Kyle Busch found a way to stay out front with a car set up for short runs and pulled away during the final green-flag run to win Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway.
Busch got the opportunity for his career-best 51st Nationwide Series victory and his eighth of the season in 19 starts when Carl Edwards, who had dominated the race, lost three spots during the final round of pit stops under caution.
Edwards ran second, .696 seconds behind Busch. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. retained the series points lead with a third-place finish. Ryan Truex came home fourth, followed by Kenny Wallace.
Elliott Sadler, Aric Almirola, Reed Sorenson, Justin Allgaier and Joe Nemechek completed the top 10.
“Carl was certainly really, really god there, and I thought at first we were probably a third- or fourth-place car, and then kind of worked on it and made it a second- or third-place car,” Busch said. “We were keeping up with Carl, and then, on that final pit stop, my guys really put the pressure on, knowing how quick they’d been on pit road all night—and they did it once again.
“We were able to get off first, and I think Carl came off fourth, so when we had the restart there, he got mired up in traffic there, and that gave us some room to get out … (Crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and these guys made some awesome adjustments all night, making the car a little bit better—just be able to make it a little more drivable. Every run we got closer, and then, there on that last run, we had track position and a good car.”
The race followed a consistent pattern: a caution, followed by a restart with Busch in the lead, followed by a pass by Edwards for the top spot a few laps later. As long as the race stayed green, Edwards was in control.
Edwards led Busch by a half-second when an ongoing fracas between Kevin Harvick and Trevor Bayne erupted into a full-blown wreck in Turn 3. Frustrated by Harvick’s efforts to block him—and by contact that wrinkled the hood of Bayne’s Ford—Bayne rubbed Harvick into the wall on Lap 210.
Harvick retaliated immediately, turning Bayne nose-first into the SAFER barrier in Turn 3. The incident caused the sixth caution of the race, and during pit stops under yellow, Busch regained the lead and Edwards lost three positions in the pits because of problems with the right front tire.
“It was going to be a battle if Kyle and I started side by side,” said Edwards, who led 160 of 250 laps. “I thought it was going to be tough enough that way, but we had a tire get stuck on the fender, I guess, on the right front.
“The guys did a really good job, only losing three spots with that. I just couldn’t get to him, and by the time I was in second, I had worked my tires over pretty badly, and I needed a caution to start next to him again. But Kyle and those guys definitely earned it—we didn’t give it to ‘em with that pit stop. I think they were going to be tough either way.”
The field restarted on Lap 221, with Busch out front, followed by Stenhouse, Truex and Edwards. After that final restart, Busch began to pull away.
Notes: Stenhouse leads second Sadler by 16 points in the series standings. … Stenhouse also won the $100,000 Nationwide Dash4Cash bonus. Stenhouse, Truex, Wallace and Sadler earned eligibility for the Dash4Cash bonus in the Oct. 14 race at Charlotte.