Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch took part in the Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, May 22. This start gave him the opportunity to log some laps before taking on the track in the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Cup Series race. Busch did not win either of the first two stages, but he dominated en route to his 98th-career NASCAR Xfinity win.
The veteran driver captured the pole after dominating the morning’s qualifying sessions, and he immediately put distance between himself and the other Xfinity Series drivers. Ross Chastain, who qualified second, headed to the garage early and opened up an opportunity for AJ Allmendinger. The Kaulig Racing driver ultimately won Stage 1 after Busch opted to head to pit road early for tires and fuel.
Busch continued to dominate the race, taking the lead again in Stage 2. However, he headed to pit road early again in a strategic move, opening the door for Justin Haley to win the stage. Once the final stage began, Busch jumped to the lead once again and built up a three-second lead over Allmendinger.
Busch’s Experience at COTA Helped Him Outpace Other Drivers
Back in April, Busch and some fellow Toyota Racing drivers headed to Circuit of the Americas for some test laps. The two-time Cup Series champion proceeded to log time on the unique road course while driving both a Toyota Supra pace car and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.
While the track featured some slight changes during the Pit Boss 250, Busch’s experience still helped him turn in the best performance of the day. He posted the fastest lap time, 2:18.54, while driving under the sunny skies. Allmendinger, a veteran with several road course victories to his name, posted a lap time of 2:19.00.
With his 98th Xfinity Series win under his belt, Busch will now look forward to the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix. The race will take place at 2:30 p.m. ET, but Busch will first have to qualify for a top spot during the morning sessions. If he can perform well once again, the JGR star will have the opportunity to win his 59th career Cup Series race.
2021 Continues To Serve as a ‘Bounce-Back Season’ for Busch
Busch’s performance on Sunday continued what has been a positive season overall for the veteran driver. He struggled mightily during 2020, only winning one Cup Series race late in the season after failing to move on in the playoffs.
Busch dealt with numerous issues during the 2020 season, including six DNF’s, five caused by crashes. Each time he struggled or ended a race early, Busch told reporters that “it is still 2020.” The season took a toll on the two-time Cup Series champion, but he is now off to a much better start.
Busch has only registered one DNF in 2021, a crash during the season-opening Daytona 500. He has performed well in the majority of the remaining races, posting four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He also kept his streak of 17 consecutive winning seasons alive by taking the checkered flag at Kansas. He is only one winning season behind “The King” Richard Petty, who holds the all-time top spot.