SPARTA — Once the smoke cleared, James Buescher made sure the field knew his truck was the strongest.
Buescher won the wreck-filled NASCAR Trucks race Friday night to complete a Kentucky Speedway season sweep, using strong pit stops and restarts to stay in contention before pulling away en route to his fourth victory of the year.
Buescher moved up a spot to second place in the season standings, four points behind rookie Ty Dillon. Parker Kligerman was second in the race, and Dillon finished third.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"Once we got this Chevy up front, it was on kill," said Buescher, who led three times for 64 laps after starting eighth.
Buescher also won at the track in June.
Though Buescher seemed to have a strong truck, he had to wait a while before showing it dominance. That's because the first half of the race featured five cautions totaling 34 laps, denying many of the contenders the long green-flag runs they wanted.
One of the incidents collected championship contender Timothy Peters, who fell one spot to third and 22 points behind Dillon. Peters took several hits on lap 55, first from Max Gresham and then from rookie John King after his No. 17 Toyota drifted down on the apron, impact that lifted the truck off its wheels.
Kligerman brought out a caution on the 81st lap when he got close to the left rear of John Wes Townley in the fourth turn, avoiding contact but not trouble as he spun out. But soon after the restart, Kligerman was back in the top 10 and managed a runner-up finish.
"We got what we needed on fuel stops," Kligerman said. "We were so loose on restarts it really stopped us from stamping our authority."
Pole-sitter Joey Coulter was fourth, and Brian Scott fifth.
Coulter set the early pace, though Buescher made his first charge to run second by lap 14.
That's when the madness began, as Todd Bodine spun without contact coming out of turn 4. Things reshuffled quickly soon after on lap 21 as Johnny Sauter blew a tire and collected Tim George Jr. and Bodine, whose No. 11 Toyota sustained heavy damage and did not return.
The second caution lasted 12 laps as crews cleaned up debris.
Scott led the restart but Buescher won a door-to-door battle on the low side to take the lead with Nelson Piquet squeezing through for third. But then another yellow flag followed, as rookie Bryan Silas spun and brushed the turn 2 wall.
Ryan Blaney, the 18-year-old who became the series' youngest winner last week at Iowa Speedway, finished 11th after starting 16th.
He struggled to get through the mess, but stayed out during the fourth caution caused by Brennan Newberry's wreck in the backstretch and led on the restart at lap 50. Blaney cracked the top 10 late in the race before falling back.
Only 14 of 36 trucks finished on the lead lap.
Gordon takes pole for Sunday
Jeff Gordon will start from the pole for the NASCAR race in New Hampshire on Sunday as he tries to move up in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Gordon ran a lap at 134.911 mph in qualifying Friday. Kyle Busch was second, at 134.753 mph.
Gordon heads into the race Sunday ranked 12th in the Sprint Cup standings. Points leader Brad Keselowski qualified 15th.
Denny Hamlin was 32nd in qualifying after his crew used the wrong pressure in his tires. The deepest starting spot for a race winner in New Hampshire is 38th by Jeff Burton in 1999.
Jose Wise was disqualified from the race because a post-qualifying inspection showed improper gas pressure in his rear shocks.
"I think we surprised ourselves a little bit with this pole," said Gordon, whose last championship was in 2001 — before the current Sprint Cup format. "This is something we didn't expect. Think we expected to be strong in the race here, but for qualifying, we haven't sat on the pole at a non-restricted track in quite some times. So, this was a big one. And, certainly good timing."