CLICK: Full race results from Richmond and full Nationwide Series championship standings.
Kyle Busch took his fourth Nationwide Series win of 2014 and his 67th victory in 289 starts with a spectacular flag-to-flag run at the front in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on Friday night under the floodlights.
"It's been a while, if you think about it," said Busch, who has been having a run of poor results in recent weeks in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup races. "We've had a lot of bad luck lately, and it feels good, trying to get some mojo back, get ready for [the Cup race] tomorrow night, see what we can salvage there and roll on into the Chase."
It's the second time that Busch has managed to lead every single lap of a Nationwide Series race, the first time being when he led all 200 laps at Phoenix International Raceway in February 2011. No other driver has achieved this feat in the meantime.
Busch had claimed his sixth pole of the season after qualifying had been reduced to just a single round because of delays caused by rain showers. He had ended up with a best time of 22.332s (120.903mph) on the three-quarter mile short oval which had put him 0.075s clear of Ryan Blaney who joined him on the front row for the green flag.
Busch's race tactics were clear from the get-go, and supremely effective as he put his dominant pace advantage to best use by immediately pulling away to safety at the front at the start and for every restart thereafter. With flawless work on display from the Joe Gibbs Racing crew, his rivals didn't even have the chance to jump him during pit stops.
There were six cautions during the evening, the first coming as early as lap 2 when Jamie Dick and Kevin Lapage made contact and spun in turn 2. After that the race ran green to lap 73 when Chad Boat had a tyre go down in turn 3 to bring out the second yellow and trigger the first round of pit stops of the night with Busch retaining the lead ahead of Blaney, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler.
Oil on track from the smoking car of Justin Reaume caused a brief interruption on lap 84 which bunched the field up for the restart and helped precipitate another accident on lap 92 when Jeffrey Earnhardt and Jeff Green got into each other. A debris caution on lap 166 was nicely timed to allow the drivers to carry out their second round of pit stops, Busch predictably emerging in front with Sadler up to second ahead of Harvick, Blaney, Kenseth and Elliott. Harvick - who won the last Nationwide race at Richmond earlier this year with a dominant display of his own - was soon around Sadler and up to second spot, but Busch was quickly able to pull away to safety once again.
"Kyle had a much better car and was able to take off on the short runs and get way out there," admitted Harvick after the race. "We were off all weekend for whatever reason and I just never really could get the grasp on it, we had a good long run car but that was about it."
The field was given one more chance to strike at Busch when a final caution came out on lap 226 after Landon Cassill got into trouble in turn 2 and dropped debris on the track, giving the field the opportunity to take one last round of pit stops under yellow with 30 laps remaining. Busch was once again in charge for the restart ahead of Harvick, Elliott, Sadler and Brian Scott, with Elliott getting a great restart to move around his JR Motorsport team mate Harvick for second spot whit Sadler struggled and fell back allowing Ryan Blaney to return to the top five and quickly around Scott for fourth place. Also having a strong run to the finish was Richard Petty Motorsport's Dakoda Armstrong who got around Sadler to pick up seventh position behind Regan Smith.
"All in all, the guys did a great job," Busch said, praising his JGR crew. "They were really smart about what they needed, what we needed, what I needed." However there was one cloud on the horizon for the team after it was confirmed that NASCAR had confiscated the rear gear from the race-winning #54 for further analysis back at the R&D centre, which may result in post-race penalties after the weekend.
In the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, second place this weekend mean that Chase Elliott extends his lead to 19 points over Regan Smith with Ty Dillon a further 23 points back in third ahead of Elliott Sadler, Brian Scott and Trevor Bayne.
"I thought we had a really good NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet," said Elliott of his race at Richmond. "We made gains really throughout the night and we were getting closer and closer. I think we were actually better than where we were in the spring when we were able to outrun Kevin."
The next outing for the Nationwide drivers is at Chicagoland Speedway next weekend on Saturday September 13, for the Jimmy John's Freaky Fast 300 Powered by Coca-Cola.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings.