Memorable moments: A look at Kyle Busch’s 200 career NASCAR victories

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FONTANA, Calif. Kyle Busch overcame a pit road speeding penalty to score his 200th career NASCAR victory at Auto Club Speedway, where Busch has had a rich history.

Busch scored his first career Cup victory Sept. 4, 2005 at Auto Club Speedway. He was the winner in a memorable finish at this track in 2013 — victory No. 130 in his NASCAR career.  Running third, Busch swept past the dueling cars of Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin as they made contact, sending Hamlin into the wall.

Sunday, he earned his 200th career NASCAR victory. Here is a look at some of those memorable wins and the list of all his victories:

Kyle Busch celebrates victory in the Funai 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Richmond International Raceway May 14, 2004. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Victory No. 1 — May 14, 2004: Richmond Raceway — Busch Series: The 19-year-old started on the pole and led 236 of 250 laps to score the victory. “That was awesome,” Busch said in victory lane. Busch had to hold off Greg Biffle for the win. Said Biffle: “I could have gotten to his bumper at the end of the race. I figured I’d let him go. I didn’t want to race like that. He ran a good race.”

Victory No. 9 — Sept. 9, 2005: California Speedway — Nextel Cup Series: The 20-year-old became the youngest Cup winner at the time when he took the checkered flag at what is now called Auto Club Speedway. Busch announced in victory lane that he was donating his race winnings to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund. More than 1,800 people were killed in the storm, which flooded New Orleans.

Victory No. 24 — March 9, 2008: Atlanta Motor Speedway — Nextel Cup Series: Busch scored his first Cup victory for Joe Gibbs Racing and also gave Toyota its first victory in NASCAR’s top series. 

Victories No. 76, 77, 78 — Aug. 18, 20-21, 2010: Bristol Motor Speedway — Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide, Sprint Cup Series: He swept all three races, becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win in each of its top three series on the same weekend. It was during driver introductions for the Cup race that Brad Keselowski said into the microphone that “Kyle Busch is an ass.” Keselowski was upset about contact between the two of them the night before in the Nationwide race. He would repeat this feat in 2017 with victories No. 178-180.

Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Victory No. 143 — June 28, 2015: Sonoma Raceway — Sprint Cup Series: Scored his first Cup win in his fifth series start that season. He missed the first 11 points races after breaking his right left and left foot in a crash in the Xfinity Series season opener in February at Daytona.

Victory No. 154 — Nov. 22, 2015: Homestead-Miami Speedway — Sprint Cup Series: He wins the season-ending race to cap his comeback from missing the first 11 points races and captures his first Cup championship.

Victory No. 188 — May 27, 2018: Charlotte Motor Speedway — Monster Energy Cup Series: He scored his first points-paying Cup victory at this track. The win gave him at least one win at all 23 facilities that host Cup races. He led 377 of 400 laps. Said Busch: “It’s just something cool tonight to be able to accomplish something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid. I remember being eight, nine, 10 years old and wanting to win races at Charlotte, wanting to win the Coke 600, wanting to win the All-Star Race and just remembering watching those races under the lights here and dreaming of one day going to Victory Lane, and now finally it’s here.”

Victory No. 200 — March 17, 2019: Auto Club Speedway — Busch had the dominant car but a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 123 dropped him to 18th and created some question of it he could get back into the lead. He took the lead for good on Lap 175.

Series

Track

Driver

Date

1

Xfinity

Richmond

Kyle Busch

5/14/2004

2

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/29/2004

3

Xfinity

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

6/19/2004

4

Xfinity

LOR

Kyle Busch

8/7/2004

5

Xfinity

Michigan

Kyle Busch

8/21/2004

6

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/20/2005

7

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/28/2005

8

Truck

Dover

Kyle Busch

6/4/2005

9

Cup

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

9/4/2005

10

Truck

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

10/29/2005

11

Cup

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/13/2005

12

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/25/2006

13

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/19/2006

14

Cup

Loudon

Kyle Busch

7/16/2006

15

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/25/2007

16

Xfinity

Daytona

Kyle Busch

7/7/2007

17

Xfinity

Richmond

Kyle Busch

9/7/2007

18

Xfinity

Kansas

Kyle Busch

9/29/2007

19

Truck

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

10/27/2007

20

Truck

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/9/2007

21

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/10/2007

22

Truck

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

2/23/2008

23

Truck

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

3/7/2008

24

Cup

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

3/9/2008

25

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/5/2008

26

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

4/11/2008

27

Xfinity

Mexico City

Kyle Busch

4/20/2008

28

Cup

Talladega

Kyle Busch

4/27/2008

29

Cup

Darlington

Kyle Busch

5/10/2008

30

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/24/2008

31

Cup

Dover

Kyle Busch

6/1/2008

32

Cup

Sonoma

Kyle Busch

6/22/2008

33

Cup

Daytona

Kyle Busch

7/5/2008

34

Xfinity

Chicago

Kyle Busch

7/11/2008

35

Cup

Chicago

Kyle Busch

7/12/2008

36

Xfinity

LOR

Kyle Busch

7/26/2008

37

Cup

Watkins Glen

Kyle Busch

8/10/2008

38

Truck

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/20/2008

39

Xfinity

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

8/30/2008

40

Xfinity

Dover

Kyle Busch

9/20/2008

41

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

10/10/2008

42

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

11/1/2008

43

Truck

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

2/21/2009

44

Xfinity

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

2/21/2009

45

Cup

Las Vegas

Kyle Busch

3/1/2009

46

Truck

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

3/7/2009

47

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/22/2009

48

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/4/2009

49

Xfinity

Richmond

Kyle Busch

5/1/2009

50

Cup

Richmond

Kyle Busch

5/2/2009

51

Xfinity

Nashville

Kyle Busch

6/6/2009

52

Xfinity

Loudon

Kyle Busch

6/27/2009

53

Xfinity

Gateway

Kyle Busch

7/18/2009

54

Truck

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/19/2009

55

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/22/2009

56

Truck

Chicago

Kyle Busch

8/28/2009

57

Truck

Loudon

Kyle Busch

9/19/2009

58

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

10/16/2009

59

Truck

Talladega

Kyle Busch

10/31/2009

60

Truck

Texas

Kyle Busch

11/6/2009

61

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

11/7/2009

62

Xfinity

Homestead

Kyle Busch

11/21/2009

63

Xfinity

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

2/20/2010

64

Truck

Nashville

Kyle Busch

4/2/2010

65

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

4/9/2010

66

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/19/2010

67

Cup

Richmond

Kyle Busch

5/1/2010

68

Xfinity

Dover

Kyle Busch

5/15/2010

69

Cup

Dover

Kyle Busch

5/16/2010

70

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/21/2010

71

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/29/2010

72

Xfinity

Loudon

Kyle Busch

6/26/2010

73

Xfinity

Chicago

Kyle Busch

7/9/2010

74

Xfinity

LOR

Kyle Busch

7/24/2010

75

Xfinity

Iowa

Kyle Busch

7/31/2010

76

Truck

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/18/2010

77

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/20/2010

78

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/21/2010

79

Truck

Chicago

Kyle Busch

8/27/2010

80

Truck

Loudon

Kyle Busch

9/18/2010

81

Xfinity

Dover

Kyle Busch

9/25/2010

82

Xfinity

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

10/9/2010

83

Truck

Talladega

Kyle Busch

10/30/2010

84

Truck

Texas

Kyle Busch

11/5/2010

85

Truck

Homestead

Kyle Busch

11/19/2010

86

Xfinity

Homestead

Kyle Busch

11/20/2010

87

Truck

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

2/25/2011

88

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

2/26/2011

89

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/19/2011

90

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/20/2011

91

Xfinity

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

3/26/2011

92

Xfinity

Talladega

Kyle Busch

4/16/2011

93

Truck

Nashville

Kyle Busch

4/22/2011

94

Cup

Richmond

Kyle Busch

4/30/2011

95

Xfinity

Darlington

Kyle Busch

5/6/2011

96

Truck

Dover

Kyle Busch

5/13/2011

97

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/20/2011

98

Truck

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

7/7/2011

99

Cup

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

7/9/2011

100

Xfinity

Loudon

Kyle Busch

7/16/2011

101

Cup

Michigan

Kyle Busch

8/21/2011

102

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/26/2011

103

Xfinity

Richmond

Kyle Busch

9/9/2011

104

Truck

Loudon

Kyle Busch

9/24/2011

105

Cup

Richmond

Kyle Busch

4/28/2012

106

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

3/2/2013

107

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/16/2013

108

Xfinity

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

3/23/2013

109

Cup

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

3/24/2013

110

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/12/2013

111

Cup

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/13/2013

112

Xfinity

Darlington

Kyle Busch

5/10/2013

113

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/17/2013

114

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/25/2013

115

Truck

Dover

Kyle Busch

5/31/2013

116

Xfinity

Loudon

Kyle Busch

7/13/2013

117

Xfinity

Indianapolis

Kyle Busch

7/27/2013

118

Cup

Watkins Glen

Kyle Busch

8/11/2013

119

Truck

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/21/2013

120

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/23/2013

121

Cup

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

9/1/2013

122

Truck

Chicago

Kyle Busch

9/13/2013

123

Xfinity

Chicago

Kyle Busch

9/14/2013

124

Xfinity

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

10/11/2013

125

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/9/2013

126

Truck

Homestead

Kyle Busch

11/15/2013

127

Truck

Daytona

Kyle Busch

2/21/2014

128

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

3/1/2014

129

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

3/15/2014

130

Cup

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

3/23/2014

131

Truck

Kansas

Kyle Busch

5/9/2014

132

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/16/2014

133

Truck

Dover

Kyle Busch

5/30/2014

134

Xfinity

Dover

Kyle Busch

5/31/2014

135

Truck

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

6/26/2014

136

Xfinity

Richmond

Kyle Busch

9/5/2014

137

Truck

Chicago

Kyle Busch

9/13/2014

138

Xfinity

Dover

Kyle Busch

9/27/2014

139

Xfinity

Kansas

Kyle Busch

10/4/2014

140

Truck

Texas

Kyle Busch

10/31/2014

141

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

11/1/2014

142

Xfinity

Michigan

Kyle Busch

6/13/2015

143

Cup

Sonoma

Kyle Busch

6/28/2015

144

Cup

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

7/11/2015

145

Cup

Loudon

Kyle Busch

7/19/2015

146

Xfinity

Indianapolis

Kyle Busch

7/25/2015

147

Cup

Indianapolis

Kyle Busch

7/26/2015

148

Truck

Pocono

Kyle Busch

8/1/2015

149

Truck

Michigan

Kyle Busch

8/15/2015

150

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/21/2015

151

Xfinity

Chicago

Kyle Busch

9/19/2015

152

Xfinity

Kansas

Kyle Busch

10/17/2015

153

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/14/2015

154

Cup

Homestead

Kyle Busch

11/22/2015

155

Xfinity

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

2/27/2016

156

Xfinity

Las Vegas

Kyle Busch

3/5/2016

157

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

3/12/2016

158

Truck

Martinsville

Kyle Busch

4/2/2016

159

Cup

Martinsville

Kyle Busch

4/3/2016

160

Xfinity

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/8/2016

161

Cup

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/9/2016

162

Cup

Kansas

Kyle Busch

5/7/2016

163

Xfinity

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

7/8/2016

164

Xfinity

Loudon

Kyle Busch

7/16/2016

165

Xfinity

Indianapolis

Kyle Busch

7/23/2016

166

Cup

Indianapolis

Kyle Busch

7/24/2016

167

Xfinity

Richmond

Kyle Busch

9/9/2016

168

Truck

Chicago

Kyle Busch

9/16/2016

169

Xfinity

Kansas

Kyle Busch

10/15/2016

170

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/12/2016

171

Xfinity

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

3/4/2017

172

Truck

Kansas

Kyle Busch

5/12/2017

173

Truck

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/19/2017

174

Xfinity

Kentucky

Kyle Busch

7/8/2017

175

Xfinity

Loudon

Kyle Busch

7/15/2017

176

Cup

Pocono

Kyle Busch

7/30/2017

177

Xfinity

Watkins Glen

Kyle Busch

8/5/2017

178

Truck

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/16/2017

179

Xfinity

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/18/2017

180

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

8/19/2017

181

Cup

Loudon

Kyle Busch

9/24/2017

182

Cup

Dover

Kyle Busch

10/1/2017

183

Cup

Martinsville

Kyle Busch

10/29/2017

184

Truck

Las Vegas

Kyle Busch

3/2/2018

185

Cup

Texas

Kyle Busch

4/8/2018

186

Cup

Bristol

Kyle Busch

4/16/2018

187

Cup

Richmond

Kyle Busch

4/21/2018

188

Cup

Charlotte

Kyle Busch

5/27/2018

189

Xfinity

Pocono

Kyle Busch

6/2/2018

190

Cup

Chicago

Kyle Busch

7/1/2018

191

Truck

Pocono

Kyle Busch

7/28/2018

192

Cup

Pocono

Kyle Busch

7/29/2018

193

Cup

Richmond

Kyle Bush

9/22/2018

194

Cup

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

11/11/2018

195

Truck

Atlanta

Kyle Busch

2/23/2019

196

Truck

Las Vegas

Kyle Busch

3/1/2019

197

Xfinity

Las Vegas

Kyle Busch

3/2/2019

198

Xfinity

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

3/9/2019

199

Cup

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

3/10/2019

200

Cup

Auto Club

Kyle Busch

3/17/2019

 

 

Watch NASCAR America’s MotorSports Hour 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

NBC Sports
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Today’s episode of NASCAR America presents the MotorSports Hour runs from 5 to 6 p.m. ET, where we break down news not just in NASCAR but also IndyCar, Supercross and other racing series.

Our analysts will be Marty Snider, Parker Kligerman and AJ Allmendinger.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

With a new track layout, Sonoma gets new fan viewing area with ‘The Point’

Sonoma Raceway
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When NASCAR returns to Sonoma Raceway June 21-23, it will do so to compete on a slightly different road course than what they’ve competed on since 1998.

For the track’s 50th anniversary, it will return to its original 12-turn, 2.52-mile circuit.

That utilizes the “Carousel” portion of the track, a sweeping downhill corner from Turn 4 down through Turns 5 and 6 to the facility’s longest straightaway before reaching the Turn 7 hairpin.

With the reintroduction of the “Carousel,” Sonoma is introducing a new area for fans to enjoy that area of the track.

The track has rebranded the peninsula between Turns 1 and 6 as “The Point.” This area offers up-close views of both corners, as well as a direct perspective of the start/finish line and flag stand.

“The Point” will be upgraded with a 1,550-square-foot Humboldt Redwood shade structure, more than 700 feet of stand-up bars along the fence line and new food and beverage locations. Access to the area is free to all fans, and terrace seating is available on the hillside adjacent to Turn 1.

 

In the drivers seat: A look at one of the coolest jobs in NASCAR

Photo: Dustin Long
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Some moments they are Joey Logano. Other times they are Jimmie Johnson. Or Kevin Harvick. Or some other driver.

This isn’t a video game or make-believe. This is role-playing in the real world: They pilot a Cup car. Crew members leap from the wall. Air guns whine. Lug nuts fly.

Cup drivers rarely have time to take part in pit practice. So someone has to drive the car. That perk typically goes to an entry-level employee whose duties often include gluing lug nuts to wheels, stacking tires and monitoring air tanks.

Mark Morrison said he’ll never forget the first time he drove the car in pit practice at Hendrick Motorsports.

That was 17 years ago.

One of the sport’s coolest jobs is more than a joy ride. Teams rely on these drivers to place the car in the right position so pit crews can hone their skills. With track position critical and tenths of a second the difference between winning and losing, what happens in pit practice can make a difference in a race.

It all begins with who is driving the car.

THE FRATERNITY OF PIT CAR DRIVERS

Marcus Horton is 30 but looks young enough to get carded. His father, Phil, is the pit coach for the Drive for Diversity program but Marcus Horton didn’t plan to be a pit crew member.

He has a business degree from Marshall University but admits: “For me, I wouldn’t want to be in an office all day. I like getting my hands dirty. I probably should have took up something different in college than business. I like art, I like photographs, but I’m not sure how well that was going to translate into the real world. I thought maybe I should do something that would benefit me in the long run.”

A couple of years after graduating, Horton asked his dad if he would coach him to be a pit crew member. The younger Horton was in the Drive for Diversity program for three years and served as a pit crew member for Carl Long’s Xfinity team last year. Horton joined Stewart-Haas Racing in December as a developmental pit crew member.

Erick Harps drove the car during pit practice at Hendrick Motorsports until a recent promotion to the engine shop. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Erick Harps, 22, was recently promoted to the engine shop at Hendrick Motorsports, ending his tenure driving the pit car. He trained at Universal Technical Institute in California. Harps moved to North Carolina two years ago to work in the sport. About six months after he arrived, he got a job at Hendrick Motorsports.

Chris Tomberlin, 22, joined Team Penske on Jan. 2 as a developmental pit crew member. He will graduate this year from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he was a receiver on the football team.

“I’ve always been a fan of racing,” Tomberlin said. “The (job) opportunity presented itself. I couldn’t not accept it.”

That was before he found out he would be driving a stock car.

NOT YOUR FATHER’S CAR

When Harps told his parents he drove a car in pit practice at Hendrick Motorsports, his mother screamed in excitement.

But that wasn’t the first time he had been in a car. He had to undergo training — as any Hendrick pit car driver does — before taking part in live pit stops.

“You can’t step into one of them and think you’re going to drive it,” Harps said.

Hendrick Motorsports’ car has a race engine, providing more horsepower than a standard passenger car. The Hendrick car has a manual transmission, not automatic like many passenger cars, so if you can’t drive a stick, you wouldn’t be able to drive these cars.

Hendrick Motorsports also sets the car for each track. With the series heading to Talladega Superspeedway, that means the car will have a smaller brake package. 

At Stewart-Haas Racing, they have three different pit cars, so Horton has to know each of them. Each steering wheel is different. One is tight, another turns more freely and the other one rates between the two. The brakes also are different in each car. They’re touchy on one car, less so on the others.

“Every day it’s a like a new day for me trying to figure out where the car is going to stop and how I’m going to handle it,” Horton said.

That’s why each driver makes test runs before pit crews jump in front of the car.

“SILVER DOLLAR EYES”

One of the biggest adjustments for any pit car driver is seeing people run in front of the car during practice.

“The craziest thing is just from driving normally out on the roads, your instinct is to avoid a person” said Andy Papathanassiou, director of human performance at Hendrick Motorsports and a former pit car driver.

Having people run in front of the car is jarring for new pit car drivers. (Photo: Dustin Long)

“But when you are driving a pit practice car, you have to just focus on your mark because there are guys jumping all around you and you can’t veer from your path or then they will be in danger. So you have to literally put the blinders on and just expect that they’re going to get out of your way.”

Chris Krieg, pit crew coach at Stewart-Haas Racing, says when pit car drivers first do live stops, they all have the same condition. He calls it “silver dollar eyes” for how their eyes widen.

Horton admits when the pit crews started jumping in front of him, it altered how he entered the pit stall.

“I was stopping earlier and slowing down a lot sooner,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody on our team. It was definitely a hard time because they would be like ‘You can bring it in hotter,’ and I’d be like, ‘Actually I can’t because I think I’m going to hit you guys if I do that.’”

DO YOUR JOB

If the car stops beyond where the crew is positioned, they have to adjust and it slows the stop. Same for when the car stops too short.

There are times when a pit coach will tell the driver to purposely stop short or long or close to the pit wall to test the pit crew and prepare them for possible race situations. Other times, it’s more important to hit the right spots so the pit crew can get their reps.

“The more you practice during the week with the guy who knows exactly how to put the car where he needs to put it, the better you feel for the race track on Sunday,” said Landon Walker, fueler for William Byron’s team.

At Stewart-Haas Racing, they’ll have Horton or whoever else is driving the car to try to imitate each of the drivers for the pit crews. Each driver has their own nuance on how they enter the stall, something you likely can’t tell unless you saw them pit time after time. There are those who will lock their brakes to stop or roll the car in or stop short consistently. 

“The (pit car) driver is critical,” Krieg said. “If we waste a bunch of practice because they’re not hitting the marks where we need them to, they’re wasting time and reps and beating and banging on the crews’ body. Every rep is valuable and those guys have to be spot on.”

A PART OF THE ACTION

It’s a ride of a lifetime even if one is only traveling about 50 yards to the pit stall.

“It’s got a lot of power behind it,” Harps said. “The clutch is not an easy thing to overcome just because it’s stronger than a regular clutch. You have to have a lot of leg power. It’s very hard to get going without spinning the tire.”

Once the car stops in the stall, there’s still more for the driver to do. Keep the wheel straight for the tire changers. Don’t stall the car.

“It’s cool to actually be able to feel the changers hit their lugs and feel the jackman make his first punch on the car, feel the carriers slamming that tire on the car,” Tomberlin said. “It’s rare to be able to experience it.”

It’s an experience only a few get. It’s quite a ride.

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Ryan Sieg’s crew chief shares secrets to early success in Xfinity Series

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What started off as a pleasant surprise this year has become the norm for Ryan Sieg Racing in the Xfinity Series.

Through eight races, Ryan Sieg and his No. 39 Chevrolet have yet to finish worse than 12th.

The team based just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, has an average finish of 8.6, sixth-best among series regulars.

Heading into the second off-weekend of the year for the Xfinity Series, Sieg is probably still cleaning up from the Larry’s Hard Lemonade shower he received after he placed fifth last Friday at Richmond.

According to veteran crew chief Shane Wilson, the second non-superspeedway top five of Sieg’s career was made possible by what Sieg didn’t do a month earlier at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

By not tearing up their short-track car at Phoenix, it allowed the team to take that car’s setup and add Richmond-specific tweaks that “worked out pretty good,” Wilson said Tuesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Late Shift.”

Sieg has kept his cars clean so far, finishing on the lead lap in every race but one (Bristol, 12th) and earning five top 10s. That’s the most in his seven-year, 133-race Xfinity career.

Shane Wilson has been heading Ryan Sieg’s surprise run in 2019. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Two weeks before Richmond, Sieg captured the first stage win of his career by not pitting late in Stage 2 at Texas Motor Speedway.

What Wilson has accomplished with the family owned team is a product of a late union and a “big departure” from what Wilson was used to just a few years ago with Richard Childress Racing.

Wilson, who last year was crew chief for Kaz Grala’s upstart Fury Race Cars, was hired a couple of weeks before Speedweeks in Daytona.

Since then, Wilson wakes up every Monday around 3:45 a.m. at his home in the Charlotte area and drives around 200 miles to the team’s shop in Sugar Hill, Georgia.

“Most times I get home by Wednesday night and then we go race,” Wilson said. “That’s kind of been my schedule so far. A little here, a little there. I chase parts in the Charlotte area, Mooresville some days. It gets me home a little quicker. There’s a few of us that make the trip down here and they have a nice little, kind of like a college dorm up above the shop and some of us stay there. It’s been fun. It’s different, it’s fun and it’s been challenging.”

Another part of Sieg’s surprise performance this year are the cars he’s been keeping unscathed. The team bought three new cars from RCR in the offseason.

“We had the ECR engine deal and it was good year to buy cars from RCR because they downsized from numerous Xfinity cars to a single car,” Wilson said. “I feel like we got good stuff.

“It’s a good relationship. The Siegs bought or leased engines from RCR for many years ever since they’ve been racing in the Truck Series. So they’re a good engine customer to ECR, bought a lot of chassis from Richard. That’s kind of where it stops. There’s a few different tiers that you can get nowadays and we don’t get simulation or any kind of parts tracking or the database or anything like that.

“Chevrolet helps us with a few tools. We have what we need and we don’t have a whole lot extra, but we have enough to compete.”

Wilson said recruiting talent to help out the small team is made easier with fewer Xfinity teams.

But he’s not just getting help from the North Carolina and Georgia areas.

“I got a good friend of mine doing our shocks now and shipped some more of those up to him in Vermont,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the experience reminds him of the days “when we volunteered and helped out our best friend.”

“Ryan has some experience, so he’s very helpful,” Wilson added. “His feedback is good now that we have current cars, good engines. More people working on it. We’re able to put up more of a fight at the race track.”