It does not matter where and when it happened. If there is a NASCAR Xfinity Series race and Kyle Busch is entered, he is going to be a contender.
Saturday’s Pit Boss 250 at Circuit of the Americas marked the first time that NASCAR raced at the Austin road course, yet it did not take long for Busch to acclimate himself to the track as he led thirty-five of forty-six laps from the pole. With his ninety-eighth career Xfinity win, he is now two victories away from the century mark.
Busch, running his first Xfinity race of the year, was the fastest in qualifying ahead of fellow Cup Series driver Ross Chastain. Chastain was originally not entered for the race, but took over the #07 SS-Green Light Racing machine from Joe Graf Jr. after Graf strained his knee earlier in the week; Graf practiced on Friday, but found his injury hampered his performance too much and elected to sit out the event. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Jesse Little, Kyle Weatherman, Josh Williams, Bayley Currey were all full-time drivers who failed to qualify for the race, as did Stephen Leicht and Caesar Bacarella. Daniel Hemric (transmission change), Kris Wright (engine change), and Ryan Sieg (engine change and unapproved post-inspection adjustments) were all sent to the rear.
After Busch led the first eleven laps, Boris Said and Ryan Ellis produced the first caution of the race when their cars stalled on the track. Said, a longtime road course ringer, was running his first race since retiring in 2017. Noah Gragson spun off course and suffered an engine failure, ending his race after thirteen laps.
The yellow resulted in a two-lap run to the end of the opening stage, one that A.J. Allmendinger won ahead of Tyler Reddick, Brandon Jones, Andy Lally, Jeremy Clements, Justin Allgaier, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Austin Cindric, and Miguel Paludo. Busch and various other drivers pitted during the yellow.
Allgaier stayed out between stages to take the lead for the restart. Cindric, who led Friday’s practice, took the lead on lap 18 and led two laps before Busch was back on top. Shortly after Busch claimed the top spot, Tommy Joe Martins suffered an engine failure and brought out a yellow flag. Another restart came on lap 23 as Busch continued to lead. Paludo retired from the race with a rear gear issue.
In a repeat of Stage #1, Busch and the others elected to pit before the segment’s conclusion. This cycled the lead to Justin Haley who took the stage win. Michael Annett, Jade Buford, Dillon, Busch, Clements, Allgaier, Allmendinger, Harvick, and Colby Howard rounded out the top ten. Wright and Timmy Hill joined Paludo, Martins, and Gragson as the race’s additional retirements during the stage after they also blew their engines.
Busch assumed the lead to start the final stage. Unlike its two predecessors, Stage #3 ran entirely green with the only incidents being mechanical problems or single-car spins. Facing little opposition, Busch drove off to the win with an eleven-second margin over second-placed Allmendinger.
In addition to becoming the first Xfinity winner at COTA, Busch enjoys his third series road course victory and first since Watkins Glen International in 2017; the first was at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in 2007. The 2009 series champion has run at four road courses in NASCAR’s second tier, with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal being the lone one that he failed to win at as he finished tenth in two starts in 2009 and 2012. Montreal is no longer on the NASCAR schedule, meaning a win there is impossible barring a return, though Busch has a chance to add to his slate at Road America in July.
“It’s really, really cool to come here for the first race at a new track and win,” Busch said after the race. “I’m kicking myself right now because I never won at Montreal, but I won at every other road course I’ve raced at, so it’s kind of a bummer, but overall real proud of the effort.”
Besides Busch, Harvick (fourth), Cole Custer (seventh), Reddick (eighth), Austin Dillon (thirteenth), and Chastain (thirtieth) were among the full-time Cup drivers running the Xfinity race in preparation for their main event on Sunday. Harvick scored B.J. McLeod Motorsports‘s best finish and only the team’s second top five after David Starr—who was replaced by Said in the MBM Motorsports #13 for COTA—did so at Daytona in 2017. Reddick and Dillon’s runs respectively débuted the Xfinity programmes for Jordan Anderson Racing and Bassett Racing after both teams had been locked out of the non-qualifying races to start the year.
Among the one-off drivers and road ringers, Preston Pardus finished fourteenth. Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly, who are team-mates in IMSA, finished next to each other in eighteenth and nineteenth; Pumpelly was making his NASCAR début. Said finished thirty-first as the last car running.
|1||1||54||Kyle Busch*||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||46||Running|
|2||7||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|3||9||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|4||12||5||Kevin Harvick*||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Ford||46||Running|
|5||8||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford||46||Running|
|6||10||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||46||Running|
|7||3||17||Cole Custer*||SS-Green Light Racing||Ford||46||Running|
|8||5||31||Tyler Reddick*||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|9||6||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|10||11||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|11||35||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|12||21||02||Brett Moffitt||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|13||17||77||Austin Dillon*||Bassett Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|14||22||91||Preston Pardus||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|15||18||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|16||29||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||46||Running|
|17||19||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||46||Running|
|18||13||23||Andy Lally||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|19||16||6||Spencer Pumpelly||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|20||4||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|21||23||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|22||30||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|23||33||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|24||31||99||Ryan Ellis||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Toyota||46||Running|
|25||34||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford||46||Running|
|26||14||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|27||25||52||Gray Gaulding||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|28||27||15||Colby Howard||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet||46||Running|
|29||26||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||46||Running|
|30||2||07||Ross Chastain*||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet||36||Running|
|31||24||13||Boris Said||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||35||Running|
|32||36||26||Kris Wright*||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota||29||Engine|
|33||28||66||Timmy Hill*||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||29||Engine|
|34||15||8||Miguel Paludo||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||25||Rear Gear|
|35||32||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet||19||Engine|
|36||20||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet||13||Engine|