CRAFTSMAN TRUCK American Commercial Lines 200Final
Busch Hornaday wins NCTS race at AtlantaMar 8, 2008 - 5:11 AM By Bruce Martin PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor
HAMPTON, Georgia (Ticker) -- Kyle Busch forced the issue by pitting late in the race for fresh tires, and it was a gamble that paid off as he went on to win Friday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series American Commercial Lines 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The caution flag flew for rain with 10 laps remaining and Busch in the lead. Three laps later, the red flag was displayed and the competitors were pulled down pit road.
A 9-minute, 51-second red flag left four laps to go, with nine trucks on the lead lap.
Busch, who has won two NCTS races in a row, went on to capture the third of his career here, defeating Ron Hornaday's Chevrolet by 1.116 seconds. Mike Skinner's Toyota was third, followed by the Chevrolets of Matt Crafton and Chad McCumbee.
"When I saw Rowdy (Busch) go down pit road, I asked if we had a radar because if not, he just won the race when they restart this thing," Skinner said. "But I'm happy with a third-place finish. We had a fourth- or fifth-place truck. If we had followed him down pit road, we might have had a chance to finish second."
Seven of Busch's eight NCTS wins have come for team owner Billy Ballew.
"How many times have I given up track position and won the race? Two times," Busch said. "I was surprised when nobody followed me. We're trying to get Billy Ballew a major sponsor. The guys on pit road were really good today."
With 20 laps to go, the yellow flag was waved for rain, and Terry Cook got the "Lucky Dog," putting him back on the lead lap. With 17 remaining, Busch, Jack Sprague and Hornaday all pitted for four tires, while McCumbee stayed on the track to assume the lead.
But with fresh rubber on his Chevrolet, Busch was able to easily drive to the lead with 14 laps left.
And despite the interruptions, Busch would not be deterred from his victory, which included a few passes on the apron - an area of the track where drivers normally do not run.
Hornaday, the leader, pitted with 40 laps to go, giving the front spot to Sprague before Busch's team made the strategic race-winning call.
"Busch beat me last time on a green-white-checkered, so what can you do?" Hornaday asked. "Second really (stinks). We had an awesome truck. Man, it was fast on long runs, and when I saw the raindrops coming, I knew we had problems. Man, Kyle is so quick. He set the scenario by coming in, so we had to come in.
"To sit on the pole and do what we did tonight is awesome. Man, this is cool."
Earlier in the race, Johnny Benson's Toyota had a tire explode, sending him into the wall. He pulled the truck off the track but returned later in the race.
Busch won the race at an average speed of 127.556 miles per hour. Despite owning a 72-point lead over Todd Bodine, he is not planning to run the full season.