Kyle Busch (who else?) wins Truck race from pole at Dover

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This is getting redundant:

Kyle Busch started from the pole, Kyle Busch dominated throughout the race and, who else, Kyle Busch went on to win Friday’s Lucas Oil 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway.

Busch led 150 of the 200 laps on the one-mile, all-concrete track, averaging just under 150 mph per lap.

It was Busch’s fourth win in as many starts for him in the NCWTS’ first five races of 2014. It was also his 39th career win in a truck (in 119 starts) and his 133rd overall win across all three of NASCAR’s national series.

Busch had some good news for his rivals when he climbed out of his truck in victory lane: It will be a while before he is back on the Truck circuit.

“Hey, my little buddy, it’s Eric Jones’ (who also races for Kyle Busch Motorsports) birthday today, so happy 18th birthday to Eric Jones,” Busch said with a smile. “(Jones will drive Busch’s truck) for five of the next six, I think, so everybody can get rid of Kyle Busch.”

Ryan Blaney made a late rally to finish second, followed by Johnny Sauter, Brandon Jones and Joey Coulter.

Sixth through 10th were John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Kennedy, Tyler Reddick, German Quiroga Jr. and Timothy Peters.

With 44 laps to go, points leader Matt Crafton was running second to Kyle Busch before wrecking hard coming out of Turn 2.

“Something in the right front went down, didn’t give me any warning,” Crafton said. “All of a sudden, boom, it was done. It’s a shame.”

This marks the first time Crafton has not finished a NCWTS in 47 starts.

With the wreck, Crafton dropped out of the points lead. Timothy Peters is now atop the standings, but Crafton is close by, tied with Johnny Sauter for second, just one point behind Peters. Quiroga is in fourth, six points back, while four-time NCWTS champ Ron Hornaday is in fifth place in the rankings, 15 points back.

Here’s the final results of Friday’s Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Johnny Sauter
  4. Brandon Jones
  5. Joey Coulter
  6. John Hunter Nemechek
  7. Ben Kennedy
  8. Tyler Reddick
  9. German Quiroga Jr.
  10. Timothy Peters
  11. Ron Hornaday Jr.
  12. John Wes Townley
  13. Scott Riggs
  14. Cole Custer
  15. T.J. Bell
  16. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  17. Tyler Young
  18. Jeb Burton
  19. Justin Jennings
  20. Jennifer Jo Cobb
  21. Gray Gaulding
  22. Ben Rhodes
  23. Matt Crafton
  24. Ryan Sieg
  25. Bryan Silas
  26. Mason Mingus
  27. Brennan Newberry
  28. Norm Benning
  29. Jake Crum
  30. Jimmy Weller III
  31. Raymond Terczak Jr.
  32. Charles Lewandoski
  33. Todd Peck
  34. Ryan Ellis
  35. Blake Koch

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Alexander Rossi hopes to dodge oncoming traffic in second Baja 1000

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One of the great viral videos of last year’s offseason was the sight of Alexander Rossi’s Honda Ridgeline off-road vehicle and its near head-on collision with a passenger SUV coming in the wrong direction of last year’s Baja 1000.

The video of the incident overshadowed an outstanding debut for Rossi in the SCORE OFF Road Desert race.

Rossi (pictured above on the right along with fellow driver Jeff Proctor) told NBCSports.com that driving down the same roads still used by passenger traffic is one of the unique challenges of the Baja 1000.

“The most demanding form of racing is IndyCar racing,” Rossi told NBC Sports.com. “But the big thing for me in the Baja 1000 is mentally being able to understand the terrain that is coming at you at 120 miles an hour in the dust and pedestrians and other cars, people and cattle that come along with this race.”

Rossi is becoming a modern-day Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. He wants to race anything on wheels and win.

Since the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season concluded with the Sept. 22 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Rossi competed in the Bathurst 1000 in Australia on Oct. 13. Earlier this year, Rossi drove for Acura Team Penske in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

This weekend, the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016 and a perennial contender for the NTT IndyCar Series championship will compete in the Baja 1000 for the second straight year.

Rossi will be driving for the Honda Ridgeline Racing team and is the sixth Indy 500 winner to compete in the Baja 1000.

Other Indy 500 winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 include Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis winner and a two-time Baja 1000 race winner (1971 72); fellow Honda IndyCar Series driver and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, the Indy winner in 2014; Rick Mears, who won the Indianapolis 500 four times, 1985 Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan and 2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice.

NTT IndyCar season champions who have raced in the Baja 1000 include Mears, Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.

Rossi has a better understanding of what to expect in this year’s Baja 1000 after last year’s rookie experience.

How valuable was last years’ experience?

“It’s hugely valuable,” Rossi said. “The course changes each year. There will be some elements that are the same, but it’s a new route from start to finish this year. That is why we go down a week early. We do pre-running in a similar type of vehicle and take course notes and analyze each individual section of the course, find the danger areas and what you need to do come race day.

“Ultimately, the biggest thing is having the knowledge of how to prepare for the race and what to expect once you roll off the starting line. That is something I will have going for me this year that I didn’t have last year.”

As an off-road rookie, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“I don’t know that I can pinpoint any highlights other than just the whole experience,” Rossi said of last years’ experience. “The whole week and a half I had down there in 2018 was phenomenal. The team made me feel part of the family from Day One. I just love driving a desert truck through Baja California. It’s an experience unlike any other.

“The entire event was a highlight more than one specific moment.”

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Driving an off-road Honda Ridgeline through the desert of Baja California in Mexico is vastly different than Rossi’s regular ride in the No. 27 NAPA Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series. But Rossi believes there are many similarities, also.

“It’s very different, for obvious reasons, but ultimately, a race car is a race car,” Rossi said. “It has four wheels, and you are trying to get it from Point A to Point B quicker than other people. The general underlying techniques of getting a car through the corner efficiently is all the same; it’s just a different style.

“Everyone here is very talented at what they do and very good so in order to win this race, you have to be at the top of your game.”

The Baja 1000, like most forms of off-road racing, is more against the clock than a wheel-to-wheel competition such as IndyCar. Rossi believes it is a different form of endurance racing, similar to IMSA in many ways.

“You have to compare it like an endurance race,” Rossi said. “It’s a race where the first part of it, you are trying to get through and not take chances and stay in touch with the people you are trying to stay in touch with.

“When you get down to the final 20 to 30 percent, that is when you try to either close the lead of extend the lead of whatever position you are in. That is similar to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It comes down to the last three or four hours, and we take a mentality closer to that.

“The only difference is if you get it wrong at Daytona, you spin in the grass. Here, it can be more dramatic than that.”

As an off-road rookie in 2018, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“The Honda off-road guys and my co-driver/navigator Evan Weller make it so easy for me to just jump right in and go to work,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to share the seat with Jeff [Proctor] and Pat [Dailey] once again, and hopefully, bring home a win.”

The Honda Off-Road Racing Team has had an outstanding 2019 season, including class wins for the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck at the Parker 425, the Mint 400 and the Baja 500; where the team successfully debuted the second-generation “TSCO” chassis; and a second-place Class 7 finish at the Vegas-to-Reno event.

Proctor won his class in the Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 with the Ridgeline, finished second in class in 2017 and 2018; and won the companion SCORE Baja 500 race both in 2016, 2018 and again earlier this year. The Ridgeline competes in Class 7, for unlimited six-cylinder production-appearing trucks and SUVs.

“We are stoked to have Alexander back racing with us in Mexico for his sophomore attempt at this iconic off-road race,” Proctor said. “This year’s 52nd annual Baja 1000 course covers ALL of the toughest terrain and areas in Baja Norte….as always, it will be tough.

“Alex is one of the brightest motorsports minds I’ve worked with, and he is a great asset to our team.”

The Baja 1000 begins Friday and runs through the weekend along the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500