Kyle Busch claims Winter Showdown SLM race in California

Brett Moist/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Kyle Busch spent the final weekend of the NASCAR offseason doing what he does best – winning races.

Piloting his own Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) No. 51 Toyota, Busch dominated the field and held on a after a late caution to claim Saturday’s Winter Showdown for the Spears SRL Southwest Tour at Kern County Raceway Park.

The win was Busch’s second marquee Super Late Model triumph of the winter, joining a victory in December’s Snowball Derby.

The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion delivered a near-perfect drive in the event, leading the final 238 circuits of the 300-lap race en-route to the $30,000 victory.

The result avenged a close call for the Nevadan at the Bakersfield, California, track one year ago, when he finished third.

While Busch was easily the biggest name in the event, he wasn’t the only member of the NASCAR national series garage represented in the race.

XFINITY Series competitors Daniel Hemric and Ty Majeski were also among the field, as was KBM Camping World Truck Series regular Noah Gragson.

The NASCAR quartet combined to take four of the top five positions at the half-mile oval, with Busch leading Hemric (third), Majeski (fourth) and Gragson (fifth).

“Had a great time all week at (Kern Raceway),” Hemric said in a tweet afterward. “Gave it all I had, just came up short, finished third.

“Thankful to everyone that allowed me to come out here and have some fun. (Kyle Busch) wore us out, plain and simple.”

The lone driver to split the NASCAR contingent was local favorite and polesitter Buddy Shepherd, who slotted in second.

Derek Thorn – the 2013 K&N Pro Series West champion – was the only driver outside of Busch to lead laps in the race, holding the top spot for 62 circuits before surrendering the lead to Busch. Thorn ultimately ended the afternoon in ninth.

Busch will be back to action next weekend, when NASCAR’s best Cup Series drivers return for The Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 11. The NASCAR season will then begin in earnest the following weekend when all three national series open their year on the 2.5-mile Daytona oval.

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