BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Busch went over, under, around and through the entire Camping World Truck Series field to win the O’Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday night.
After starting from the back of the pack, Busch threaded his way through the field, took the lead on lap 91 and had just enough fuel left in his tank to survive a green-white-checkered finish on a wild night in Bristol.
Busch, who pitted just once on lap 30, said the engine inside his No. 18 Toyota was sputtering as he tried to hold off Aric Almirola for the win. Busch took the white flag seconds before a record 13th caution flag flew as Matt Crafton and Austin Dillon got together exiting turn four, allowing Busch to take the checkers under caution.
“It ran out on the second to last restart, and it ran out on the last restart coming right there to the line,” Busch said. “I wasn’t sure if I got that white flag or not. Fortunately, I had enough left for a burnout.”
Busch started 36th, but had already passed 11 trucks by the third lap. He worked his way into 18th place by lap 10 and cracked the top 10 before pitting on lap 30. By lap 60, he was running in second behind Mike Skinner, who had yet to pit at that point.
Once Skinner finally pitted on lap 90, Busch inherited the lead and never looked back. He hopes to complete a historic trifecta by winning the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this weekend.
“I was very close last year,” Busch said. “I don’t see why not. I think my chances are pretty good. I like racing here.”
There was already plenty of history made on Wednesday. The 13 caution flags marked a BMS record for a truck series event, as did the 71 caution laps. Busch’s win from the 36th position also set a track record for the truck series — Travis Kvapil set the previous mark when he came from 12th place to win back in 2003.
Needless to say, all of that contact caused tempers to boil over at times. Elliott Sadler was battling Timothy Peters for second place when he hooked the back end of Peters’ No. 17 machine entering turn three on lap 163, sending both trucks into the wall. Peters then caught Sadler under caution and gave him a few bumps in turn two.
Peters rallied for a seventh-place finish while Sadler later blew a tire and plummeted to 26th.
Following the race, Dillon had some words with Crafton, and both crews got in on the argument that occurred on pit road.
“They were upset,” Crafton said. “I can understand why they’d be upset. That was the last thing I wanted to do was wreck him. I was trying to get him up off the bottom.”
Almirola started 19th, but was able to work his way to the front by the end of the race. He was hoping to capitalize in case Busch ran out of fuel, but he had to settle for second.
“We came down with 50 laps to go, and took four tires,” Almirola said. “That was the right call. We got it really rocking there. Once the tires came up, it seemed to take off. I thought I had Kyle there when he sputtered.”
Almarola was able to cut into Todd Bodine’s point lead, but he still trails by 211 points. Bodine finished sixth.
Meanwhile, Ron Hornaday Jr. came back to finish third after spinning out on the backstretch early in the race. Although he damaged his truck, the veteran was able to salvage a solid finish.
“It probably could have been better,” Hornaday said. “I didn’t have all the horsepower we needed under the hood, so to come home third, I feel pretty good.”
Kingsport native John King II was impressive in his truck debut. The youngster ran as high as third and was running on the lead lap for most of the way. He even saved his truck when it went into a tailspin in turn two, gathering up the Ford without any damage on his way to a 15th-place finish