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Kyle Busch wins Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway

(AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

By DAVE SKRETTA

AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Kyle Busch picked up right where he left off in the Truck Series at Kansas Speedway.

Only three years had passed.

Busch hopped into the No. 51 Toyota of his own Kyle Busch Motorsports and roared to the front early Friday night, winning the first two stages before taking advantage of leader Ben Rhodes's engine trouble in the closing laps to take the checkered flag.

It was Busch's fifth victory in his last 10 starts in the series going back to 2015, and came after a victory at Kansas in May 2014 - the last time he drove a truck at the venue.

"It was really fast out there," said Busch, who will try to defend his Cup Series win at Kansas on Saturday night. "We tried to pick and choose whether we wanted to be fast in a straight line or have better handling, and we chose more downforce and it worked out for us."

Rhodes, who crashed jockeying for the lead on the final lap a year ago, opened a big lead on Busch during the final stage when the Cup Series regular ran into lapped traffic. But when a puff of white smoke came out of his truck with seven laps left, Rhodes had to pull down pit lane.

Still in search of his first win, Rhodes slammed his steering wheel in frustration.

"We ran with the best tonight," said Rhodes, who blamed a piece of debris that went through his radiator for the engine blowing up. "We did everything right but Ben Rhodes has a curse on his back of something because something always goes wrong.

"If I don't make it in this game it won't be from lack of effort. It'll be from bad luck."

Busch, who won the spring Cup race a year ago, cruised the final few laps to win once again at the track that once game him so much trouble. He stopped at the start-finish line and got the checkered flag tossed down to him, then paraded briefly along the front stretch.

Johnny Sauter avoided trouble all night to finish second and John Hunter Nemecheck was third, while Busch's teammate, Christopher Bell, rallied from a badly timed caution to finish fourth. Chase Briscoe rounded out the top five for Brad Keselowski Racing.

The win was the 47th for Busch in the Truck Series, leaving him four back of the record set by Ron Hornaday, and one he thought belonged to Rhodes in the final laps.

"That's one of the worst ones to swallow right there," Busch said. "Ben had that race won. That one was his. I was trying everything I could to chase him back down, but I just didn't have enough speed. He was just a little bit faster."

YELLOW COLORS STAGE 1

There were five caution flags during the first 40-lap stage, including one that came out when Wendell Chavous hit the wall hard coming out of the fourth turn. All the yellows turned the stage into a six-lap sprint with Busch, who started 10th, quickly taking the lead.

Bell chased him to the line in second and Sauter was third.

BELL, BUSCH DOMINATE STAGE 2

The series points leader, Bell continued to jockey with Busch throughout the second stage with Rhodes giving chase. Busch moved to the front during a long green-flag run to sweep the intermediate stages with Bell and Rhodes finishing second and third.

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More AP racing coverage: http://racing.ap.org

Updated May 12, 2017

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