Kyle Busch collected his first Xfinity Series victory of 2020—and his 97th NXS win overall with a last-lap pass at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The current Cup champion survived his share of obstacles in the No. 54 Appalachian State Toyota, including a challenge from Austin Cindric on the final restart as the Alsco 300 extended into overtime. With a push from Daniel Hemric, Cindric cleared Busch coming to the green.
But Busch regained the lead entering Turn 1. He held off Hemric by .178-seconds at the line.
"I thought choosing the outside was the right way, but obviously it wasn’t,” Busch said. “I don't know. Those guys put up a whale of a fight tonight on restarts. I guess I'm not good at it anymore (smiles).”
Busch was plenty good. Despite being busted for speeding on Lap 148, a rash of cautions over the final 50 laps helped paved his way to the front.
“It was interesting and it was crazy,” Busch said. “Earlier in the race, Ross Chastain gave me a hell of a run on a restart and then right there, Austin (Cindric) gave me a hell of a run on that restart and I thought picking the outside lane would be the sure launch and those guys would spin their tires down there and not get going.
“It might have been the 8 (Hemric) that helped the 22 stay alongside of me and he was just able to clear me in one and two. Crazy how all that turned out.”
Cindric finished third followed by Ross Chastain, Justin Allgaier, Brett Moffitt, Michael Annett, Brandon Brown, Harrison Burton, Myatt Snider and Noah Gragson.
Chastain led the first 31 laps and battled Busch for the point over the first 100 laps. However, the Xfinity Series regular could not hold off Busch for the first two stage wins. Busch led eight times for a race-high 94 laps with his longest green-flag run between Laps 103 to 149.
Busch had extended his lead over Brandon Jones by four-seconds. However, when he executed a green flag pit stop on Lap 149, Busch was busted for speeding and had to serve a drive-thru penalty. Six laps later, NASCAR called a caution after Timmy Hill’s engine spewed oil on the track. Busch cycled up to ninth for the final 38-lap run but his progress was slowed by five additional cautions. When Snider slid up into Allgaier on Lap 184, Busch ran third behind Cindric and Gragson.
Busch took the lead from Cindric on Lap 190. Three laps later, Riley Herbst lost control of his car and nailed Justin Haley in the process. Busch held the point through the 11th and final caution after Gragson got sideways and collected Haley, Tommy Joe Martins, Burton and Jones.
Cindric appeared to be a sitting duck having 20-lap older tires than Busch. But when the race returned to green with two laps to decide the contest, Hemric shoved the No. 22 Ford to the front.
“It just didn’t work out for us,” Cindric said. “I was on older tires and everyone else on older tires ended up crashing. It is hard to beat the best in the business on older tires. I got a great push from Daniel. I am shocked the restart zone went as well as it did. That was a big struggle for me all night. I knew I was going to have to defend in three and four and took the top in one and two. He just had way more grip than I did.
“The heat cycles were killer. I never lifted driving into three. I just gave up second but didn’t really care at that point. I just wanted to win the race. Overall, it was a great night and I am really proud of my team. I came here with something that we have never come to the race track with. We had to work on it all night. It shows the strength of the team and I am really proud of the effort.”
Despite multiple mistakes on Monday night, Chase Briscoe finished 20th and holds an eight-point lead over Cindric.
“I am really proud of this team,” Cindric added. “We were talking about it on the drive to the track today that this was our turning point last year. It was probably one of my worst races last year. To almost beat the best in the business on worse tires, ugh. I never lifted. I never lifted into three until I knew that I was done.
“I am really thankful to be driving this Ford Mustang. These guys worked really hard with what we unloaded with and there were definitely a lot of unknowns. It was a team effort. I want to win so bad.”