for track cleanup. After that, Busch immediately drove away from pursuers Cindric and Allgaier, with Kevin Harvick running fifth.

Justin Haley won the second Stage, followed by Michael Annett, Jade Buford, Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch after Busch and many other front-runners pitted before the Stage end to get track position for the restart. Then Busch wasted no time in stretching his lead over Allmendinger to nearly two-and-a-half seconds, with Allgaier another two seconds back and a similar gap to Hemric, who recovered from his earlier problems and penalty.

Austin Cindric, after having dropped well back in the field due to a slow pit stop, moved up to sixth place. The battle between Riley Herbst and Myatt Snider for position finally came to an end when the pair locked up a front tire and both spun, breaking up a great race for the 12th spot.

The only laps Busch didn’t lead were when he pitted or when he made a brief rally after Stage breaks. Following the first Stage break, for example, he restarted fourth and was leading the field two laps later.

“It’s shocking, Kyle Busch is actually pretty good,’’ Allmendinger said smiling. “It’s always fun to race Kyle. Did everything we could, got a Stage win, got a lot of points and finished second. That was as good as we were going to do.’’

The next Xfinity race will be run next Saturday, May 29, 2021 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

• Click HERE for the Race Results



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