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posted May 21, 2017
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Kyle Busch Gets All-Star Win
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KYLE BUSCH GETS ALL-STAR WIN
By Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter
CHARLOTTE, N.C.--When the final 10-lap shootout began in Saturday's All-Star race, Kyle Busch was lined up third behind Brad Keselowski and seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
   Busch wasn't intimidated by the two big guns.
   When the green flag dropped, Busch shot under Keselowski for the lead, and never let off the gas until after the checkered flag had been given.
   It might have been a non-points race, but it was the first-ever Cup victory for Busch at Charlotte.
   “We finally achieved a win here,” Busch said. “It's great, but so is that million dollars. We had a great car and I knew that I could rely on my guys to give me what I needed in that last stage.”
   Busch did not win either of the three earlier stages of the 70-lap event, but he was ready when the showdown came for the last 10-laps. All the cars, except Keselowski had pitted for fresh tires after the end of the 20-lap Segment 3, which was won by Jimmie Johnson.
   Keselowski, on old tires, was lined up on the inside of the front row, with Johnson on his outside, for the 10-lap restart. Busch was riding on four fresh tires behind Keselowski. When the green flag was dropped, Busch pulled down on the inside of the apron, zipped past Keselowski, and waved bye-bye to Johnson and the rest of the field.
   Kyle Larson was able to get by Johnson for the runner-up position.
   “It's kind of disappointing to have the fastest car and have to settle for second,” said Larson. “We had the fastest car, but sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. It was one of those nights for us.”
   Jimmie Johnson just didn't have what he needed at the end.
   “I don't know what happened,” said Johnson. “It's hard to understand that last restart. I just got a late start. I had a shot near the end, but couldn't get it done.”
   There were only nine cars that ran the last 10 laps. Kurt Busch was fourth, followed by Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.
   The race was run in four segments; three 20-lap races, and one 10-lap shootout.
   Kyle Larson was the winner of Segments One and Two.
   The earlier Open Race for non-winners and other non-qualified drivers had three segments. Clint Bowyer was Segment One winner, while Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez won the second and third segments. Their wins allowed them to transfer into the All-Star race. Chase Elliott was voted into the All-Star race as the Fan Favorite.
“ROWDY KYLE” DOMINATES TRUCK RACE
   “Rowdy” Kyle Busch pretty much dominated Friday's Charlotte truck race. He led 90 of 134 laps in sweeping both stages of the race and taking the checkered flag .986 seconds ahead of runner-up Johnny Sauter.
   The win was Busch's seventh in 11 starts at the 1.5-mile track, his second of the season in three starts and the 48th of his career. No other driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history has won more races at a single track.
   “It was fun,” said Busch, who collected his 173rd NASCAR national touring series win. “We had a really fast truck tonight. It was a challenge there in the middle part of the race. It was confusing for a while, but we got through it.
   “There near the end of the second stage, we shot through the middle. I thought the middle was going to close up and I was going to have to push Sauter, but Crafton left me a lane and I was able to blow through.”
   Johnny Sauter, who extended his series lead to 15 points over Christopher Bell, got the better of the young Toyota driver on the last restart and rolled home second.
   Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell ran third, overcoming early trouble to stay within striking distance of Sauter, the series leader. Bell started from the pole but cut a left rear tire three laps into the race and went a lap down.
   Regaining the lead lap as the "lucky dog" for a restart on Lap 65, Bell worked his way to the front. He was running second when a caution for Matt Mills' spin on Lap 128 brought out the ninth and final caution and set up a three-lap run to the finish.
   “I struggled on restarts, man,” Bell said afterwards. “I'm pretty bummed that I ran third with a second-place truck.”
   Ryan Truex was fourth, while Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Noah Gragson, and Parker Kligerman were the remaining top-10 finishers.
   Top-10 leaders after 5 of 23: 1. Sauter-242, 2. Bell-227, 3. Crafton-191, 4. Briscoe-171, 5. Rhodes-170, 6. Peters-170, 7. Enfinger-147, 8. Grala-138, 9. Ryan Truex-139, 10. Moffitt-126.
   Meanwhile, Kyle Busch, who already has an Xfinity Series championship and a Cup Series title to his name, said he might be willing to stay in the sport an extra season in an attempt to become NASCAR's first driver to win a championship in all three of the national touring series.
   The only title Busch lacks is in the Camping World Truck Series. He is now three Truck Series wins shy of tying the all-time leading mark of 51 wins held by Ron Hornaday.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Xfinity cars are at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway. At 600 miles (400-laps), it will be the longest race of the season for the Cup teams.
   NASCAR announced Monday that this year's Coca-Cola 600 will be run with one additional stage.
The annual 600-mile race will feature four stages. Breaks are scheduled at Lap 100, Lap 200 and Lap 300, with the final stage set to end at the full 400-lap distance. The previous format for this year's 600, announced in February along with stage lengths for all other 2017 national series events, called for intermissions at Lap 115 and 230.
   Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said the decision was the result of a collaborative effort to offer more breaks in an endurance event that typically spans more than four hours as it progresses from early evening to nightfall.
Sat., May 27, Xfinity Series race 10 of 33; Starting time: 1 pm ET; TV: FoxSports1.
Sun., May 28, Cup Series Coca-Cola 600; Starting time: 6 pm ET; TV: Fox.
   In addition, the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 28. The race will be broadcast on ABC, beginning at 11 am ET. The 500-mile race gets underway at 12:15 pm.
   Two drivers to watch are Alexander Rossi and Will Power.
   One year after shocking the world by winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500, Alexander Rossi is back and looking to position himself for another run at glory.
   Rossi has had an up-and-down season thus far as he sits ninth in the standings, but with top-10 results in two of his past three races, he may be picking up steam at the perfect time.
   Will Power is rounding into form as the Indy 500 approaches, and it is difficult to argue against the notion that he is the driver to beat in terms of qualifying.
   Power has already won three of the five poles during the 2017 IndyCar season—he is coming off a win in the Indianapolis Grand Prix, and his performances in practice have been impressive.
   Racing Trivia Question: Who was the winner of the first Charlotte race?
   Last Week's Question: When was the first NASCAR race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Answer. First race was held in 1960.
   You may contact the Racing Reporter by e-mail at: hodges@race500.com.