Kyle Busch dominated the Help a Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Friday night when he started on the pole and led most of the 147-lap race on his way to his fifth series win of the season in only eight races. The victory was also Joe Gibbs Racing’s seventh victory in the last eight Nationwide races at the track.
JGR dominated overall, with its four entries claiming the top-four starting spots and and then taking top-three spots in the finishing order and four out of the top-five, with Elliott Sadler finishing second, Matt Kenseth third and Brian Vickers fifth.
The lone non-JGR driver to finish in the top-five just happened to be a former Joe Gibbs Racing driver — fourth-place finisher Joey Logano. Although he didn’t win, Logano was happy to just happy to finish in the top-five.
“It was a hard-fought top-five; that’s for sure,” Logano said. “I felt like we were a seventh-place car.”
Although dominant team, multiple JGR teams were presented with obstacles throughout the race. Sadler spun while running second to bring out a caution on lap 49, and during that caution, Busch lost several spots on pit road when his jackman fell down while servicing the car. Later on, Vickers had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a tire issue.
“We got back on a pit stop and had to work our way back up to the front,” Busch said.
Busch led the way until the lap 49 caution. Kasey Kahne got off pit road first during that yellow flag by taking only two tires to restart with the lead. Meanwhile, Busch restarted sixth. Within one green flag lap, Kenseth was by Kahne and in the lead.
Kenseth pulled away from most of the field, as Busch quickly raced back toward the front. It didn’t take long for Busch to get by most of the cars in front of him, but it did take him sevral laps to retake the lead from his teammate. Busch finally got back up front on lap 83.
The field cycled through green-flag pit stops around lap 108, 17 laps after the unscheduled stop for Vickers on lap 91. The fourth and final caution of the race came out on lap 119, allowing Vickers to get back on the same pit sequence as everyone else.
Busch again lost spots on pit road, this time because of pit strategy. Busch took four tires, while Logano and Austin Dillon stayed out to restart on the front row. Sadler took two tires to restart third, and Busch led those who took four to restart fourth.
“We had four tires,” Busch said. “You just can’t do that (stay out or take two) with that many laps and expect to hold off anybody.”
Busch quickly moved into second on the restart, while Sadler got by Logano and Dillon for the lead. With 17 laps to go, he got by Sadler to take the top spot.
“Great pit stops,” Sadler said. “Great call to get two tires there at the end.”
Sadler blamed himself, though, for losing the lead to Busch in the final laps.
“Just driving over my head,” he said.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Kyle Larson, Regan Smith, Sam Hornish Jr., Kahne, and Justin Allgaier. With his seventh-place finish, Smith retained the Nationwide Series championship points lead.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR