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Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2017

Kyle Busch captured the checkered flag Saturday afternoon in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. 

It’s a nice start to the weekend for Busch. The Monster Energy Cup Series stalwart is looking to bounce back across levels this weekend after his Daytona 500 chances came to a premature end last week. He’ll look to carry the positive vibes from the Xfinity win into Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson finished second and third, respectively. Elliott Sadler was the top finisher among championship-eligible drivers in fifth place.

Let’s check out all of the top finishers from the season’s second race:

2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series: Rinnai 250 Results
1 18 Kyle Busch
2 22 Brad Keselowski
3 42 Kyle Larson
4 41 Kevin Harvick
5 1 Elliott Sadler
6 6 Darrell Wallace Jr.
7 9 William Byron
8 2 Austin Dillon
9 21 Daniel Hemric
10 00 Cole Custer
NASCAR.com

And here’s a look at the updated Xfinity Series standings early in the 2017 campaign:

2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series: Standings After Race 2 of 33
1 1 Elliott Sadler 70
2 9 William Byron -3
3 16 Ryan Reed -4
4 62 Brendan Gaughan -8
5 19 Matt Tifft -14
6 28 Dakoda Armstrong -23
T-7 48 Brennan Poole -25
T-7 5 Michael Annett -25
9 21 Daniel Hemric -28
10 01 Harrison Rhodes -30
NASCAR.com

It didn’t take long for the action to heat up. Ty Dillon got loose going around the turn on just the second lap and spun out. While he did a nice job of preventing a more widespread crash, he did collect Blake Koch, who was forced to the garage as a result.

NASCAR Xfinity highlighted the reason for the early yellow flag:


A vast majority of the race featured a battle between the Monster Energy Cup stars atop the leaderboard.

Brad Keselowski was dominant throughout the initial portion of the race en route to winning the first stage. He proceeded to win the race off pit road during the ensuing caution and appeared poisedto run away from the pack.

The rest of his Cup counterparts didn’t let him get away, though. Kevin Harvick, who won the second stage, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch all took turns with the lead during the middle sections of the race.

Denny Hamlin wasn’t able to match pace with those other marquee names, and his day took a turn for the worse with just under 50 laps remaining, as Fox Sports 1 showcased:


The race became a two-car battle between Busch and a resurgent Keselowski over the final 10 laps.

Although the No. 22 Ford machine was able to make up some ground, Keselowski could never get back level as Busch successfully navigated around lapped traffic to maintain the lead and get the victory.

Joe Gibbs Racing spotlighted the celebration:


Nate Ryan of NBC Sports passed along some humorous reaction from Busch:


Looking ahead, the Xfinity Series will return to action next Saturday, March 11, for the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It’s the third race amid five consecutive weeks of racing for the second-tier circuit, which makes building some early momentum crucial.

It’s still early, but there are four drivers within eight points of the top spot. That’s the type of competition NASCAR is hoping to produce throughout the entire season with the new stage-based system, which has created some interesting strategy decisions in the first few weeks.

                         

All race statistics courtesy of NASCAR.com.



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