Kyle Busch gets record-breaking win by holding off Johnny Sauter

After a lengthy red flag for rain/mist, Kyle Busch was able to hold off 2016 Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter for his 52nd career win in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, breaking Ron Hornaday’s former record of 51 series wins.

“I think I had a vibration there at the end of Stage 2 or loose wheel,” Busch told MRN Radio. “I just wanted to make sure everything was right. Last year we had a wheel fall off, so we don’t want to see that happen again. We were able to power through the field there, our truck was just super fast. It’s cool to be able to put this Cessna Tundra back in victory lane again and get number 52 here this weekend and Billy Ballew here with us. It took me something driving with Billy Ballew’s name on it to win here at Atlanta.”

With early morning fog and mist, qualifying was canceled and the starting lineup was based on the rule book, meaning Austin Hill and Harrison Burton Sat on the front row.

Stages were broken up in 40/40/50 laps to make up the 130-lap advertised distance.

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After a crazy start, it didn’t take long for Busch to take the lead on Lap 6. On Lap 15, the first yellow was brought out from Natalie Decker who spun off of Turn 4. That was the only incident in Stage 1 and after a Lap 19 restart, Kyle Busch easily dominated and won Stage 1.

During the pit stop, one penalty was issued for Brett Moffitt, as he had an uncontrolled tire.

Stage 2 began on Lap 46 and it was four wide off the restart. Busch took the lead after the restart during a battle with Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger. However, during the middle of Stage 2, Busch reported “a loose wheel.” A timely caution came out for Busch, as Joe Nemechek lost his front splitter on Lap 52. Busch was able to fix his loose wheel.

The restart came out on Lap 57 and Ben Rhodes took the lead. Busch restarted in the 24th position and worked his way up to the top five on Lap 65. Busch caught Rhodes and with a stronger truck, passed Rhodes to win Stage 2.

With 43 to go, Stage 3 began and Sauter took the lead. Just 15 laps later, Busch retook the lead from Sauter. Just as it looked lik Busch had set sail to win, a caution came out with 19 to go for Decker, who spun again off Turn 4.

After the pit stops, Matt Crafton had to come back down pit road to fix a loose wheel, while Sheldon Creed and Jordan Anderson were penalized.

This set up a 13-lap dash to the finish, but a wreck broke out on the restart as Jesse Little got loose and a melee happened behind him. Parker Kligerman, Chad Finley, and Austin Wayne Self were all involved.

Then the clouds broke loose. After a light mist most of the day, the mist got heavier and heavier, heavy enough to bring the trucks down pit road and red flag the race. After multiple track drying attempts by NASCAR, the race resumed with nine laps to go.

A five-lap restart was shown, but Kyle Busch was able to hold off Johnny Sauter for record-breaking win No. 52, breaking Ron Hornaday’s record of 51 series wins.

“We obviously bounced around with good people and been able to have good people, have fast trucks over the years driving for Billy (Ballew), driving for me,” Busch told MRN Radio. Just fun and working with a great group of guys like we got here this weekend.”

There were six cautions for 30 laps with 10 lead changes. Busch led 92 of 130 laps.

The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Friday night for race number three of the season.

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