Busch moved a victory away from the series season victory record of 10 he shares with Sam Ard. Busch, a 10-time winner in 2008, is second in series history with 39 victories — nine behind Mark Martin’s record.
Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Jason Leffler and Brad Keselowski in front of a standing-room only crowd of roughly 55,000.
Trevor Bayne, who became the first Nationwide driver in 18 years to capture three consecutive poles earlier Saturday, finished fifth.
Harvick took the lead from Busch during a late pit stop by taking just two tires while Busch grabbed four. But Busch had the strongest car of the night, and he proved it by zipping past Harvick on the outside with 25 laps to go on the 0.875-mile oval.
For the second week in a row, Busch won without running a single practice lap.
Busch, who started second after flying back from practice for the Sprint Cup race Saturday at Pocono, grabbed the lead from Bayne on the opening lap, marking the 17th straight Nationwide race he’s led at some point.
Busch was still in front when Reed Sorenson popped a front tire 42 laps in, causing the No. 32 car to slam into the wall and catch fire under the hood. Sorenson, who was running 12th, was pulled out safely.
Bayne gave Busch all he could handle through the first third of the race and finally jumped back in front 76 laps in.
Bayne was the first driver to start out front in three straight races since Jeff Gordon did it in 1992, and at 19 he’s also the youngest to do so.
Bayne has yet to turn all that qualifying speed into a victory, though. He began to fade as the sun went down and was overtaken by Harvick two-thirds of the way in. Bayne’s best finish came at Gateway two weeks ago when he crossed third.
Brian Keselowski drilled Colin Braun after Braun slid into the wall and came to a stop in the middle of the track 93 laps in. Brendan Gaughan, Paul Menard and Mark Green were also collected in the crash, which brought out a red flag.
Busch retook the lead on the restart and was 3 seconds ahead by the midway point.
With Sunday’s race at Pocono nearly 1,000 miles away from Iowa, only eight drivers are doing double-duty this weekend. That gave hope to many of the Nationwide-only drivers that they could snap a 16-race winless streak dating to Justin Allgaier’s win at Bristol in March.
Alas, that stretch is now at 17 races. Leffler’s third-place finish was tops among Nationwide-only drivers.