JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Joe Gibbs Racing grabbed its first victory of the weekend on Saturday night when Kyle Busch won the Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
The race was a rout for JGR as drivers Busch and Matt Kenseth combined to lead 186 of the 200 laps.
The two then dueled over the closing laps, with Kenseth sliding past Busch for the lead with two laps remaining. Kenseth had to race his way around Chase Elliott and John Wes Townley to make the sweeping pass of his teammate.
But Busch immediately answered, snatched the lead back, and sailed off to his record 74th career Xfinity Series victory. Kenseth was stuck behind Townley over the final lap, which held him up and prevented him from making another attempt at the win.
He dryly then referred to Townley as the character who played a fried chicken magnate in "Stroker Ace" when discussing the closing laps. Townley is sponsored by his family's chain of fried chicken restaurants.
"Yeah, I just couldn't get Clyde Torkel out of the way, but I was trying, man," said Kenseth, who noted Elliott moved out of the way. "Thanks to Chase for giving us a lane to race for the win."
Busch marveled at the closing laps in victory lane.
"That was some fun racing," he said before accepting the winning trophy from actor/rapper Ludacris.
Kenseth finished second, and the two Toyota drivers ran first and second for all but 17 laps of the race.
It was a strong opening race for JGR, which has won seven of the last 14 Xfinity Series races. More impressive, the organization heads into Sunday's opening round of NASCAR's playoffs with eight wins in the last 11 Sprint Cup events.
All four of JGR's drivers are in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field and the organization is considered a heavy favorite to win the Cup championship this year.
On Saturday, in a race for fun, Busch certainly enjoyed the closing laps with his teammate.
"That was a race. I thought that was a blast being able to run with Matt like that. I'm glad it was a teammate," Busch said, noting he thought an earlier pass of Kenseth had sealed the win.
"I thought when I got to him and I got clear of him and I drove away from him, it was over. I thought 'Thank you, I can breathe a little bit.' Then he started running us back down."
Kenseth was disappointed in defeat.
"The best car didn't win tonight, the best driver did," said Kenseth. "Kyle just did a better job driving than I did and I had the fastest car. I just took too long to get to the top (lane) and try to make that work. So anyway, we got beat. It's a bummer to be second."
Darrell Wallace Jr. finished third in a Ford and was followed by the Chevrolets of Paul Menard and Ty Dillon. Daniel Suarez, in the third JGR Toyota in the field, finished sixth.
Kyle Larson finished 22nd after running out of fuel in the closing laps for the second time Saturday. He was leading the Truck Series race Saturday morning and was headed to the victory when he ran out of gas.
He took to Twitter almost immediately after the race ended to vent about his bad luck.
"Hope I'm done worrying about fuel for the weekend," he tweeted.