KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Kansas Speedway has tormented Kyle Busch throughout his NASCAR career. Saturday night, he conquered it.
Busch capitalized on the misfortune of Martin Truex Jr. to seize the lead on the next-to-last restart and grab his first win at Kansas and his third win of the season. The defending Sprint Cup Series champion is now the first three-time winner in the Cup Series this season.
Truex led a race-high 172 laps but was forced to head back to pit road during the race's final round of green flag stops because the team believed a lug nut got hung between the right-front wheel and the hub. Truex went from leading to down a lap and ended up finishing 14th.
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Busch took over the lead after Truex pitted again and kept it on that penultimate restart as chaos happened behind him. As Busch had sprinted out ahead of the field, Denny Hamlin went three-wide between Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson. Keselowski (on the inside) and Hamlin spun almost simultaneously and Hamlin took out Larson as he washed up to the wall. Joey Logano, who was fifth, had nowhere to go and slammed into Hamlin.
“It just looked like [Keselowski] got loose and then [Hamlin] got loose.I was hoping [Hamlin] would come down the hill and when you’re in the smoke you can’t see anything.I hit the wall, so I knew where that was and I just kept riding and riding and hoping [Hamlin] would come down the hill because I couldn’t see and he stayed up there and I got him right in the door.”
"Hit a big piece of debris and knocked a big hunk out of the nose and knocked the splitter down," Harvick said. "From that point on it was tight, otherwise I would have drove around him."
Busch had last pitted 20+ laps before Harvick did.
"I knew our car was really good," Busch said. "I knew our car was best out front. I had trouble in traffic all night long. I wasn’t the best at being able to pick my way through that stuff, but when we had green flag pit stops I really got some good holes and was able to make some good time, but the call to stay out was a no brainer and it certainly worked out for us."
The win at Kansas means Pocono and Charlotte stand as the only two Sprint Cup Series tracks where Busch hasn't notched a victory. In 16 previous starts at the 1.5-mile track, Busch had just four top-10 finishes. And all of this stuff has happened:
• In the fall of 2010, Busch had a run-in with David Reutimann. Busch made contact with Reutimann, causing Reutimann to spin and then Reutimann delivered payback to Busch, who ended up finishing 21st. Busch dropped from third to seventh in the Chase standings because of the bad result.
• In the fall of 2012, he crashed out and finished 31st. It was the first of three-straight 30th or worse finishes at Kansas for Busch, who wasn't in the Chase.
• Yes, that means he had something go bad in the Chase at Kansas in 2013 too. Busch crashed and finished 34th. He entered Kansas just 12 points off the lead for the Chase and left 35 points in arrears.
• And while it's not a Sprint Cup happening, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention it among the craziness Busch has endured at Kansas. In 2011, after racing with Joey Coulter in the Truck Series race at Kansas, Busch was allegedly punched by Richard Childress, Coulter's team owner.
Saturday night's win means Busch has 37 career Sprint Cup Series wins and 162 wins in NASCAR's top three series. If you're scoring at home – or easily trolled – that's 38 wins away from Richard Petty's 200 career wins.
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