Saturday, March 4, 2017

Xfinity Recap: Kyle Busch Makes it Two-in-a-Row in Atlanta

Blake Koch suffers damage on Lap 2
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs  
by Katy Lindamood

Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway started with a bang and finished with Cup driver domination.

Stage 1:

On Lap 2 of Stage 1 Ty Dillon spun collecting the No. 11 of Blake Koch. Dillon was able to continue while Koch was forced to retire after failing to make repairs within the five-minute time frame allotted. Justin Allgaier was forced to pit road for tire problems that were deemed “excessive wear” by Goodyear, who advised teams to short pit. Unlike last weekend at Daytona when cars ducked into the pits before the end of the stage, only one car pitted early, the No. 48 of Brennan Poole.

Brad Keselowski earned the Stage 1 win, but due to ineligibility, was unable to take advantage of the bonus points a stage win affords.

Stage 2:

Monster Energy Cup Series drivers dominated the field throughout Stage 2 with Kevin Harvick leading the majority of laps. The middle portion of the race was uneventful, aside from the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan taking a shortcut through the corner on the closing laps. Gaughan was able to save the car and complete the stage without further issue. Kevin Harvick, another ineligible driver, earned the stage win.
 
Final Segment:

Denny Hamlin pitted off-sequence on Lap 103 for right front tire issues, which Goodyear said was most likely due to running over something, not excessive wear. The fourth caution of the day occurred on Lap 119 when Hamlin spun. During the caution leaders visited pit road for service, and Harvick retained the top spot. With 37 laps to go, Busch passed Harvick for the lead, then lost it to Kyle Larson. 

The yellow flag came out for the fifth time with 21 to go due to fluid on the track. After pit stops Busch regained the lead and kept it, scoring his second consecutive win at Atlanta. 

William Byron, who finished seventh, was the highest-finishing rookie. Byron said he was unable to speak to his team throughout the entire race, although he was able to hear them. 

Elliott Sadler leads the points standings over William Byron.

Final Running Order: 
  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Kyle Larson
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Elliott Sadler
  6. Darrell Wallace Jr. 
  7. William Byron
  8. Austin Dillon
  9. Daniel Hemric
  10. Cole Custer
  11. Brennan Poole
  12. Matt Tift
  13. Brendan Gaughan
  14. Brandon Jones
  15. Michael Annett
  16. Corey Lajoie
  17. Ty Dillon
  18. Ryan Reed
  19. Aric Almirola
  20. Denny Hamlin
  21. Dakoda Armstrong
  22. Ryan Sieg
  23. Brandon Brown
  24. Harrison Rhodes
  25. Ross Chastain
  26. Jeff Green
  27. Garrett Smithley
  28. Spencer Gallagher
  29. Ray Black Jr.
  30. Justin Allgaier
  31. Joey Gase
  32. David Starr
  33. Timmy Hill
  34. Chris Cockrum
  35. Clint King
  36. JJ Yeley
  37. Jeremy Clements
  38. Stephen Leicht
  39. Jordan Anderson
  40. Blake Koch

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