HAMPTON, Ga. – Kyle Busch and his team guessed right on tires and weather Friday night to beat Ron Hornaday Jr. and win the American Commercial Lines 200 race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Busch was running second behind Hornaday when rain began falling lightly on Lap 110. Busch came to pit road as soon as it was open to get fresh tires, a decision that then forced Hornaday and other contenders to come in for tires on the next lap.
The rain left and Busch restarted third behind two trucks that stayed out during the shower. It took Busch less than a lap to get back to the lead, with Hornaday moving to second before another shower forced a 10-minute delay.
The rain left again and the race resumed with four laps remaining. Hornaday tried to get a jump when the green flew, but Busch wasn’t about to give back the lead.
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It was a second straight Truck Series victory for Busch, who won at California after finishing second in the season opener at Daytona.
Hornaday started from the pole and took command of the race after passing Busch for the lead on Lap 59. He was five seconds ahead of Busch after a round of green-flag pit stops, and while Busch was beginning to close in the first shower came before he could get there.
That’s when the decision to come down pit road turned things around.
“It wasn’t that tough of a call when you have Kyle Busch,” said Ritchie Waters, Busch’s crew chief, of the call to bring his driver to pit road. “Our truck was good on old tires. The only way we were going to win this thing was to come get tires.”
Busch said he thought it was a fairly easy call, too.
“I was kind of surprised when nobody followed me,” he said.
Hornaday said that as the leader, he was in a tough spot.
“Second stinks,” he said. “As the leader, you’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t. But even if we had come in and put all four tires on, he was faster in the first 10 laps that we were.”
Hornaday praised Busch’s driving ability, which the eventual winner displayed by passing trucks high and low as he moved back through the field after falling behind early when his team had to make major adjustments on his Toyota.
“How he drives that thing so far out of control is unbelievable,” Hornaday said.
Mike Skinner finished third.
“I saw Kyle come down pit road and I said, ‘Do we have a radar?’ ” Skinner said. “‘Because he just won the race with that move."