Exit at the top; Kyle Busch takes 102nd place in Atlanta

His NASCAR Xfinity Series career began on May 24, 2003 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His first victory came at the Richmond Raceway on May 14, 2004. But was Kyle Busch’s 102nd victory in his 362nd career start the last time the 2009 Xfinity Series champion competed in NASCAR’s second tier division? ? According to Busch, that could very well be the case.

Unfortunately, the celebration will be more low-key than the other previous victories. It showed Busch didn’t bow after taking the NASCAR official’s checkered flag at Saturday’s Credit Karma Money 250 (July 10) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Busch lined up on the inside lane just behind teammate Daniel Hemric, who was the leader. Busch pushed Hemric’s rear bumper on the restart, seeking to propel him into the lead. Instead, as they drove through the bumps going into the first corner, the nudge knocked Hemric’s car upside down. Hemric slid down the track, cutting off the left front of AJ Allmendinger’s car, and crashed into the outside wall.

Busch was the control car for the final restart and withstood Jeb Burton in a two-lap shootout. Before a series of late warnings, Hemric was leading Busch. What seemed like a decisive victory for Hemric turned into a 30th place finish. Burton was second, followed by Noah Gragson third, Justin Haley fourth and Ty Dillon fifth.

Good

Not only did Our Motorsports have a difference in day and night results in Atlanta on Saturday compared to the first trip in March, it was also the best day for the organization in 2021.

Ty Dillon, driving No.23, was fifth and full-time driver Brett Moffitt was sixth. The team has placed in the top five and top ten this season with both cars, but never in the same race. As an added bonus, the duo ran in the top 10 for most of the race in pure sprint – no luck.

Despite all the tire strategy at the end and the three restarts in the last 20 laps, Ty Dillon and Moffitt had opportunities to win and might have had it not been for one or two more warnings.

Our motorsports got some speed but struggled to get the finishes they deserved, but on Saturday they did. Moffitt changed his championship statement from the Camping World Truck Series to the Xfinity Series in April, but is still 210 points behind Jeremy Clements, 12th. It will likely take a win in one of the remaining seven races of the regular season for Moffitt to secure a spot. Saturday will serve as a confidence booster for himself and the Our Motorsports team.

The bad

Riley Herbst did not overturn his Ford Mustang Stewart-Haas Racing for a new set of tires during the competition warning on lap 21. Atlanta’s surface is eating away at the rubber and lap times plummet on every circuit. If he had gone to the pits he would have started at the back, but he would have driven up front with the possibility of completing about fifteen green flag racing laps.

He finished 18th in the first stage, missing critical points and a position on the track. The second stage was no better, as Herbst finished 20th and finally finished the race in 19th. The team only got the 18 points for 19th place. The team registered 43 ticks behind Jeremy Clements, 12th in the points standings.

Although he did not earn any stage points, Clements had an exceptional day. He was often in the top 10 and finished eighth, which extended his cut-off lead to 54 points, now over Herbst. Brandon Brown came in 13th in the standings, 33rd behind Clements, which means all Herbst could accomplish was drop from 14th to 13th in points.

Had the decision been made to retire on the competition warning, Herbst could have scored some stage points, perhaps even a stage victory, and better yet, gain a valuable position on the track.

The ugly one

It was Hemric’s race to lose with 18 laps to go. Busch struggled to control his car in the corners and allowed Hemric to keep around eight-tenths of a second behind him. With 17 laps to go, the whole game has changed.

Hemric had to come to the pit for scuff marks, like many others, while others got off for their last set of new tires. Kyle Weatherman stayed on the sidelines and became the race leader and controlled the restart. He chose the outside lane, giving Hemric a clear path to the leader entering the first corner.

Weatherman then had a mechanical error and was unable to change gears. Many cars passed him before Brown and Harrison Burton crashed into him, which again cautioned. On the next restart with six laps to go, his teammate Busch gave Hemric the bump in the first corner which led to Hemric’s downfall. It’s hard to watch a driver take a win in a series of events like this, but when a teammate lands the knockout blow and that teammate wins, it’s really ugly … even if the teammate doesn’t. did not. mean.

Outsider performance of the race

While end-of-race warnings can ruin the day for a driver, like Hemric, it can be a blessing to others. With 25 laps to go, Ryan Vargas was 24th behind the wheel of his No.6 Chevrolet JD Motorsports. The end-of-race warnings helped him move up the standings to 12th place, with a final of 14th.

It’s a season record for Vargas and his third-best career result. You can feel Vargas’ excitement through his post-race tweet and know that today’s finish means a lot to him.

Dual-service contacts

Busch’s victory in Saturday’s Credit Karma Money 250 means he goes five-to-five in 2021, winning every attempt in a starting quintet (Circuit of the Americas, Texas, Nashville Superspeedway, Road America, Atlanta). Busch had the strongest car in the first two stages of the race and perhaps relaxed to preserve his gear. He lost some of his advantage in the third and final stage, but eventually came away with the win.

Austin Dillon was the surprise intruder in Saturday’s race. Less than half an hour before the start of the race, he received a call from JR Motorsports to drive the No. 1 Chevrolet in place of Michael Annett. Annett suffered from a leg injury and it was determined that he would not participate in the race.

Dillon was available and jumped in the car. He started from the back but finished 10th in stages 1 and 2. Dillon continued to fight for the top 10 in the third and final stage but was relegated after restarting sixth on the final restart. He finished 11th, impressive having never set foot in a Chevrolet JRM before.

Quotable

“It wasn’t supposed to happen.” – Kyle Busch

“I wanted to push him (Hemric). I wanted to hit him. I just wanted to hit him forward and straight. But [I] Turned him on his side a bit, then I think he got more help on his right side. I was just trying to help a teammate there. That’s why I restarted behind him. – Kyle Busch

Last word

Was Saturday the last start of NASCAR Xfinity Series career for Kyle Busch? Before the race, he posted a photo on Instagram of himself looking out of an airplane window with the caption “Big day today. Thinking back to over 100 wins in the #XfinitySeries. Let’s go out w uno mas.”

NBC’s Marty Snider asked Busch after the race if this was his last race. Busch replied that he knew it was his last race but noted “never say never”.

Personally, I hope this isn’t the last time Busch gets behind the wheel of an Xfinity series car. From 2008 to 2016, Busch scored 75 of his 102 career victories, including the 2009 championship. This level of dominance has rarely been replicated in the sport and it was controversial to fans. Busch is one of the best motor racing drivers in the history of motorsport, and like many dominant athletes and sports teams, their dominance is only appreciated when they are gone or their talents wear off. Just look at Jimmie Johnson and his last three years in the Cup Series.

When Busch joins the Xfinity Series or the Camping World Truck Series for that matter, it’s a chance for inexperienced young drivers and their teams to see how they stack up against one of the best drivers of all time.

As it stands, drivers declared for Cup Series points with three or more seasons are limited to five Xfinity Series starts per season. Hopefully Kyle Busch will change his mind and decide to come back in 2022 for five more wins. Even Xfinity series regulars say they enjoy it when he runs on the series because they want to compete against the best, and Busch is one of the best, if not the best.

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following

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the next 2021 road trip destination for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This is the first trip to New Hampshire for the Xfinity Series since 2019, as the 2020 race has been canceled and moved to Kentucky Speedway due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 goes green at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and PRN on Saturday, July 17.

The series will be on hiatus for the next two weeks, the last weekends of the season, for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Starting Saturday August 7 at Watkins Glen International, the Xfinity Field begins a streak of 14 consecutive races that will culminate in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday November 6.

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