The win in the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Saturday came down to a battle between the series’ all-time winningest driver and a driver making only his fourth Nationwide start. And it just so happened that both drivers were named Kyle.
Kyle Busch held off Kyle Larson, but just barely, on the final lap to claim his fifth Nationwide Series win at Bristol to match his victory tally at the track in Sprint Cup Series competition and tie him with Kevin Harvick for most Nationwide wins, all-time, at BMS.
“Still trying to figure out how I won it,” Busch said to crew chief Adam Stevens over the radio right after the checkered flag.
Harvick was in Saturday’s race, too. He finished fifth after giving up second in the running order to head down pit road for tires during a caution with 35 laps to go and restarting eighth.
Harvick was running third when the top-two cars of Brad Keselowski and Regan Smith made contact racing for the lead on lap 188 of the 300-lap race. Right after the contact, Harvick took second from Smith. A few laps later, Keselowski hit the wall after blowing a tire — a result of a tire rub from his contact with Smith — and Harvick moved into the lead.
Harvick was passed by Busch for the top spot with 64 laps to go. As Harvick and Busch raced side-by-side for several laps, Larson gained on them for the third spot. Harvick gave up second to Larson when he hit pit road with under 35 laps to go.
“We got a long run there, and I was catching them and I didn’t know what I was going to do when I caught them,” Larson said.
Busch and Larson raced first and second the rest of the way. On the final lap, they encountered lap traffic, and Busch opted to go low to pass the slower lapped cars.
“I just did everything I could to protect the momentum, and I knew the No. 70 (Brad Teague) was going to be slow up top,” Busch said.
Larson was also able to get by the traffic, though, and gained on Busch. Busch beat Larson to the start/finish line and the checkered flag by a fender.
“Wish it was a little easier on my end,” Busch said of the second-closest Bristol Nationwide finish in history.
Brian Vickers finished third and Sam Hornish Jr. was fourth.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR.