Busch fought to maintain his lead following a late restart to win his first Truck Series victory of the season on Saturday night.
Kyle Busch won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the year at Sonoma Raceway, extending his record career total of 62 series victories and a string of 10 years with at least one series win.
Busch led 45 of the 75 laps in the DoorDash 250 at the 1.99-mile road course in California wine country, but he couldn’t defeat Smith, who leads the series with three victories in 2022.
Busch, the all-time most successful driver in the Camping World Truck Series, has won in a variety of races, and that experience came in useful on Saturday afternoon. In one of NASCAR’s finest road course events, there were five leaders and ten lead changes, as well as a nearly 13-minute red flag in the closing laps with all the pit strategy you’d expect.
At Lap 71, a heavy incident involving Josh Bilicki, Stewart Friesen, and Alex Bowman approaching Turn 1 brought out the race’s last caution. Bilicki and Friesen took the brunt of the damage. When they collided with the concrete barriers, the walls shifted, necessitating the red flag, which signalled the start of the final sprint to the finish line.
Ross Chastain held Busch and Smith on their toes until late in the race, when an off-course mishap eliminated any hope of him pulling off any last-lap heroics for the win. Five NASCAR Cup Series drivers competed in the first Truck Series race at Sonoma since 1998 on Saturday.
In the first 25 laps, Chastain, Majeski, Busch, and Grant Enfinger exchanged the lead five times until Busch took the lead. He led for 18 circuits, 15 laps, and the last 11 laps after regaining the lead for the second time on lap 26. During that span, he only trailed for six laps as the pit stops came.
After Majeski and Ben Rhodes won the first and second stages, he won the third by 1.176 seconds. Six times for 17 caution laps, the race was slowed.
“Just continuing to work on the truck and make it better,” Busch said of his team’s race-long work on the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota that has now won three times on the season. “This Tundra TRD Pro was awesome today and really proud to drive it. We had a struggle at Charlotte a couple weeks ago but today was really good.”
Smith, who gradually gained ground later in the race, ended only 1.176 seconds behind Busch and admitted that his team had to work hard on the truck at each pit stop, eventually finding the appropriate changes to compete at the end.
The winner of the first stage, Ty Majeski, was third, followed by Chastain and Busch’s teammate Chandler Smith.
Daniel Suárez, who took over for the injured Carson Hocevar early in the race, finished sixth in the pole-winning No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet. Suárez and the team had a tremendous performance, especially given the truck lost two laps on pit road due to the driver change on Lap 11.
The top-10 was completed by Parker Kligerman, John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Ankrum, and Matt DiBenedetto.
The top four drivers in the championship are currently separated by only 14 points, with Stage 2 victor and defending series champion Ben Rhodes battling Busch for the lead when a tyre problem forced him to pit.
Rhodes won the eighth stage for the first time in the series, and he leads Chandler Smith by just five points in the championship.
The Truck Series had not raced at the California road track since a four-race run from 1995 to 1998. The first four Sonoma truck winners were in attendance: Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr., Dave Rezendes, Joe Ruttman, and Boris Said.
The next Camping World Truck Series race will take place at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).