Kyle Busch returns to victory lane in 50th Annual Snowball Derby

Rusty Jarrett/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

The 2017 NASCAR season might be complete, but that didn’t stop Kyle Busch from finding his way to victory lane in one of North American motorsport’s most prestigious events.

Driving for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team, Busch used a late surge to overcome Super Late Model veterans Bubba Pollard and Jeff Choquette and claim the 50th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The win was Busch’s second in the 300-lap race, following his maiden triumph in 2009.

While Busch ended the evening in victory lane, his path there wasn’t as seemingly effortless as the dozens of dominant victories he’s claimed in NASCAR’s minor leagues.

After qualifying mid-pack in 15th, the Nevadan spent the better part of the afternoon riding throughout the back half of the top 10, slowly rising through the field courtesy of attrition and cautious moves.

The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion didn’t have a dominant car, but methodically rose into contention for the win over the course of the race, reaching the leaders over the race’s lengthy final stint.

It was then that Busch, 35, benefitted from his own expert tire management and a fierce battle between Pollard and Choquette ahead of him to climb into the lead in the final 20 laps, closing a two-second gap and maneuvering his No. 51 Toyota around the veterans before driving off to a 2.153-second win.

“I didn’t think we had it there for a while,” Busch told Speed51.com during the site’s pay-per-view broadcast. “In that final 20 (laps) she came to life…

“I can’t say enough about all my guys at KBM.”

While Busch took home the win, he wasn’t the only NASCAR driver in the Snowball Derby field.

Part-time Truck Series competitor and 2017 K&N Pro Series East champion Harrison Burton brought home a fourth-place result.

Two months after his first-career Truck Series in at Martinsville Speedway, KBM regular Noah Gragson earned a 12th-place finish for the race winner’s team. Roush Fenway Racing prospect Ty Majeski followed in 17th after a failed mid-race tire strategy. Cup and XFINITY Series driver Corey LaJoie ran as high as fifth before breaking a track bar and being relegated to a 24th-place result.

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