Kyle Busch goes unbeaten in five Xfinity races this year; winning in possibly last career start


HAMPTON, Georgia — Kyle Busch put a perfect punctuation mark with a victory in his last Xfinity Series start this season — and likely the last of his record-breaking career — with a dominant victory Saturday.

Starting on pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch won both stages and led 97 of 164 laps for his 102nd career victory on NASCAR’s junior circuit.

It wasn’t easy for the two-time Cup Series champion, who had to fend off spirited challenges by Daniel Hemric and Jeb Burton (whom he outdueled for the victory on a two-lap overtime shootout). Busch took the lead on a restart with six laps to go when he made contact with Hemric in a push that sent his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate out of the lead and into the wall.

POINTS, RESULTS: Stats package from Atlanta

“I meant to push him, and I wanted to hit him, I just wanted to ht him forward and straight but turned him sideways a little bit, and I think he got more help on his right side,” Busch told NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider. “Just trying to help a teammate there, and that’s why I restarted behind him. Overall, great day for our 54 car, but (Hemric) was better and deserved this win. So I’m sorry to Daniel and all those guys. I hate it that all that transpired.

“That’s why this win is a little more somber than others have been. You don’t take solace in a win like that. But a win’s a win.”

Hemric finished 30th after leading 45 laps and remained winless in 105 Xfinity starts (and 192 races across NASCAR’s three national series).

“What could have been, right? That’s all you can think about,” Hemric told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “On the flip side, you can’t change it. It wasn’t intentional by any means. I did spin the tires a little bit. We were on scuff tires there.

“I thought we got rolling about as best that we could, and Kyle just went to push me to help our momentum in the bottom lane, and I think right when he went to hook on to my back bumper, there was a swell there right before you turn into 1. I think it’s just the way the car loads up there – it was laying on the left-rear tire – must have hit the line and shoved me right. I know it wasn’t intentional, but at the end of the day, it sucks.”

It was the 362nd start of his career for Busch, who has no future races lined up and has said he intended to retire from Xfinity after his 100th victory (which he earned last month at Nashville Superspeedway).

Before Saturday’s race, Busch told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider that it would be his last start in the Xfinity Series, and he sent some contemplative tweets before the race.

“It’s never say never, but yeah, this is it,” Busch said when asked postrace by Snider if it was his final Xfinity start.

After his record-extending 100th career series win Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway, Busch said he wasn’t expecting to race in Xfinity beyond 2021, and that Joe Gibbs Racing wasn’t selling race sponsorships with the driver for the series next year.

Busch said he would be fine with leaving the circuit as its winningest driver.

“Did you hear the crowd? Nobody likes me here,” Busch joked. “So peace out, Goodbye. If you want me to pay me to quit on the Cup side, bring it on, I’ll be gone.

“I get beat up, whether it’s the fans or here (media center). Why am I doing it? What am I doing it for? Why am I beating up on the little kids and all that B.S.”

NASCAR rules limit drivers who score Cup points and have more than three full-time seasons in Cup to no more than five Xfinity races annually. Such drivers also are not allowed to compete in the final eight Xfinity races of the season (regular-season finale and the seven playoffs races) and the four Dash 4 Cash events.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

NOTABLE: Michael Annett was replaced at the last minute by Austin Dillon, who dropped to the rear in the No. 1 Chevrolet. Annett, who also was replaced for Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Knoxville Raceway, missed his first Xfinity race since 2013 (a streak of 173 consecutive races). The Athletic reported that Annett had a leg injury, according to JR Motorsports. NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he learned 20 minutes before the race that the team would need a new driver. The two-time Xfinity Series champion said he would have driven in place of Annett if his HANS device and helmet had been at the track. … CJ McLaughlin exited his No. 66 Toyota under a caution that started on Lap 118, yielding to David Starr. NBC Sports’ Dave Burns reported that McLaughlin suffered from heat exhaustion. … The No. 16 (AJ Allmendinger), No. 9 (Noah Gragson), No. 02 (Brett Moffitt) and No. 90 (Ronnie Bassett Jr.) failed twice in prerace inspection and will lose pit selection for the next event.

NEXT: The series will race July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Texas Truck race results: Carson Hocevar scores first series win

Texas Truck race results
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Carson Hocevar was in front after the leaders crashed in overtime and scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Texas Truck race results

Rookie Nick Sanchez, who led 168 of the 172-lap race, dueled reigning series champion Zane Smith on the last lap when Sanchez’s truck hit Smith’s. As Sanchez tried to regain control of his vehicle, he was hit from behind by Hocevar. That contact sent Sanchez into Smith. Christian Eckes also was collected.

Hocevar’s first win came in his 59th series start.

Chase Purdy placed second. Stewart Friesen finished third. Ty Majeski was fourth. Jake Garcia completed the top five.


Richmond Xfinity results, driver points


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith won a stage, led a race-high 83 laps and rallied late to score his first career Xfinity win Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

MORE: Richmond Xfinity results

MORE: Xfinity points after Richmond race

John Hunter Nemechek placed second. The rest of the top five featured Josh Berry, Kaz Grala and Cole Custer. Austin Hill, who had won three of the first six races of the season, placed ninth.

Hill continues to lead the points. He has a 12-point advantage on Riley Herbst and an 18-point lead on Nemechek heading into the next series race in two weeks at Martinsville.

Chandler Smith scores first career Xfinity win with Richmond victory


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith held off John Hunter Nemechek to win his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

The 20-year-old Smith took the lead with 12 laps to go and withstood a restart with six laps to go to earn the victory for Kaulig Racing.

MORE: Richmond race results, driver points

His victory came about a month after being passed for the lead with two laps to go at Las Vegas and finishing third day.

“It obviously wasn’t in God’s works for me that and I was fine with that, I was good with that,” said Smith, who will make his Cup debut Sunday. “I knew there was something bigger and better that He was playing it out for me and I just had to be faithful and keep on trucking. Here’s proof of it.”

Nemechek was second. Josh Berry placed third and was followed by Kaz Grala and Cole Custer.

Justin Allgaier finished 13th to win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

“Today was weird because of how we finished,” Allgaier said. “Given the same circumstances a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, 13th wasn’t going to win the Dash 4 Cash but today it did.”

Stage 1 winner: Chandler Smith

Stage 2 winner: Josh Berry

Who had a good race: A caution caught Justin Allgaier a lap down, ending his chances for a top-five finish but he was able to bounce back and win the Dash 4 Cash for a fifth time. … Derek Kraus finished 10th in his Xfinity debut. … Chris Hacker placed 14th in his Xfinity debut.

Who had a bad race: Riley Herbst had his career-long streak of top-10 finishes snapped after nine races. He placed 23rd after he was hit and spun late in the race.

Notable: This is the second time in the last four races that there has been a first-time series winner. Sammy Smith scored his first series win last month at Phoenix.

Next: The series is off until April 15 at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain move on from COTA incident


RICHMOND, Va. — Daniel Suarez says he’s been trying to “work on myself” after conflicts with teammate Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman last weekend at COTA but noted that if NASCAR doesn’t make adjustments with restarts on road courses, he’ll change his driving style.

NASCAR fined Suarez $50,000 on Wednesday for hitting another vehicle on pit road after the race. Suarez hit Chastain’s car at pit entrance and hit the back of Bowman’s car while they were both on pit road.

MORE: Cup starting lineup at Richmond 

“I’ve been trying to work on myself mostly during the week, trying to clear my mind and reset,” Suarez said Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “My team, we’re good. I think the issue wasn’t really with one driver. I feel like it’s more as an industry, how we are allowing to have those kind of bump-and-run restarts at the end of the races at road courses.

“I don’t think that’s right.”

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to go by. Suarez finished 27th.

Chastain said he and Suarez have moved on from last week’s incident after talking this week.

“Every household on this earth has their moments of arguments and we had ours,” Chastain said Saturday.

“We’re family. We’re in the same house, right. It’s in our name. It’s Trackhouse. No matter what, we all think we have to put that behind and know that moving forward we’re brothers. … We’re brothers at Trackhouse and we’re going to be stronger together.”

Suarez is among the number of drivers who have raised concerns about the rough driving in the series. The Next Gen car is more durable and can take more hits — as evident in the Clash at the Coliseum to start the year when drivers barreled into the back of cars in the corners to slow down.

Add the emphasis of winning, less respect for one another and the result is the type of racing on display at the end of the race at Circuit of the Americas, as drivers charged down a long straightaway before braking hard for a tight turn and making contact with one another.

So, what can be done?

“I don’t have the answers to that,” Suarez said. “All I know is that NASCAR is working toward trying to make a better solution for some of these restarts. It doesn’t look right. This sport looks embarrassing.

“That’s not real. Just go into the corner and bump three cars to push people out of that way, that’s not real. We know that. That’s how some people got top fives and top 10s last week and some of the guys that were fast, like myself, finished 27th.

“If NASCAR does something about it, that’s amazing. If they don’t I’ll just join the party.”