RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Busch is turning Denny Hamlin's Short Track Showdown into his personal showcase.
Busch, a teammate of Hamlin's with Joe Gibbs Racing, grabbed the lead before the 5-minute pit stops that came after 46 laps Thursday night, then pulled away when the race went back to green, easily holding off David Ragan for the victory.
It was his third win in the six years of the event. The race benefits the Denny Hamlin Foundation, which is committed to helping children with cystic fibrosis.
"Late Models is what I grew up in and it's fun to sit in that seat," Busch said in Victory Lane.
With Hamlin sidelined by a compression fracture of a vertebra in his lower back and forced to watch the event at his home track, Busch once again made the 75-lap race his to lose in a car that was built by his team, Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"Too much," Busch said when asked what it cost to build the car just for the race.
Ragan was second, followed by Ben Rhodes, Ronnie Bassett Jr. and Garrett Campbell.
Busch said once he pulled away for the final segment of the race, he only drove as hard as he needed to to maintain a comfortable advantage, thinking that Ragan behind him might be saving something in the event of a late restart.
"Kyle may say that when he's standing in Victory Lane, but I bet he was driving his car pretty hard, too," Ragan said.
Matt Kenseth, a late fill-in for Hamlin when the driver was not cleared to race because of his injuries, said earlier in the day that his excitement was at an all-time low after NASCAR issued stiff penalties to his team for an illegal engine part at Kansas. Kenseth's bad day continued when he slammed into CE Falk III before the 5-minute pit stops and spun himself out.
He finished 22nd.
Defending champion Tony Stewart also had a short night, getting spun out and then T-boned before the break. He climbed from the car during the break and did not return, finishing 28th.