Picture perfect: Kyle Busch leads all 250 laps in Richmond NNS win

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If Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 were a baseball game, Kyle Busch would have pitched a perfect game.

Busch started in the lead of the Nationwide Series race, held the point midway through and then took the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway, ultimately leading all 250 laps.

It doesn’t get much better than that, for sure, as Busch claimed his fourth win of the season and 67th of his NNS career. It was also his 22nd win from the pole.

“Good car, good engine and good execution tonight,” Busch said afterward. “I’m pumped about being back in Victory Lane in the Nationwide Series and here at Richmond. It’s been a while.

“It’s fun to come back here and get back on track and get some mojo for tomorrow night (Cup race).

It was the second time in Busch’s career that he has led all laps of an NNS race, having done so previously in February 2011 at Phoenix.

The feat has been done 17 times in NNS history, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett’s first NNS win (August 1986, Orange County, N.C.), Jeff Burton (Darlington, March 2002) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (July 2003, Daytona).

However, no driver has ever led all laps in a race that was more than 200 laps.

From the drop of the race-opening green flag, Busch was in his own zip code. Several drivers tried to close the gap on him, including outside pole sitter Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler.

But it seemed that the closer they got to Busch, the more he ultimately pulled away.

NNS points leader Chase Elliott finished second, followed by Harvick, Blaney and Brian Scott.

“We were getting closer and closer than we were in the spring race, but I think that 54 (Busch) got better since the spring race, as well,” Elliott said.

Added Blaney, who won the NNS race at Bristol two weeks ago and last weekend’s Truck race at Atlanta, “Not a bad effort. We’re excited to be at Chicago again next weekend and hope we can do a little bit better there.”

Sixth through 10th were Regan Smith, Dakoda Armstrong, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher.

Dylan Kwasniewski finished 11th, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Landon Cassill, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Reed, Cale Conley, Brendan Gaughan, James Buescher and Mike Bliss.

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Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.