Busch Recovers To Win Henry 180 At Road America

#54 Kyle Busch - - M&M Ice Cream (Toyota Supra) winner of 12th annual HENRY "180" Nascar Xfinity Series -Road America on 7/3/21. Kyle does a little celebrating on door of car. [Dave Jensen Photo]

#54 Kyle Busch – – M&M Ice Cream (Toyota Supra) winner of 12th annual HENRY “180” Nascar Xfinity Series -Road America on 7/3/21. Kyle does a little celebrating on door of car. [Dave Jensen Photo]

by Paul Gohde

He wrote off his primary car for Sunday’s Cup race during practice today and almost did the same with his Xfinity ride during the race, but Kyle Busch withstood numerous cautions to edge Daniel Hemric and win the Henry 180 Saturday at Elkhart Lake’s Road America; his 101st Xfinity Series career win.

Starting fifth, Busch hung back in the field early, but even with what was for him a somewhat cautious approach, he spun his M&M’s Ice Cream Toyota off the course on lap 8 that dropped him to 34th place, forcing him to scramble to get back to the leaders. “We worked our way through and didn’t push. But when I spun out there, I thought that might be it.”

There was another spin and dust cloud later that put him back in the pack, but he hung in and managed to stay in the top 10 until later in the race when crashes and spins began to make it somewhat easier to catch up. “It was a blessing for us to be able to pick off others. I had better tires after one of the last pit stops and we were better after some adjustments in the final stage.”

Challengers like pole winner Ty Gibbs, road course veteran AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric each ran up front early, but Cindric fell back late after repairing some damage on his Menards Ford and Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota stalled after turn 3 and needed a push to get back to the pits on lap 34, giving Busch space he needed to work his winning form.

“New tires were the key. We were fast when the green flag waved,” noted road course veteran Allmendinger who won both Stages 1 and 2 and finished fourth, “but at the end of the day we probably weren’t going to win anyway.”

Daniel Hemric started his Toyota fourth and was runner-up to Busch. ‘We were closing the gap there for a while and thought we could get close to Kyle. I gave it all I had. I hate running second.”

Michael Annett was another challenger who raced in the top 10 much of the race and along with Hemric, managed to pass Allmendinger with a few laps remaining. “My car came to life in the second half, and I kept all the fenders on the car; a key to a good finish,” he explained. “The 54 car (Busch) had too much for us.

Harrison Burton was fifth and Cup star Kevin Harvick was sixth, while racing in the Xfinity Series for a different reason. “I hadn’t raced here before and wanted to get some time in and learn the track.”

Busch stretched his late-race lead to 3.52 sec at the checkered flag, leading just the final 5 laps on fresh tires.

“I didn’t come here today expecting to win,” noted the winner. “I (also) came to learn the track. This track is narrow, just three lanes wide. Stock cars here are full body, full contact. It was a blessing for us to pick off the others.”

Notes: Seven cars failed to make the 36-car field. Among those were Jeffery Earnhardt and road racer Boris Said…18-year-old Sam Mayer made the field (23rd) in just his second Xfinity race, but crashed hard on lap 12 and was done for the day…Winner Busch admitted that the next Xfinity race on the NASCAR schedule at Atlanta, might be his final run in that series…Wisconsin driver Natalie Decker also made the field (35th) and soldiered home 32nd after being caught up in a multi-car incident…Father Dale Grubba, the racing writer and photographer gave the invocation prior to the race. Grubba often competes in bicycle races with his hand-cycle and hopes he can still race it when he turns 90.

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