Kyle Busch did the traditional hat dance in Martinsville Speedway victory lane Saturday afternoon, but it was not in his driver’s suit.
Standing among the No. 18 team with Noah Gragson, Busch swapped hat after hat for the celebratory pictures after Gragson won his first career Camping World Truck Series race. He led the way for Kyle Busch Motorsports as the organization placed all four of its trucks in the top 10. And all four of those drivers – Gragson, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland and Christopher Bell – are under the age of 23.
For Busch (at left, below, with Gragson), that’s what it’s all about. Debuting in 2010, Kyle Busch Motorsports survives and thrives on playing a part in the success of the sport’s next generation of stars.
“The whole premise of KBM is for the younger guys and for those guys to be successful and to win races and to do a good job,” Busch told RACER. “For me to be able to go race and win races for myself, that’s just icing on the cake.
“They keep performing and doing a good job like that, our place will stay open for a long time. It’s pretty cool today actually gets all four of our teams (Nos. 4, 18, 46 and 51) a victory this year, so great job by everybody involved.”
Having offered advice throughout the race to rookie Gragson on the radio, Busch could only watch as he restarted on the outside and powered past two-time champion Matt Crafton with 10 laps to go. Gragson then celebrated by climbing the frontstretch fence (below) and doing a pull-up before being met by Busch when returning to the pavement.
The 19-year-old Gragson is now the fifth driver to come through KBM and win his first NASCAR national series race. Erik Jones and Darrell Wallace Jr. both did it in 2013. Bell found victory lane for the first time in 2015. And William Byron tore through the series last year for seven victories.
Busch is also intimately familiar with NASCAR victory lanes. Of the 182 wins he has across all three NASCAR national series, 49 have come in the Truck Series.
But there is nothing like being a part of someone else live their dream of winning a NASCAR race.
“It’s cool; it’s really good. I’m actually more nervous watching those guys race for wins and stuff standing on top of the pit box than I am actually behind the wheel,” Busch admitted. “It’s kind of crazy to have that sensation and feeling.
“It’s awesome to see these guys have success and do a good job. It’s their livelihood. It’s their career. They’ve got to go make it for themselves, but we try to do the best we can to give them the best opportunity and the best equipment to do that with.”