Kyle Busch took on four seconds’ worth of fuel during a splash-and-go on Lap 172 of 200 and got back on track ahead of Ron Hornaday.
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch didn’t have the fastest truck on Saturday, and he had barely enough fuel to make it to the finish line.
Neither circumstance prevented him from winning his third straight start in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series and his fifth race of the season. Busch took the checkered flag in the Heluva Good! 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as points leader and runner-up Ron Hornaday Jr. and his team owner and third-place finisher, Kevin Harvick, battled for position behind him.
Harvick believed Hornaday’s failure to move over in favor of Harvick’s faster truck in the closing laps — which Harvick attributed to lack of communication between crew chiefs and spotters — cost Kevin Harvick Inc. the victory.
Busch took on four seconds’ worth of fuel during a splash-and-go on Lap 172 of 200 and got back on track ahead of Hornaday, whose stop on Lap 170 had lasted almost twice as long. A debris caution on Lap 189 helped Busch conserve enough gas to get to the end of the race. His fuel cell hit “empty” as he approached victory lane.
“They told me we were going to be about five (laps) short (after the final stop),” said Busch, who finished .560 seconds ahead of Hornaday. “I was like, ‘You’re kidding me! We just stopped and filled this thing.’ It barely made it. It ran out coming into victory lane there.”
Matt Crafton finished fourth, followed by series rookie Johnny Sauter. Stacy Compton, Brian Scott, Mike Skinner, Colin Braun and Rick Crawford completed the top 10.
Harvick expressed his displeasure after the race.
“The communication between the spotter and the crew chief wasn’t relayed to the driver very clear,” Harvick said. “I felt like one of the two trucks should have won the race. I felt like we were a little bit better truck, but you can’t put yourself in position to do something underneath him (Hornaday) that would be detrimental to his championship chase.
“It’s just some things internally that we probably need to work on there. Second and third today is still a good day, a good day for (Hornaday) in the championship race, but I feel like we didn’t do what we needed to do.”
Hornaday, who extended his lead in the series standings to 217 points over Crafton, said he wasn’t aware of the problem until after the checkered flag.
“It was a good day — until after the race,” he said. “He (Harvick) got up to me three or four times and I backed off. He ran underneath me. I don’t know if he was getting loose or whatever underneath me. I had older tires. I didn’t have fresher tires. But I’ll take second. …
“I’m going to talk to him right now. I don’t know what I done wrong.”
Note: The victory was Busch’s 14th in 65 truck series starts.