When you see Kyle Busch's name on the entry list for a NASCAR support race, you know that someone is going to have to really excel if they're going to stop him from making it to victory lane at the end of the forthcoming race. And in this week's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, no one stepped up to the plate and instead it was a relatively easy affair for the 29-year-old - although at least one person seemed genuinely surprised by the outcome.
"Kansas? I'm a winner at Kansas?" said Busch taking his 37th victory in 117 Truck Series race starts, but his first time at Kansas. In fact it's only the second time in his NASCAR career that he's ever found victory lane here in any of the three national-level championships - the only previous occasion was in a 2007 Nationwide Series race.
"Certainly a better night for us and having a fast truck and being up front helped," said Busch, who was taken out in an accident in this event last year. "It was really good once we unloaded and we just made some slight changes to it, playing around with some things trying to make it better in practice."
The Sprint Cup regular went on to start at the front (his 13th Truck Series pole) after pipping Ryan Blaney to the top spot by eight thousandths of a second in qualifying. He then led for 104 of the 167 laps of the SFP 250 under the floodlights at Kansas on Friday evening.
The race immediately hit problems with two early cautions, the first coming on lap one when Ron Hornaday Jr. spun out in turn 4and collected Timothy Peters, German Quiroga and Spencer Gallagher, and the second on lap eight shortly after the restart when Todd Shafer and Brian Ickler spun out, the latter hitting the wall in turn 2. Shafer was able to resume but was then the cause of the third caution on lap 34 when he spun out for a second time at the same spot.
Busch had certainly not gone unchallenged at the front during this stop-start period and Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano had both successfully taken the lead albeit briefly. Similarly, two quick consecutive cautions on laps 50 (for Jimmy Weller III hitting the wall on the backstretch) and 56 (for John Wes Tonwley doing much the same, and then collecting Ben Kennedy and Ron Hornaday on the rebound) briefly allowed Blaney to take the lead at the restart before Busch reasserted control.
Two rapid accidents for Brennan Newberry on laps 69 and 77 allowed Joey Logano to get his nose in front of Busch and take the lead for 37 laps, the longest spell Busch spent away from the front all night. The other major contender for the race win up to this point, Ryan Blaney, exited the proceedings during this spell when he spun out on lap 85 and took Johnny Sauter and Tyler Young with him.
Busch finally returned to the front on lap 112, but his efforts to build up a comfortable margin at the front were thwarted by the ninth and final caution on lap 126 when Brian Silas spun out in turn 2. Busch lost the race off pit lane to Austin Dillon with Tayler Malsam, Matt Crafton, German Quiroga Jr and Joey Coulter massing behind him for what proved to be the final restart on lap 133, allowing an uninterrupted 35-lap run to the finish; Logano had been caught out by having pitted under green just before the caution came out which left him playing catch-up for the rest of the race. Busch didn't get his lead back from Dillon until lap 146, but once he did - and with no more interruptions - he was able to build up a 3.020s lead over Crafton by the chequered flag, with Logano and Dillon finishing ahead of Maslam and Jeb Burton to round out the top six.
In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, Crafton's second place this week is enough to push him up two places to lead championship by eight points from Timothy Peters and Ron Hornaday after three of the 22 races of the 2014 season. "I feel very confident in what we have for the rest of the season," Crafton said later, sounding confident of his chances of defending his Truck Series title.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings are available.