Chase Elliott exacted his revenge on Kyle Busch at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday night.
Not only was Elliott able to stop Busch’s 7-race winning streak in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, he collected the $100,000 bounty put up by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis in the process for any NASCAR Cup regular that take down Rowdy.
To add insult to injury, as Elliott waved the checkered flag he duplicated Busch’s famous celebratory bow at the start-finish line.
“It was about beating him and we did it,” Elliott said. “So why not have fun with this?
“I was in it for the challenge—more than anything. (The truck) was really good from the get-go, for having no laps. The splitter was where it needed to be. It made it easy for me to move forward and try to get back acclimated. It was a really long time. It doesn’t make up for Sunday, but it was still a really good night. Glad to win and glad to do some good for the relief effort for this virus.”
Busch finished second .725-seconds behind the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet. He led 25 laps but fought handling on the No. 51 truck throughout the night after right front travel limiters broke. Although Busch closed to within three-tenths of Elliott on the final green flag run, his truck faded at the end.
“I just got tight,” Busch said. “It sucks when you start the race with broken pieces after sitting for six months. There’s going to be some (expletive) talking when we get home. That was unacceptable. And we got beat.”
As for Elliott mimicking the bow?
“Tt’s the first I’m hearing about it,” Busch said. “Imitation is the strongest form of flattery or something, I don’t know what it is. That’s cute.”
In his fourth career truck start, Zane Smith impressed. The 20-year-old Huntington Beach, Californian led twice for 15 laps at the point for his first podium finish.
“That was definitely fun,” Smith said. “I can tell you one thing, I’m worn out, I haven’t been in a truck in 70 some days. “If you are going to lose to two guys, those are two good ones.
“Props to Chase, he won some dough tonight. A huge thank you to LaPaz Margarita Mix, everyone whose gotten me to this point, I’ve always wanted to race in the top-level here and I’ve never thought I would be in the No. 21 truck for GMS Racing. They gave me an amazing truck tonight.
“We miss you fans. Just an awesome night.”
Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Ty Majesky, Austin Hill and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top10.
The truckers were fairly reserved during the first half of the race. Ross Chastain won the first stage over Hill. Elliott won Stage 2 over Ben Rhodes. The first caution for an actual incident occurred on Lap 80 when Jesse Iwuji bobbled. Brennan Poole attempted to miss the No. 33 truck, checked up and was plowed by Stewart Friesen.
Kyle Busch held the lead through the caution and remained on the track as the race went green on Lap 87 but was passed by Moffitt. Busch returned to the point two laps later. He turned the lead over to Smith on Lap 97 when he pitted during the caution triggered by Garrett Smithley on the front stretch.
Smith retained the lead on the Lap 100 restart and battled with former series champion Sauter for the lead. Sauter finally took the point on Lap 108. But after battling Smith, the No. 13 Ford opened the door for Elliott who took the lead on Lap 111 and never looked back.
“He was a little better than I was there at the end. I got tight,” Elliott said. “I don’t think we adjusted enough on that last pit stop. I was a little scared. I really didn’t know exactly what I needed or what these things did as time went. Luckily the right front stayed on it long enough to get to the end. And I think he burned out his stuff pretty hard trying to get to me.
“It was a lot a fun. To be able to come out and outrun him, and him finish second—I’d much rather him finish second than wreck or something, so I feel like I did something right.”
Truck Series champion Matt Crafton led six laps but broke the track bar on Lap 100. The No. 88 ThorSport Ford was forced to the garage for repairs. Crafton returned to the track on Lap 126 but finished 35th, 27 laps off the pace.
Austin Hill leads the truck standings by 17-points over Johnny Sauter.