Kyle Busch Motorsports owner/driver Kyle Busch finished 10th in Saturday’s fred’s 250 Powered by Coca Cola at Talladega Superspeedway in spite of being involved in the last-turn wreck that destroyed his No. 51 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra and many other frontrunners.
Busch had a top-five truck for the majority of the race, but got shuffled back to 14th with just seven laps to go while trying to move into the lead. A late-race accident set up a three-lap run to the checkered flag, and Busch, back in 10th on the restart, hooked up with eighth-place Dakota Armstrong for a run to the front. By the time the white flag flew, the tandem was one of three duos battling for the win at the 2.66-mile track, where anything can happen – and did.
A fourth group of cars approached the top six in the final turns, with Jeb Burton leading the pack and eventually wrecking, as he was turned into Busch, causing the final-lap “big one” that Talladega is known for.
In spite of being behind the wheel of a wrecked Tundra, Busch kept his foot on the gas pedal and crossed the finish line 10th, but the ride wasn’t over – Busch went on to hit the pit road, wall then crossed the track and hit the outside wall. Busch climbed from his truck under his own power, but slumped against the wall in an effort to catch his breath – as he later explained, “There was no sense in sitting in a hot vehicle. You might as well get out and get some fresh air.”
"That's what you expect in these races," said Busch on the KBM website. "It certainly was calm, cool and collected there with just the three tandems of us up front and it was probably going to finish with somebody making it to the start-finish line first - wasn't sure who. Then I don't know what happened there with the guys inside of me. Somehow they got turned into me or hit me and then I got turned left and caused the melee, but once you see the checkered flag, you just keep your foot in it and keep trying to drive through it. Our truck was killed. It didn't have any steering, but I was still driving and obviously hit the end of pit wall which wasn't very smart, but when you're racing for points and trying to get all you can, you keep going until you see nothing."
Darrell Wallace Jr., in the No. 54 Camping World/Good Sam Tundra and making his first start at Talladega, had a top-five run going before he was collected in the final lap, relegating him to a 17th-place finish. “Hardest hit of my career and scared the hell out of me,” said Wallace Jr. “Man, it makes you want to go 10 miles under the speed limit in your regular car because pushing 200 or whatever we’re doing and wrecking it hard - I’d die. That’s scary. I’m freaking myself out again. I just couldn’t breathe. I’m all good, not sore anywhere, pride is hurt, but as long as my Vols (Tennessee Volunteers) won and beat South Carolina, I’m all good.”
Joey Coulter, in the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra, found his way into a “big one” earlier in the race on Lap 81of 94, getting caught up with Ron Hornaday Jr., Justin Lofton and James Buescher. Earlier in the race, Coulter was able to hook up with KBM Nationwide Series driver Parker Kligerman, who won the race last year, and the duo went to the front. Kligerman, in the No. 20 Tundra for BRG Motorsports (using a KBM chassis), finished fourth in the race, while Coulter’s early exit left him 27th.
"We had a really good Tundra, it's just the way this place works unfortunately," said Coulter. “You're up front at some point, in the back at some point and everywhere in between. We got up to the front there with some help from Parker and led a lap, kind of ran up front some, got shuffled around and then started having radio trouble at the end. When the 31 (James Buescher) got turned around I didn't have anywhere to go and couldn't really hear where my spotter was telling me to go. Overall, we had a really good truck, good day, just superspeedway racing. It's kind of wrong place at the wrong time most of the time."
“First of all thanks for the opportunity by the Bragg Racing Group and George Bragg for giving me this chance to come out here and defend my victory from last year and I thought we had a good chance there,” said Kligerman. “When you’re that bottom tandem coming with three or two (laps) to go and you’ve already run a lap or two, you get so hot that the outside two tandems and the tandem behind you has the biggest run. I was trying to back (Ross) Chastain and I saw the 4 (Jeb Burton) coming, so I knew we couldn’t so I just went for it and tried to push the 19 into the tri-oval. We just hit the apron weird and it kind of knocked me up a little bit and we disconnected and he freaked out or whatever — he just went up and I was outside of him it just knocked me into the 51. Unfortunate, still think I got a top-five. The cool thing is the Bragg’s are a Late Model group out of Alabama and we had four or five guys on our crew this weekend. We went out and finished fourth against all these other top teams. It was a fun day.”
Johnny Sauter escaped the carnage and won the race, followed by David Starr and Ross Chastain. Armstrong finished fifth behind Kligerman.
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