In a race where the typical Bristol gremlins came out early and often, Kyle Busch managed to get his out of the way before the green flag waved.
The result was a commanding victory for Busch in Wednesday night’s O’Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
After winning the pole but being forced to start at the rear because of prerace engine repairs under impound rules, Busch moved forward in a hurry. He took the lead when Mike Skinner pitted for the first time on Lap 91 of 206 and survived a green-white-checkered finish for his third triumph of the season in his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
Busch, whose only pit stop came around Lap 30, overcame a late fuel scare to win his third straight race at Bristol.
“I wasn’t 100 percent aggressive on saving fuel, but I was 92 percent,” said Busch, who led the final 116 laps. “There was concerns all around.”
Aric Almirola finished second, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr., who rallied from a spin and a lost lap. Skinner and rookie Justin Lofton completed the top five. Points leader Todd Bodine finished sixth, and his lead over Almirola took a small hit from 231 to 211 points.
The race was slowed by a record-setting 13 cautions, including eight in the first 85 laps.
That last of the accidents was the most vicious, occurring when Ken Schrader slammed hard into the right side of the spinning truck of David Starr. It brought out a red flag and forced the race to go six laps past its scheduled distance. Both drivers walked away uninjured.
“It was a pretty hard hit,” Starr said.
A more consequential incident involved Sprint Cup regular Elliott Sadler and Timothy Peters. Battling for second in the closing laps, Sadler hooked the right rear of Peters’ truck on the backstretch, sending the No. 17 Toyota into the wall and to pit road for repairs. Peters, who is third in the standings, recovered to finish eighth.
Sadler moved into second momentarily but hit the wall several laps later when the right-front tire on his Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet let go on Lap 185. He finished 26th.
Rookie Austin Dillon also had a rough night, and his streak of eight straight top 10s came to an end. Dillon was involved in two accidents—one with Donny Lia on Lap 20 and another with Clay Greenfield on Lap 44—that knocked his No. 3 truck out of contention. Dillon finished 17th.