LOUDON, N.H. — He wasn’t supposed to have enough fuel. Kyle Busch shouldn’t have finished all 213 laps in the Profit 200 on Saturday.
Somehow, his No. 54 Toyota pulled it off. After a maximum attempt of three green-and-white checkered finishes, Busch finished first.
He even had leftover fuel for a burnout around the track — and another burnout to roll into the Victory Lane.
“I bet you there’s still a couple gallons left,” Busch said, with a smile.
“Once you get in that situation at the end, there’s nothing you can do,” said Adam Stevens, Busch’s crew chief. “Just ride it out. “
Busch drove the final 94 laps without a pit stop.
He had a 1.7-second lead with two laps to go when the first caution flag was raised. Two restarts later, things got hectic.
“We thought the whole field was going to run out of gas,” said Brian Vickers, who finished second.
Busch said a large reason he won was because his last pit stop came two laps after Vickers’s final stop.
Stevens said he knew Busch had a buffer, but he wasn’t sure how much. By the end, with the added laps, his math got fuzzy.
“He must have done a good job saving when he didn’t have to go that hard,” Stevens said.
It was Busch’s fourth Nationwide win from the pole this season, tying Sam Ard’s record set in 1983. That was two years before Busch was born.
“Every time we’re in Victory Lane it seems we break some record,” Busch said.
Busch has now won four of his eight career starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This might be the wildest finish of them all, even though Busch led for 141 of the 213 laps.
“I think whoever was in the front, as long as you didn’t make a mistake, was going to stay there,” Vickers said.
The first 50 laps of the Town Fair Tire 100 featured a thrilling duel between Ted Christopher and Rowan Pennink.
The Whelen Modified Tour drivers jostled back and forth for first place. There was no stoppage.
The next 50 laps? Completely different story: four restarts, one seven-car crash, and a wide-open field.
Connecticut native Doug Coby prevailed, holding off two late challenges. Christopher finished second, while Ryan Preece, from Kensington, Conn., placed third.
The dizzying 100-lap race featured 27 lead changes, three short of the track record.
“I’m sure there were more if you counted the ones that weren’t official,” said Coby, who grabbed the lead for good in the 96th lap.
NHMS is one of the most unpredictable venues for the stock car series.
The short track is known for an abundance of lead changes because of its long straightaways. Last July’s race was decided by three-1,000ths of a second.
“It was just crazy out there,” Coby said in the Victory Lane. “It means everything to win here.”
Coby, the reigning Tour champion, won here last September.
Preece appeared winded after finishing third in the Town Fair Tire 100. He had a little more than an hour to recover.
That’s when he would make his Nationwide Series debut in the Profit 200. Would it be difficult to rebound?
“He’s 22,” interjected Christopher. “I’ve done it and I’m a lot older.”
Indeed, the 55-year-old Christopher, and many others, have pulled off the double duty.
Regardless, it was a whirlwind day. Preece is the season points leader on the Whelen Modified Tour after extending his career-high streak to 12 top-10 finishes.
“Any time you have a day where you can bring the car off the trailer, run it up front and lead laps, it’s a good day,” Preece said after the Town Fair Tire 100.
But the Nationwide Series is the big leagues.
Preece said he had modest expectations for his debut. He didn’t want to commit a penalty, and hoped to complete every lap. He did, settling for a 24th-place finish.Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.