Kurt Busch wins at Kentucky a week after lightning strikes at the wrong time at Daytona

Yahoo Sports

Kurt Busch just needed a “lucky break.”

A week after he pitted from the lead just before a lightning strike led to the premature end to the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Busch passed his brother Kyle over a two-lap overtime restart to get his first win of 2019.

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Kurt Busch wasn’t anywhere near the lead as the laps wound down Saturday night as Joey Logano had chased down Kyle Busch and passed him for the lead. But a caution came out for Bubba Wallace’s flat right-rear tire and subsequent spin and set up a two-lap race to the finish.

“Fast car, we had lap time, and we got a nice lucky break to get a shot at it at the end.”

Kurt had taken four tires on his final pit stop, something that Kyle and Logano hadn’t done. Those fresher tires might have mattered. Or a fantastic restart might have mattered more. Kentucky wasn’t much for tire strategy on Saturday night.

Either way, Kurt was able to hang on the outside of his brother over the final two laps as Kyle frantically tried to clear him. They even made contact heading to the white flag, contact that gave Kurt a tire rub.

As you can imagine, Kyle wasn’t thrilled with the outcome. He had kept Logano at bay for a while ahead of the caution flag but he said his car got tight and Logano sprinted away after the two drivers battled it out for a lap to see who could get the best side draft to escape the turbulence from the other.

Then when he got ahead of Logano on the restart he couldn’t keep his brother behind him.

“I didn’t know that they had four tires, so I guess that probably had some of the difference,” Kyle Busch said about his brother’s pit strategy. “I knew I cleared him into [turn 3 on the penultimate lap] and if I stayed in the gas I was never going to make the exit, I was going to plow the fence but maybe I should have just gotten in front of him and messed up his air. It’s so easy to do with these cars. It’s pretty much just air games.”

The win is Kurt’s 31st in his Cup Series career and the first with Kyle finishing second. Kyle has won two Cup Sereis races with Kurt finishing second. His first Busch 1-2 came at Sonoma in 2015 and the second came at Bristol earlier in the season.

Busch pitted with ‘one lap to go’ at Daytona

The one lap to go is in quotes above because it never happened. Busch missed a big crash at the front of the field on lap 119 and inherited the lead. He pitted after NASCAR said it was going green in a lap on lap 128 with the expectation that the race would be resumed.

It never was. In the time between NASCAR saying there was one lap to go before green and when Busch rejoined the field on the backstretch a lightning bolt struck within eight miles of the track. A few more lightning delays and some rain later, NASCAR decided it had enough of waiting out the race at a track with lights and called it early. The call gave Justin Haley the win. The only lap Haley led came after Busch and others pitted.

Busch has quietly been one of the best in the Cup Series in 2019

Busch entered Saturday night’s race in eighth in the standings. He was a playoff lock without a win. But he was eighth despite having the third-best average finish. And guess what? The only two drivers ahead of him were Kyle Busch and Logano.

Those two were so much higher in the standings because they had done better and earning stage points. But Kurt has been extremely efficient over the final stage in races. He’s still five spots ahead of teammate Kyle Larson in the points standings and is just 27 points out of fourth in the standings.

Full results

1. Kurt Busch

2. Kyle Busch

3. Erik Jones

4. Kyle Larson

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Clint Bowyer

7. Joey Logano

8. Daniel Suarez

9. Ryan Newman

10. Chris Buescher

11. Paul Menard

12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

13. Ryan Blaney

14. Aric Almirola

15. Chase Elliott

16. Matt DiBenedetto

17. Alex Bowman

18. William Byron

19. Martin Truex Jr.

20. Brad Keselowski

21. Ryan Preece

22. Kevin Harvick

23. Bubba Wallace

24. Daniel Hemric

25. Michael McDowell

26. Ty Dillon

27. Matt Tifft

28. Corey LaJoie

29. David Ragan

30. Jimmie Johnson

31. Ross Chastain

32. Landon Cassill

33. Bayley Currey

34. Quin Houff

35. Austin Dillon

36. BJ McLeod

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.


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