Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Kvapil captures Michigan 200


Travis Kvapil drives the No. 6 truck across the finish line before Kyle Busch in the 51 truck.


BROOKLYN, Mich. - Kyle Busch finished the week where he began - second best.

Travis Kvapil ended yesterday's Michigan 200 where he started - the best.

The pole sitter at Michigan International Speedway, Kvapil passed Busch on the second-to-last lap to win his sixth career Craftsman Truck series event.

Kvapil, who returned to the series this year after struggling in the Nextel Cup circuit in 2005 and '06, led at the beginning, the halfway point and the conclusion of the 100-lap race. It was Kvapil's first win since returning to the Truck series and the 45th win for owner Jack Roush.

"We started the year off kind of struggling, and [crew chief] Mike Beam and the guys here really just figured out what we needed to do to make the trucks where I could drive them fast," Kvapil said.

Most signs late in the race indicated Busch would take the checkered flag, which would have cast a positive ending to a tumultuous week for the star 22-year-old. Busch, who said this week he will be leaving Hendrick Motorsports after it announced it will hire Dale Earnhardt Jr., led from laps 69 to 98.

But even as the leader, Busch never felt completely comfortable.

"I was all over the place, the middle, the bottom, the top," said Busch, who will start third in today's Nextel Cup Citizens Bank 400. "I just could never find a place that would let me get a good run off the corner. Our truck was good enough, solid enough to win the race, but just not quite good enough to get where I needed to be off the corner."

Busch dodged several desperation attempts from Kvapil, who was content to stay low on the track while Busch rode high near the wall. Kvapil often crept beside Busch but wasn't able to finally break through until lap 99 when he took the lead on turn four and remained in front for his second career win at MIS.

"We got down into turn three and he slipped a little bit and I had to capitalize on it right at the spot, right at that time," Kvapil said.

Brendan Gaughan finished third and points leader Mike Skinner was a spot behind. Sylvania's Terry Cook finished 11th in the 250th race of his career after qualifying 18th earlier in the day.

Busch's Chevrolet wasn't the only misaligned truck that benefited Kvapil.

Mark Martin, who qualified second, appeared to have the hottest truck in the field before succumbing to engine troubles on lap 47 and finishing 33rd. To that point, Martin had led 35 laps, including the first when he passed Kvapil and opened up a sizeable distance advantage over the field.

"Mark was the class of the field today, obviously," Busch said. "He was gone. No one was going to touch that thing."

But Kvapil proved more unreachable.

"I talked two or three times, down on my hands and knees, to beg Travis to come over here and help us with this, and I felt like we let him down [before yesterday]," Roush said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

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