Colin Braun holds off Kyle Busch for first Truck Series victory
On a gray Saturday with a threat of rain that never materialized, Colin Braun took his first step into the sun.
On Lap 77 of the Michigan 200, Braun took advantage of a rare mistake by Kyle Busch. With Busch's momentum slowed through Turn 2 by the lapped truck of Norm Benning, Braun passed the No. 51 Toyota for the lead and sailed home in clean air the rest of the way.
Leading the final 24 circuits of the 100-lap NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway, Braun crossed the finish line 1.790 seconds ahead of Busch, knowing he had beaten perhaps the top talent in NASCAR racing.
As he crossed the finish line, Braun, 20, thanked his crew and team owner Jack Roush, who collected his 50th win in the series.
"What an awesome truck -- you poured your hearts into this," Braun told his crew, then turned his attention to the owner. "Thanks, Jack. Thanks for sticking with me."
The latter was a reference to the promise Braun had shown driving Roush Fenway Fords in both the truck and NASCAR Nationwide Series -- promise that before Saturday had remained unfulfilled, as a combination of ill fortune and impatience had kept the young driver out of victory lane in his first 34 truck series starts.
"It was cool to beat Kyle, and it was also cool to beat Toyotas here," Braun said, noting the proximity of MIS to Detroit, the home of the American auto industry.
Polesitter Brian Ickler finished third in his fifth start in the series, his best result to date. Matt Crafton ran fourth and extended his lead in the series standings to 39 points over seventh-place finisher Ron Hornaday Jr., who survived a Lap 28 accident that also involved Stacy Compton and Chad McCumbee.
Mike Skinner, third in points, came home fifth and trails second-place Hornaday by five points in the series standings.
Braun said that when he saw Busch about to pass Benning to the inside during the decisive sequence, he committed to the outside line.
"Luckily, Kyle got a little boxed up in traffic there, and we could get around him," Braun said. "It's been a tough year so far, but we're on a roll now."
Busch, who had led 62 of 76 laps to that point, acknowledged his mistake.
"It was just a mistake by the driver," Busch said. "I saw a lapped truck (Benning) running a lane up off the bottom, and I'd been liking to run on the bottom. I went into the corner underneath him, and he kept coming down and coming across.
"Unfortunately, I lost all the momentum and all the speed that I had. Colin just drove right by on the top, and I lost the race for us. My fault. (My) team deserved it -- they had a great Tundra out there. The guys did an awesome job preparing this thing. It's the fastest I've ever been here and the most laps I've ever led here in a truck. It was fun while it lasted."