Kyle Busch bounty adds drama to Charlotte Truck race

Kyle Busch bounty adds drama to Charlotte Truck race
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

It’s on. 

Both Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Gander Outdoors, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 NASCAR Cup Series Ford, have confirmed that a $100,000 bounty is available to any Cup driver who can beat Kyle Busch in Tuesday night’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Harvick offered the original $50,000 before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the NASCAR season, and Lemonis added another $50,000 to the pot soon thereafter. 

Lemonis said via Twitter on Monday, “I already know who’s collecting…”

Certainly, Chase Elliott in the No. 24 GMS Chevy entry has to be the favorite to pull off the upset over the defending race winner—and not just from a performance standpoint. Given the recent history between Busch and Elliott, after the defending Cup champion “miscalculated” and punted the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the closing laps at Darlington Raceway on May 20, the fans would like nothing better to see a battle unfold between the two drivers without any points on the line.

As if the truck series needed any additional firepower following a three-month hiatus... Still, thrusting Elliott into the ring with Busch is a promoter's dream. 

Elliott, 24, has two wins in 12 truck starts. His victories came at the inaugural event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in 2013 and at Martinsville Speedway three years ago. When Elliott announced via Twitter he would be running the truck race with GMS, he added, “You have that checkbook ready @KevinHarvick/@marcuslemonis?!?” He’ll start 26th, five rows behind Busch.

Of course, John Hunter Nemechek is no slouch in truck competition. He has won six races in the series, including two on intermediate tracks. He’ll pilot the No. 8 Nemco Ford. Brennan Poole is also on the entry list with support from On Point Motorsports. But the Cup rookie has yet to win in any of NASCAR’s top tours.

Busch will attempt to win his 58th race in the truck series behind the wheel of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. His record in truck competition at Charlotte is impressive, with eight wins and 11 podium finishes in 13 starts. The Las Vegas native won the only other truck race he entered this season in front of his hometown crowd—on another 1.5-mile track. And given that Busch is coming off of Monday night’s win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, no other driver has as much track time at Charlotte.

“I don’t know that (Monday) does anything for tomorrow night, just gives me some more laps around the track and some more view into what’s going on,” Busch said after his Xfinity Series win. Hopefully, all the guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports have really prepared our Tundras well. 

“I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Cessna, Big Machine Hand Sanitizer Tundra and hopefully having a good night there and being able to win again here at Charlotte Motor Speedway and take home another trophy. There’s going to be some good competitors out there and strong competition I’m sure. We’ll see what happens and hopefully, we can keep it up front.”

On Tuesday morning, Kevin Harvick tweeted he is changing the parameters of the reward should Elliott, Nemechek or Poole persevere.

“The bounty is still on for tonight’s @NASCAR_Trucks race. However, in the current environment, the $50,000 donation will be made in the name of the cup driver who is eligible and beats @KyleBusch to a covid-19 relief effort of their choice.”

Unfortunately, that might be all the charity that is offered up on Tuesday night. After all, Busch has won his last seven Truck Series starts, including a sweep of all five events he was allowed to run last year.

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