After qualifying sixth for the fred's 250 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Kurt Busch proved that the Dollar General Tundra would be one of the trucks to beat when things shook out at the end of the race, hovering amongst the top three trucks for the majority of the 94-lap event. The elder Busch Brother, driving for his younger brother Kyle's truck team for the second time this season, was scored in the third position for the final restart on lap 88 and through his spotter made a deal with race-leader Jason White to work together during the final laps.
When the field took the green for the final time with six laps to go, Busch stuck to his plan to work with White. By the time the duo reached the start-finish line with five to go, they had separated themselves from the rest of the field by four-truck lengths. Two laps later, championship contenders Ty Dillon and James Buescher connected and pushed their way to the front of the field, settling in front of Busch and White on the inside lane. Eventual race winner Parker Kligerman and Johnny Sauter took to the outside lane and used their momentum to catapult past both tandems on the inside lane just before things got bottled up on the final lap and a wreck ensued on the backstretch. The caution flew with the leaders halfway down the backstretch, ending the event per NASCAR rules and relegating the No. 18 Dollar General Tundra to an undeserving seventh-place finish.
"We had a really fast Dollar General Tundra -- it just came down to a typical superspeedway race and we got shuffled back a little bit the last couple laps," crew chief Eric Phillips said. "It's a shame that we didn't get the finish that Kurt and this whole team deserved -- it was the same way when he drove for us in Michigan. That's been the story of our year -- we've had really fast Toyota's but the end results haven't been indicative of our performance."
Busch, who led once for two laps, pushed several different drivers to the lead throughout the 94-lap race as he ran predominantly in the second and third positions. The team made a small chassis adjustment to add stability to the rear of the Dollar General Tundra under caution on lap 33. On lap 48, they came down pit road under caution to put fresh right-side tires on and a full load of fuel into their Toyota. On lap 62, the Las Vegas native visited his pit stall for the final time, once again for a fuel-only stop.
While cleanup continued from the lap-61 wreck, Busch -- who was running just his third Truck Series event in 10 years -- verbally went through a checklist of the truck numbers that surrounded him in the top 10 and the drivers that piloted them, beginning to develop his strategy for the closing laps.
Busch remained in the third position when another caution slowed the field on lap 76. Dollar General Racing team spotter Steve Barkdoll worked a deal with Justin Lofton, the race leader, to choose the inside lane for the restart, allowing the two trucks to work together when the race returned to green-flag conditions. The plan worked for two laps, but a two-truck tandem worked past them on the outside lane and shortly after that Lofton got hung out of the draft and faded to the middle of the pack. The top-seven trucks settled into a single-file line until another caution occurred on lap 84.
Once again, the race-leader -- this time the No. 23 of White -- chose the inside lane to align with Busch in the third position. The strategy appeared to work again, as the two pushed to the front of the field for two laps, but in the closing laps the pair got shuffled back and all the No. 18 team could muster was its fifth consecutive top-10 result.
Parker Kligerman became the eighth different first-time winner in the Truck Series this season, advancing from the 19th position with 14 laps to go to take the lead when the last-lap wreck ended the race under caution. Johnny Sauter finished in the runner-up spot, while championship contenders James Buescher, Ty Dillon and Timothy Peters rounded out the top-five finishers. Busch's teammate, three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion German Quiroga, posted an impressive eighth-place finish in just his third career Truck Series start.
There were seven caution periods for 26 laps. Thirteen drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead 19 times. Eleven of the 36 drivers who took the green flag failed to finish the race.
With its 13th top-10 finish of the season, No. 18 Tundra team gained two positions in the Truck Series Owner's point standings. The team ranks seventh, 80 points behind the series leading No. 3 truck, with 18 of 22 races complete. With one circuit led, the team has now led at least one lap in five straight and six of the last seven races.
To celebrate Busch's top-10 finish, Dollar General is giving anyone who places an online order Monday, Oct. 8, a 10 percent discount off their entire purchase.
Brian Scott makes his fourth Truck Series start for KBM when the Truck Series returns to action Saturday, Oct. 27, driving the Shore Lodge Tundra in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. ET, with SPEED's live coverage commencing with the NCWTS Setup Show at 1 p.m. ET.