Running without second and third gears for a restart with eight laps left in Saturday's American Commercial Lines 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch nevertheless found enough muscle in his #51 Toyota to win the race.
After dropping back on the restart, Busch needed fewer than four circuits to catch and pass Todd Bodine for the lead on lap 126 of 130. Kevin Harvick recovered from a slow final pit stop to take second from Bodine in the closing laps and dogged Busch to the finish, crossing the stripe 0.122 seconds behind the winner.
Driving for team owner Billy Ballew, Busch scored his second NACAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the season and the eleventh of his career to retain his series points lead by 25 over Bodine, who held on to third place in Saturday's race.
Mike Skinner ran fourth and Terry Cook fifth. Chad McCumbee, Ron Hornaday Jr., Mike Bliss, Johnny Benson and Brian Scott completed the top ten.
With third gear already non-functional, Busch lost second gear on the lap 123 restart.
“Second's broke, too - we're done,” he radioed to crew chief Doug George as his Tundra fell back.
But Busch shifted immediately to fourth gear and felt it start to pull. Soon under full power, he rocketed toward the front and overtook Bodine, whose truck was too loose to put up a fight.
“I had to go all the way to fourth and limp around there,” Busch said. “It felt like an eternity to get this thing up to speed.”
Busch, who had been saving fuel, took the lead by staying on the track on lap 117, when Harvick and other contenders pitted for fuel. A slow pit stop cost Harvick dearly. He had been leading the race when NASCAR called a caution for debris in turn two on lap 114; on lap 119, he restarted tenth.
The fifth and final caution of the race came right after that restart, when Colin Braun's #6 Ford nosed hard into the inside backstretch wall, the result of a chain reaction collision that also involved Skinner and Scott.
In the final eight laps, Harvick didn't have time to catch and pass Busch for the win.
“The thing was fast,” Harvick said, “but it doesn't matter if you can't do a pit stop.”
The victory was Busch's fourth in five struck series starts at Atlanta.
Though he's second in the standings, Bodine revealed after the race that he would not race in the series' next event (March 28 at Martinsville) unless his Germain Racing team finds a sponsor. Germain signed the growing restaurant chain, Tilted Kilt, to a one-race deal for Atlanta and hopes to extend that sponsorship to Martinsville.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News