Hampton, Ga. — Check another one off the list for Kyle Busch.
Less than 24 hours after losing the Sprint Cup pole, Busch claimed his first Xfinity Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Busch and Kyle Larson pulled away from the field after the final yellow flag. Larson closed the gap to about a half-second in the closing laps, but the rally ended when he got caught up briefly behind the lapped car of Ryan Preece.
Busch crossed the line 0.466 seconds ahead of Larson, then did his customary burnout and bow in front of the main grandstand, holding the checkered flag. No one else was within 10 seconds of the first two cars.
The winner has plenty of experience celebrating in the second-tier series, claiming his career-best 77th victory, though Atlanta was one of three active tracks where he’d never won an Xfinity race.
“This is a pretty neat deal,” Busch said. “I’m glad to get it out of the way. I checked another off the list.”
The victory was especially sweet coming less than 24 hours after Busch surrendered the pole for Sunday’s Cup race when his car failed inspection.
He won the pole for the Xfinity race in the morning and then dominated on a sunny afternoon, leading 119 of 163 laps.
Of course, that didn’t lessen the disappointment of having to start from the back of the field Sunday.
“This is Xfinity, that’s Cup,” Busch said. “But it is what it is. It’s not that big a deal.”
Busch was thrilled to add another track to his victory list, especially since he had had five runner-up finishes in Atlanta. Watkins Glen and Las Vegas — site of next week’s event — are the only other active Xfinity tracks where he hasn’t won.
He’s looking forward to checking another off the list at his hometown track.
“I’ve not won at Vegas,” Busch said. “That seems kind of odd.”
John Hunter Nemechek emerged from the carnage that took out the front runners to win the Truck series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Nemechek, the son of longtime Cup driver Joe Nemechek, held off Cameron Hayley by 0.31 seconds to capture his second career Truck victory.
On a restart with two laps to go, the 18-year-old came through the tri-oval side by side with John Wes Townley. When Townley got loose, Nemechek pulled away to win for a team that lacks a major sponsor.
Matt Crafton led much of the race, only to get taken out in a huge wreck caused by Christopher Bell with 19 laps to go. The wreck also claimed Bell’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, who was running second.
Bell surged to the lead after the wreckage was cleared, but he cut a tire with seven laps remaining and slammed into the wall.