RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Now, Kyle Busch said, he knows.
Busch overruled his team Friday night when a late caution came out in the final laps of the Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway, opting to stay on the track for the anticipated green-white-checker finish, even when race leader Brad Keselowski pitted.
Running second, Busch assumed the lead with fellow risk-taker Justin Allgaier alongside on the restart, and neither had a chance with Keselowski on new tires with two laps to pass.
"If anybody wanted to know what it takes to stay out — that's what it took to stay out, and that's what happens when you stay out," Busch said after Keselowski easily blew by both.
He said crew chief Jason Ratcliffe wanted him to pit, like almost all the cars behind him did, but "I just wanted to see what it would just do. You have to hold them off for a green-white-checkered, and obviously this is the best that I could fight them off."
The tendency for late-race cautions and NASCAR's new policy of three attempts at two-lap sprints to the finish has made it a tough call for the race leader in such situations, but several times this season, after pitting for new tires, the leader has rallied to win.
Denny Hamlin did it at Martinsville, even when he restarted ninth, by almost slamming his way through traffic on new tires for the victory, and Keselowski rallied Friday night.
Busch said trying, even failing, was a good learning experience.
"I gambled and stayed out there and tried to see what we could do, if we could hold them off or not," he said of Keselowski's superior car. "I didn't think it was going to happen."
Keselowski said he figured Busch and Allgaier, running third, would not pit.
"I wanted to play offense," he said. "I wanted to be the guy with tires."
EARLY DOMINATION: Kyle Busch should work on his qualifying.
After earning the pole position for just the sixth time in 196 career starts, Busch was clearly the dominant car early on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
Busch led the entire first third of the 400-lap event, usually by wide margins, and had already put Greg Biffle (third in points coming in), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (eighth) and two-time series champion Tony Stewart (14th) a lap down before the second third started on lap 134.
By then, only 17 of the 43 cars that started the race remained on the lead lap.
MISS AMERICA, PART II: Miss America Caressa Cameron was at NASCAR's premier series for the second week in a row, and hoping her appearance would go better than last weekend.
Cameron was supposed to sing the national anthem last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, but was overcome by heat and instead was taken to the infield care center for evaluation.
She sang "God Bless America" at Richmond on Saturday night without a problem.
"I am feeling fantastic," she said, her glistening silver crown perched on her head.
Of the crown, she said wearing it in public takes some getting used to.
"When people don't ask me who I am, you get those stares and people are like, 'Why is she just walking around with a crown?' But then they find out and they're like 'Oh, she's Miss America' and they get really excited," she said. "Sometimes it's a little uncomfortable when I feel like I'm being a spectacle, but I think it's awesome when I meet a little girl who sees me with a crown on and she says 'Oh my gosh' and she just wants to take a picture."
PIT STOPS: Pole-sitter Kyle Busch needed just 23 trips around 0.75-mile Richmond before lapping the car of Tony Raines, who started 43rd. Before the race was 30 laps old, Busch had also lapped Kevin Conway, Terry Cook, Mike Bliss and Reed Sorenson. ... Casey Mears, who replaced Johnny Sauter in Tommy Baldwin's No. 36 car this week, qualified 13th. Sauter qualified for two races in five tries, finishing 41st both times.