SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Although Kyle Busch is the winningest driver in NASCAR Truck Series history, he was down to his final chance to extend his decade-long streak of annual victories on the circuit.
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Busch ended up raising a celebratory glass in wine country.
Busch emphatically hung on to his lead after a late restart to claim his first Truck Series victory of the season Saturday night in the circuit’s long-awaited return to Sonoma Raceway.
Busch roared away from teammate Chandler Smith, aggressive Zane Smith and the rest of the field to win a two-lap dash to the finish after a red flag. The Cup Series veteran led 45 of the 75 laps and persevered through three late cautions to add his 62nd victory to the biggest total in Truck Series history.
Busch has won a trucks race every season since 2012, and he finally secured his only victory of 2022 in his last opportunity after four previous winless starts. Cup Series drivers are limited to five trucks races per season.
“Feels good to get that win,” Busch said. “Trucks haven’t been here in a long, long time, so I wanted to do it just for the history and the nostalgia of the Truck Series in California, it being born in Bakersfield and just always racing here (at Sonoma). … I love that aspect of it.”
Busch was the predictable star of the race at Sonoma, which hadn’t hosted a trucks race in 24 years. The rolling road course in Northern California previously hosted the circuit from 1995-98, and Busch added this win to his two Cup Series victories on the same track.
The victory was also the second straight for the No. 51 Toyota: Corey Heim won in the same truck at Gateway last week. Busch is the ninth winner in 12 Truck Series races during this competitive season.
Smith held off Ty Majeski for second place, while Cup Series driver Ross Chastain was fourth. Chandler Smith came in fifth.
“Man, I hate finishing second, especially to him,” Zane Smith said. “That last lap was the fastest lap of the race for me. I just wish I was a little closer so I would have had a shot at him.”
Busch rolled back into the lead with 11 laps to go, and he stayed out in front even after Josh Bilicki hit the wall in Turn 1 hard enough to move the barrier with four laps left, forcing a red flag while crews reset it. Stewart Friesen’s truck also caught on fire during the multi-truck incident, which started when Bilicki and Friesen made contact on the front stretch.
In classic Rowdy fashion, Busch reflected on his decade-long streak of trucks victories by lamenting the fact that the streak isn’t longer.
“I look back on the missed year of 2012, where I didn’t get a win,” Busch said. “I think we finished second like six times that year or something stupid. That was frustrating. That’s more bitter than this one (potentially) not winning, but it’s good to be able to score a win.”
The winners of Sonoma’s previous four Trucks races from the 1990s — Ron Hornaday Jr., Dave Rezendes, Joe Ruttman and Boris Said — all attended the race to mark the circuit’s return.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.